The Project Gutenberg EBook of Three Wonder Plays, by Lady I. A. Gregory

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Title: Three Wonder Plays

Author: Lady I. A. Gregory

Release Date: January 4, 2005 [EBook #14588]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Irish Folk-Lore and Legend



Three Wonder Plays


Lady Gregory

G.P. Putnam's Sons London & New York


These plays have been copyrighted in the United States and Great Britain.

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages.

All acting rights, both professional and amateur, are reserved in the United States, Great Britain, and all countries of the Copyright Union, by the author. Performances are forbidden and right of presentation is reserved.

Application for the right of performing these plays or reading them in public should be made to Samuel French, 26, Southampton Street, Strand, London, W.C.2.

Made in Great Britain by






The King

The Queen.

The Princess Nuala.


The Nurse.

The Prince of the Marshes.

Manus, King of Sorcha.

Fintan, The Astrologer.




Two Aunts of the Prince of the Marshes.

Foreign Men Bringing in Food.

The Dragon.


Scene: A room in the King's house at Burren.
Large window at back with deep window seat.
Doors right and left. A small table and some

Dall Glic: (Coming in with tray, which he puts
on table. Goes back to door.)
You can come in,
King. There is no one here.

King: (Coming in.) That's very good. I was
in dread the Queen might be in it.

Dall Glic: It is a good thought I had bringing
it in here, and she gone to give learning to the
Princess. She is not likely to come this side. It
would be a great pity to annoy her.

King: (Hastily swallowing a mouthful.) Look
out now the door and keep a good watch. The
time she will draw upon me is when I am eating
my little bite.

Dall Glic: I'll do that. What I wouldn't
see with my one eye, there's no other would see
with three.

King: A month to-day since I wed with her, and
well pleased I am to be back in my own place. I
give you word my teeth are rusting with the want
of meat. On the journey I got no fair play. She
wouldn't be willing to see me nourish myself,
unless maybe with the marrow bone of a wren.

Dall Glic: Sure she lays down she is but thinking
of the good of your health.

King: Maybe so. She is apt to be paying too
much attention to what will be for mine and for
the world's good. I kept my health fair enough,
and the first wife not begrudging me my enough.
I don't know what in the world led me not to stop
as I was.

Dall Glic: It is what you were saying, it was
for the good of the Princess Nuala, and of yourself.

King: That is what herself laid down. It
would be a great ease to my mind, she was saying,
to have in the house with the young girl, a far-off
cousin of the King of Alban, and that had been
conversation woman in his Court.

Dall Glic: So it might be too. She is a great
manager of people.

King: She is that ...I think I hear her
coming.... Throw a cloth over the plates.

Queen: (Coming in.) I was in search of you.

King: I thought you were in Nuala's sunny
parlour, learning her to play music and to go through

Queen: That is what I thought to do. But I
hadn't hardly started to teach her the principles
of conversation and the branches of relationships
and kindred of the big people of the earth, when
she plucked off the coverings I had put over the
cages, and set open their doors, till the fiery birds
of Sabes and the canaries of the eastern world
were screeching around my head, giving out every
class of cry and call.

King: So they would too.

Queen: The royal eagles stirred up till I must
quit the place with their squawking, and the
enchanted swans raising up their heads and pecking
at the beadwork on my gown.

King: Ah, she has a wish for the birds of the air,
that are by nature light and airy the same as herself.

Queen: It is time for her to turn her mind
to good sense. What's that? (Whipping cloth
from tray
.) Is it that you are eating again, and
it is but one half-hour since your breakfast?

King: Ah, that wasn't a breakfast you'd call
a breakfast.

Queen: Very healthy food, oaten meal flummery
with whey, and a griddle-cake; dandelion tea
and sorrel from the field.

King: My old fathers ate their enough of wild
herbs and the like in the early time of the world.
I'm thinking that it is in my nature to require a
good share of nourishment as if to make up for the
hardships they went through.

Queen: What now have you within that pastry

King: It is but a little leveret pie.

Queen: (Poking with fork.) Leveret! What's
this in it? The thickness of a blanket of beef;
calves' sweetbreads; cocks' combs; balls mixed
with livers and with spice. You to so much as
taste of it, you'll be crippled and crappled with
the gout, and roaring out in your pain.

King: I tell you my generations have enough
done of fasting and for making little of the juicy
meats of the world.

Queen: And the waste of it! Goose eggs and
jellies.... That much would furnish out a dinner
for the whole of the King of Alban's Court.
King: Ah, I wouldn't wish to be using anything
at all, only for to gather strength for to steer
the business of the whole of the kingdom!

Queen: Have you enough ate now, my dear?
Are you satisfied?

King: I am not. I would wish for a little taste
of that saffron cake having in it raisins of the sun.

Queen: Saffron! Are you raving? You to
have within you any of the four-and-twenty sicknesses
of the race, it would throw it out in red
blisters on your skin.

King: Let me just taste one little slab of that
venison ham.

Queen: (Poking with a fork.) It would take
seven chewings! Sudden death it would be!
Leave it alone now and rise up. To keep in health
every man should quit the table before he is satisfied
—there are some would walk to the door and back
with every bite.

King: Is it that I am to eat my meal standing,
the same as a crane in a shallow, or moving from
tuft to thistle like you'd see a jennet on the high

Queen: Well, at the least, let you drink down
a share of this tansy juice. I was telling you it
would be answerable to your health.

King: You are doing entirely too much for me.

Queen: Sure I am here to be comfortable to
you. This house before I came into it was but
a ship without a rudder! Here now, take the
spoon in your hand.

Dall Glic: Leave it there, Queen, and I'll
engage he'll swallow it down bye-and-bye.

Queen: Is it that you are meddling, Dall Glic?
It is time some person took you in hand. I wonder
now could that dark eye of yours be cured?

Dall Glic: It is given in that it can not, by
doctors and by druids.

Queen: That is a pity now, it gives you a sort
of a one-sided look. It might not be so hard a
thing to put out the sight of the other.

Dall Glic: I'd sooner leave them the way they

Queen: I'll put a knot on my handkerchief till
such time as I can give my mind to it.... Now,
my dear (to King), make no more delay. It is
right to drink it down after your meal. The
stomach to be bare empty, the medicine might
prey upon the body till it would be wore away
and consumed.

King: Time enough. Let it settle now for
a minute.

Queen: Here, now, I'll hold your nose the way
you will not get the taste of it.

(She holds spoon to his mouth. A ball flies
in at window; he starts and medicine
is spilled

Princess: (Coming in with Nurse.) Is it true
what they are telling me?

Queen: Do you see that you near hit the King
with your ball, and, what is worse again, you have
his medicine spilled from the spoon.

Princess: (Patting him.) Poor old King.

Queen: Have you your lessons learned?

Princess: (Throwing books in the air.) Neither
line nor letter of them! Poem book! Brehon
Laws! I have done with books! I am seventeen
years old to-day!

Queen: There is no one would think it and
you so flighty as you are.

Princess: (To King.) Is it true that the cook
is gone away?

King: (Aghast.) What's that you're saying?

Queen: Don't be annoying the King's mind
with such things. He should be hidden from every
trouble and care.

Princess: Was it you sent him away?

Queen: Not at all. If he went it was through
foolishness and pride.

Princess: It is said in the house that you annoyed

Queen: I never annoyed any person in my life,
unless it might be for their own good. But it
fails some to recognise their best friend. Just
teaching him I was to pickle onion thinnings as it
was done at the King of Alban's Court.

Princess: Didn't he know that before?

Queen: Whether or no, he gave me very little
thanks, but turned around and asked his wages.
Hurrying him and harrying him he said I was,
and away with him, himself and his four-and-twenty

King: That is bad news, and pitiful news.

Queen: Do not be troubling yourself at all. It
will be easy find another.

King: It might not be easy to find so good a
one. A great pity! A dinner or a supper not
to be rightly dressed is apt to give no pleasure in
the eating or in the bye-and-bye.

Queen: I have taken it in hand. I have a good
headpiece. I put out a call with running lads
and with the army captains through the whole
of the five provinces; and along with that, I have
it put up on tablets at the post office.

Princess: I am sorry the old one to be gone.
To remember him is nearly the farthest spot in
my memory.

Queen: (Sharply.) If you want the house to
be under your hand only, it is best for you to settle
into one of your own.

Princess: Give me the little rush cabin by the
stream and I'll be content.

Queen: If you mind yourself and profit by
my instruction it is maybe not a cabin you will
be moving to but a palace.

Princess: I'm tired of palaces. There are too
many people in them.

Queen: That is talking folly. When you settle
yourself it must be in the station where you were

Princess: I have no mind to settle myself yet

Nurse: Ah, you will not be saying that the
time Mr. Right will come down the chimney,
and will give you the marks and tokens of a king.

Queen: There might have some come looking
for her before this, if it was not for you petting
and pampering her the way you do, and encouraging
her flightiness and follies. It is likely she will get
no offers till such time as I will have taught her
the manners and the right customs of courts.

Nurse: Sure I am acquainted with courts myself.
Wasn't it I fostered comely Manus that is presently
King of Sorcha, since his father went out of the
world? And as to lovers coming to look for her!
They do be coming up to this as plenty as the eye
could hold them, and she refusing them, and they
laying the blame upon the King!

King: That is so, they laying the blame upon
myself. There was the uncle of the King of
Leinster; he never sent me another car-load of
asparagus from the time you banished him away.

Princess: He was a widower man.

King: As to the heir of Orkney, since the time
you sent him to the right about, I never got so
much as a conger eel from his hand.

Princess: As dull as a fish he was. He had a
fish's eyes.

King: That wasn't so with the champion of
the merings of Ulster.

Princess: A freckled man. He had hair the
colour of a fox.

King: I wish he didn't stop sending me his
tribute of heather beer.

Queen: It is a poor daughter that will not
wish to be helpful to her father.

Princess: If I am to wed for the furnishing
of my father's table, it's as good for you to wrap
me in a speckled fawnskin and roast me!

(Runs out, tossing her ball.)

Queen: She is no way fit for marriage unless
with a herd to the birds of the air, till she has a
couple of years schooling.

King: It would be hard to put her back to

Queen: I must take it in hand. She is getting
entirely too much of her own way.

Nurse: Leave her alone, and in the end it will
be a good way.

Queen: To keep rules and hours she must learn,
and to give in to order and good sense. (To King.)
There is a pigeon messenger I brought from Alban
I am about to let loose on this day with news of
myself and of yourself. I will send with it a message
to a friend I have, bidding her to make ready for
Nuala a place in her garden of learning and her

King: That is going too fast. There is no

Queen: She is seventeen years. There is no
day to be lost. I will go write the letter.

Nurse: Oh, you wouldn't send away the poor

Dall Glic: It would be a great hardship to
send her so far. Our poor little Princess Nu!

Queen: (Sharply.) What are saying? (Dall
Glic is silent.)

King: I would not wish her to be sent out
of this.

Queen: There is no other way to set her mind
to sense and learning. It will be for her own

Nurse: Where's the use troubling her with
lessons and with books that maybe she will never
be in need of at all. Speak up for her, King.

King: Let her stop for this year as she is.

Queen: You are all too soft and too easy. She
will turn on you and will blame you for it, and
another year or two years slipped by.

Nurse: That she may!

Dall Glic: Who knows what might take place
within the twelvemonth that is coming?

King: Ah, don't be talking about it. Maybe
it never might come to pass.

Dall Glic: It will come to pass, if there is truth
in the clouds of sky.

King: It will not be for a year, anyway. There'll
be many an ebbing and flowing of the tide within
a year.

Queen: What at all are you talking about?

King: Ah, where's the use of talking too

Queen: Making riddles you are, and striving
to keep the meaning from your comrade, that is

King: It's best not be thinking about the thing
you would not wish, and maybe it might never
come around at all. To strive to forget a threat
yourself, it might maybe be forgotten by the

Queen: Is it true something was threatened?

King: How would I know is anything true,
and the world so full of lies as it is?

Nurse: That is so. He might have been wrong
in his foretelling. What is he in the finish but an
old prophecy?

Dall Glic: Is it of Fintan you are saying that?

Queen: And who, will you tell me, is Fintan?

Dall Glic: Anyone that never heard tell of
Fintan never heard anything at all.

Queen: His name was not up on the tablets
of big men at the King of Alban's Court, or of

Nurse: Ah, sure in those countries they are
without religion or belief.

Queen: Is it that there was a prophecy?

King: Don't mind it. What are prophecies?
Don't we hear them every day of the week? And
if one comes true there may be seven blind and
come to nothing.

Queen: (To Dall Glic.) I must get to the root
of this, and the handle. Who, now, is Fintan?

Dall Glic: He is an astrologer, and understanding
the nature of the stars.

Nurse: He wore out in his lifetime three eagles
and three palm trees and three earthen dykes.
It is down in a cleft of the rocks beyond he has
his dwelling presently, the way he can be watching
the stars through the daytime.

Dall Glic: He prophesied in a prophecy, and
it is written in clean letters in the King's yew-tree

King: It is best to keep it out of sight. It
being to be, it will be; and, if not, where's the
use troubling our mind?

Queen: Sound it out to me.

Dall Glic: (Looking from window and drawing
There is no story in the world is worse
to me or more pitiful; I wouldn't wish any person
to hear.

Nurse: Oh, take care it would come to the
ears of my darling Nu!

Dall Glic: It is said by himself and the heavens
that in a year from this day the King's daughter will
be brought away and devoured by a scaly Green
Dragon that will come from the North of the

Queen: A Dragon! I thought you were talking
of some danger. I wouldn't give in to dragons.
I never saw one. I'm not in dread of beasts unless
it might be a mouse in the night-time!

King: Put it out of mind. It is likely anyway
that the world will soon be ended the way
it is.

Queen: I will send and search out this astrologer
and will question him.

Dall Glic: You have not far to search. He
is outside at the kitchen door at this minute, and
as if questioning after something, and it a half-score
and seven years since I knew him to come
out of his cave.

King: Do not! He might waken up the Dragon
and put him in mind of the girl, for to make his
own foretelling come true.

Nurse: Ah, such a thing cannot be! The
poor innocent child! (Weeps.)

Queen: Where's the use of crying and roaring?
The thing must be stopped and put an end to.
I don't say I give in to your story, but that would
be an unnatural death. I would be scandalised
being stepmother to a girl that would be swallowed
by a sea-serpent!

Nurse: Ochone! Don't be talking of it at

Queen: At the King of Alban's Court, one
of the royal family to die over, it will be naturally
on a pillow, and the dead-bells ringing, and a
burying with white candles, and crape on the
knocker of the door, and a flagstone put over the
grave. What way could we put a stone or so
much as a rose-bush over Nuala and she in the
inside of a water-worm might be ploughing its way
down to the north of the world?

Nurse: Och! that is what is killing me entirely!
O save her, save her.

King: I tell you, it being to be, it will be.

Queen: You may be right, so, when you would
not go to the expense of paying her charges at the
Royal school. But wait, now, there is a plan
coming into my mind.

Nurse: There must surely be some way!

Queen: It is likely a king's daughter the beast—
if there is a beast—will come questioning after, and
not after a king's wife.

Dall Glic: That is according to custom.

Queen: That's what I am saying. What we
have to do is to join Nuala with a man of a husband,
and she will be safe from the danger ahead of her.
In all the inventions made by poets, for to put
terror on children or to knock laughter out of fools,
did any of you ever hear of a Dragon swallowing
the wedding ring?

All: We never did.

Queen: It's easy enough so. There must be
no delay till Nuala will be married and wed with
someone that will bring her away out of this, and
let the Dragon go hungry home!

Nurse: That she may! Isn't it a pity now
she being so hard to please!

Queen: Young people are apt to be selfish and
to have no thought but for themselves. She must
not be hard to please when it will be to save and
to serve her family and to keep up respect for
their name. Here she is coming.

Nurse: Ah, you would not tell her! You
would not put the dear child under the shadow
of such a terror and such a threat!

King: She must not be told. I never could
bear up against it.

(Nuala comes in.)

Queen: Look now at your father the way he is.

Princess: (Touching his hand.) What is fretting

Queen: His heart as weighty as that the chair
near broke under him.

Princess: I never saw you this way before.

Queen: And all on the head of yourself!

Princess: I am sorry, and very sorry, for that.

Queen: He is loth to say it to you, but he is
tired and wore out waiting for you to settle with
some match. See what a troubled look he has on
his face.

Princess: (To King.) Is it that you want me
to leave you? (He gives a sob.) (To Dall Glic.)
Is it the Queen urged him to this?

Dall Glic: If she did, it was surely for your good.

Nurse: Oh, my child and my darling, let you
strive to take a liking to some good man that will

Princess: Are you going against me with the rest?

Nurse: You know well I would never do that!

Princess: Do you, father, urge me to go?

King: They are in too big a hurry why
wouldn't they wait a while, for a quarter, or three-quarters
of a year.

Princess: Is that all the delay I am given, and
the term is set for me, like a servant that would be
banished from the house?

King: That's not it. That's not right. I
would never give in to let you go ...if it
wasn't ...

Princess: I know. (Stands up.) For my own

(Trumpet outside.)

Gatekeeper: (Coming in.) There is company
at the door.

Queen: Who is it?

Gatekeeper: Servants, and a company of women,
and one that would seem to be a Prince, and young.

Princess: Then he is come asking me in marriage.

Dall Glic: Who is he at all?

Gatekeeper: They were saying he is the son
of the King of the Marshes.

King: Go bring him in.

(Gatekeeper goes.)

Dall Glic: That's right! He has great riches
and treasure. There are some say he is the first
match in Ireland.

Nurse: He is not. If his father has a copper
crown, and our own King a silver one, it is the
King of Sorcha has a crown of gold! The young
King of Sorcha that is the first match.

Dall Glic: If he is, this one is apt to be the
second first.

Queen: Do you hear, Nuala, what luck is flowing
to you?

Dall Glic: Do not now be turning your back
on him as you did to so many.

Princess: No; whoever he is, it is likely I will
not turn away from this one.

Queen: Go now and ready yourself to meet him.

Princess: Am I not nice enough the way I am?

Queen: You are not. The King of Alban's
daughter has hair as smooth as if a cow had licked it.

(Princess goes.)

Gatekeeper: Here is the Prince of the Marshes!

(Enter Prince, very young and timid, an old lady
on each side slightly in advance of him

King: A great welcome before you....
And who may these be?

Prince: Seven aunts I have....

First Aunt: (Interrupting.) If he has, there
are but two of us have come along with him.

Second Aunt: For to care him and be company
for him on his journey, it being the first time he
ever quitted home.

Queen: This is a great honour. Will you take
a chair?

First Aunt: Leave that for the Prince of the
Marshes. It is away from the draught of the

Second Aunt: We ourselves are in charge of
his health. I have here his eel-skin boots for the
days that will be wet under foot.

First Aunt: And I have here my little bag of
cures, with a cure in it that would rise the body
out of the grave as whole and as sound as the time
you were born.

(Lays it down.)

King: (To Prince.) It is many a day your
father and myself were together in our early time.
What way is he? He was farther out in age than

Prince: He is ...

First Aunt: (Interrupting.) He is only middling
these last years. The doctors have taken him in

King: He was more for fowling, and I was
more for horses—before I increased so much in
girth. Is it for horses you are, Prince?

Prince: I didn't go up on one up to this.

First Aunt: Kings and princes are getting scarce.
They are the most class is wearing away, and it is
right for them keep in mind their safety.

Second Aunt: The Prince has no need to go
upon a horse, where he has always a coach at his

King: It is fowling that suits you so?

Prince: I would be well pleased ...

First Aunt: There is great danger going out
fowling with a gun that might turn on you after
and take your life.

Second Aunt: Why would the Prince go into
danger, having servants that will go following
after birds?

Queen: He is likely waiting till his enemies will
make an attack upon the country to defend it.

First Aunt: There is a good dyke around about
the marshes, and a sort of quaking bog. It is not
likely war will come till such time as it will be made
by the birds of the air.

King: Well, we must strive to knock out some
sport or some pleasure.

Prince: It was not on pleasure I was sent.

First Aunt: That's so, but on business.

Second Aunt: Very weighty business.

King: Let the lad tell it out himself.

Prince: I hope there is no harm in me coming
hither. I would be loth to push on you ...

First Aunt: We thought it was right, as he
was come to sensible years ...

King: Stop a minute, ma'am, give him his

Prince: My father ... and his counsellors ...
and my seven aunts ...that said it would be
right for me to join with a wife.

Queen: They showed good sense in that.

Prince: (Rapidly.) They bade me come and
take a look at your young lady of a Princess to see
would she be likely to be pleasing to them.

First Aunt: That's it, and that is what brought
ourselves along with him—to see would we be

King: I don't know. The girl is young—
she's young.

First Aunt: It is what we were saying, that
might be no drawback. It might be easier train
her in our own ways, and to do everything that
is right.

King: Sure we are all wishful to do the thing
that is right, but it's sometimes hard to know.

Second Aunt: Not in our place. What the
King of the Marshes would not know, his counsellors
and ourselves would know.

Queen: It will be very answerable to the Princess
to be under such good guidance.

First Aunt: For low people and for middling
people it is well enough to follow their own opinion
and their will. But for the Prince's wife to have
any choice or any will of her own, the people would
not believe her to be a real princess.

(Princess comes to door, listening unseen.)

King: Ah, you must not be too strict with a
girl that has life in her.

Prince: My seven aunts that were saying they
have a great distrust of any person that is lively.

First Aunt: We would rather than the greatest
beauty in the world get him a wife who would be
content to stop in her home.

(Princess comes in very stately and with a
fine dress. She curtseys. Aunts curtsey
and sit down again. Prince bows uneasily
and sidles away.)

First Aunt: Will you sit, now, between the
two of us?

Princess: It is more fitting for a young girl
to stay in her standing in the presence of a king's
kindred and his son, since he is come so far to look
for me.

Second Aunt: That is a very nice thought.

Princess: My far-off grandmother, the old
people were telling me, never sat at the table
to put a bit in her mouth till such time as her
lord had risen up satisfied. She was that obedient
to him that if he had bidden her, she would have
laid down her hand upon red coals.

(Prince looks bored and fidgets.)

First Aunt: Very good indeed.

Princess: That was a habit with my grandmother.
I would wish to follow in her ways.

King: This is some new talk.

Queen: Stop; she is speaking fair and good.

Princess: A little verse, made by some good
wife, I used to be learning. "I always should:
Be very good: At home should mind: My husband
kind: Abroad obey: What people say."

First Aunt: (Getting up.) To travel the world,
I never thought to find such good sense before me.
Do you hear that, Prince?

Prince: Sure I often heard yourselves shaping
that sort.

Second Aunt: I'll engage the royal family will
make no objection to this young lady taking charge
of your house.

Princess: I can do that! (Counts on fingers.)
To send linen to the washing-tub on Monday, and
dry it on Tuesday, and to mangle it Wednesday,
and starch it Thursday, and iron it Friday, and
fold it in the press against Sunday!

Second Aunt: Indeed there is little to learn
you! And on Sundays, now, you will go driving
in a painted coach, and your dress sewed with gold
and with pearls, and the poor of the world envying
you on the road.

Queen: (Claps hands.) There is no one but
must envy her, and all that is before her for her

First Aunt: Here is the golden arm-ring the
Prince brought for to slip over your hand.

Second Aunt: It was put on all our generations of
queens at the time of the making of their match.

Princess: (Drawing back her hand.) Mine is
not made yet.

First Aunt: Didn't you hear me saying, and
the Prince saying, there is nothing could be laid
down against it.

Princess: There is one thing against it.

Queen: Oh, there can be nothing worth while!

Princess: A thing you would think a great
drawback and all your kindred would think it.

Queen: (Rapidly.) There is nothing, but maybe
that she is not so tall as you might think, through
the length of the heels of her shoes.

Second Aunt: We would put up with that much.

Princess: (Rapidly.) It is that there was a
spell put upon me—by a water-witch that was of
my kindred. At some hours of the day I am as
you see me, but at other hours I am changed into
a sea-filly from the Country-under-Wave. And
when I smell salt on the west wind I must race and
race and race. And when I hear the call of the
gulls or the sea-eagles over my head, I must leap
up to meet them till I can hardly tell what is my
right element, is it the high air or is it the loosened

Queen: Stop your nonsense talk. She is gone
wild and raving with the great luck that is come
to her!

(Prince has stood up, and is watching her

Princess: I feel a wind at this very time that
is blowing from the wilderness of the sea, and
I am changing with it.... There. (Pulls down
her hair.)
Let my mane go free! I will race
you, Prince, I will race you! The wind of March
will not overtake me, Prince, and I running on the
top of the white waves!

(Runs out; Prince entranced, rushes to door.)

Aunts: (Catching hold of him.) Are you going
mad wild like herself?

Prince: Oh, I will go after her!

First Aunt: (Clutching him) Do not! She
will drag you to destruction.

Prince: (Struggling to door.) What matter! Let
me go or she will escape me! (Shaking himself
I will never stop till I come to her.

(He rushes out, Second Aunt still holding on
to him.)

First Aunt: What at all has come upon him?
I never knew him this way before!

(She trots after him.)

Princess: (Comes leaping in by window.) They
are gone running the road to Muckanish! But
they won't find me!

Queen: You have a right to be ashamed of
yourself and your play-game. It's easy for you
to go joking, having neither cark nor care: that
is no way to treat the second best match in Ireland!

King: You were saying you had your mind
made up to take him.

Princess: It failed me to do it! Himself and
his counsellors and his seven aunts!

Queen: He will give out that you are crazed
and mad.

Princess: He will be thankful to his life's end
to have got free of me!

King: I don't know. It seemed to me he
was better pleased with you in the finish than
in the commencement. But I'm in dread his
father may not be well pleased.

Princess: (Patting him.) Which now of the
two of you is the most to be pitied? He to
have such a timid son or you to have such an unruly

Queen: It is likely he will make an attack on
you. There was a war made by the King of Britain
on the head of a terrier pup that was sent to him
and that made away on the road following hares.
It's best for you to make ready to put yourself at
the head of your troop.

King: It's long since I went into my battle
dress. I'm in dread it would not close upon my

Queen: Ah, it might, so soon as you would
go through a few hardships in the fight.

King: If the rest of Adam's race was of my
opinion there'd be no fighting in the world at

Queen: It is this child's stubbornness is leading
you into it. Go out, Nuala, after the Prince. Tell
him you are sorry you made a fool of him.

Princess: He was that before—thinking to
put me sitting and sewing in a cushioned chair,
listening to stories of kings making a slaughter
of one another.

Queen: Tell him you have changed your mind,
that you were but funning; that you will wed
with him yet.

Princess: I would sooner wed with the King
of Poison! I to have to go to his kingdom, I'd
sooner go earning my wages footing turf, with a
skirt of heavy flannel and a dress of the grey frieze!
Himself and his bogs and his frogs!

Queen: I tell you it is time for you to take a

Princess: You said that before! And I was
giving in a while ago, and I felt the blood of my
heart to be rising against it! And I will not give
in to you again! It is my own business and I will
take my own way.

Queen: (To King.) This is all one with the
raving of a hag against heaven!

King: What the Queen is saying is right. Try
now and come around to it.

Princess: She has set you against me with her

Queen: (To King.) It is best for you to lay
orders on her.

Princess: The King is not under your

Queen: You are striving to make him give in
to your own!

King: I will take orders from no one at all!

Queen: Bid her go bring back the Prince.

Princess: I say that I will not!

Queen: She is standing up against you! Will
you give in to that?

King: I am bothered with the whole of you!
I will give in to nothing at all!

Queen: Make her do your bidding so.

King: Can't you do as you are told?

Princess: This concerns myself.

King: It does, and the whole of us.

Princess: Do you think you can force me to

King: I do think it, and I will do it.

Princess: It will fail you!

King: It will not! I was too easy with you
up to this.

Princess: Will you turn me out of the house?

King: I will give you my word, it is little but
I will!

Princess: Then I have no home and no father!
It is to my mother you must give an account.
You know well it is with the first wife you will go
at the Judgment!

Queen: Is it that you would make threats to
the King? And put insults upon myself? Now
she is daring and defying you! Let you put an end
to it!

King: I will do that! (Stands up.) I swear
by the oath my people swear by, the seven things
common to us all; by sun and moon; sea and dew;
wind and water; the hours of the day and night,
I will give you in marriage and in wedlock to the
first man that will come into the house!

Princess: (Shrinking as from a blow.) It is the
Queen has done this.

Queen: I will give you out the reason, and
see will you put blame on me or praise!

Nurse: Oh, let you stop and not draw it down
upon her!

Queen: It is right for me to tell it; it is true
telling! You not to be married and wed by this
day twelvemonth, there will be a terrible thing
happen you ...

Nurse: Be quiet! Don't you see Fintan himself
looking in the window!

King: Fintan! What is it bring you here
on this day?

Fintan: (A very old man in strange clothes at
What brings me is to put my curse
upon the whole tribe of kitchen boys that are gone
and vanished out of this, without bringing me my
request, that was a bit of rendered lard that would
limber the swivel of my spy-glass, that is clogged
with the dripping of the cave.

Nurse: And you have no bad news?

Queen: Nothing to say on the head of the
Princess, this being, as it is, her birthday?

Fintan: What birthday? This is not a birthday
that signifies. It is the next will be the birthday
concerned with the great story that is foretold.

Queen: It is right for her to know it.

King: It is not! It is not!

Princess: Whatever the story is, let me know
it, and not be treated as a child that is without
courage or sense.

Fintan: It's long till I'll come out from my
cleft again, and getting no peace or quiet on the
ridge of the earth. It is laid down by the stars
that cannot lie, that on this day twelvemonth, you
yourself will be ate and devoured by a scaly Green
Dragon from the North!




Scene: The Same. Princess and Nurse.

Nurse: Cheer up now, my honey bird, and
don't be fretting.

Princess: It is not easy to quit fretting, and
the terrible story you are after telling me of all
that is before and all that is behind me.

Nurse: They had no right at all to go make
you aware of it. The Queen has too much talk.
An unlucky stepmother she is to you!

Princess: It is well for me she is here. It is
well I am told the truth, where the whole of you
were treating me like a child without sense, so
giddy I was and contrary, and petted and humoured
by the whole of you. What memory would there
be left of me and my little life gone by, but of a
headstrong, unruly child with no thought but
for myself.

Nurse: No, but the best in the world, you
are; there is no one seeing you pass by but would
love you.

Princess: That is not so. I was wild and taking
my own way, mocking and humbugging.

Nurse: I never will give in that there is no
way to save you from that Dragon that is foretold
to be your destruction. I would give the
four divisions of the world, and Ireland along
with them, if I could see you pelting your ball
in at the window the same as an hour ago!

Princess: Maybe you will, so long as it will hurt

Nurse: Ah, sure it's no wonder there to be the
tracks of tears upon your face, and that great terror
before you.

Princess: I will wipe them away! I will not
give in to danger or to dragons! No one will
see a dark face on me. I am a king's daughter
of Ireland, I did not come out of a herd's hut like
Deirdre that went sighing and lamenting till she
was put to death, the world being sick and tired
of her complaints, and her finger at her eye dripping

Nurse: That's right, now. You had always
great courage.

Princess: There is like a change within me.
You never will hear a cross word from me again.
I would wish to be pleasant and peaceable until
such time ...

(Puts handkerchief to eyes and goes.)

Dall Glic: (Coming in.) The King is greatly
put out with all he went through, and the way
the passion rose in him a while ago.

Nurse: That he may be twenty times worse
before he is better! Showing such fury towards
the innocent child the way he did!

Dall Glic: The Queen has brought him to the
grass plot for to give him his exercise, walking his
seven steps east and west.

Nurse: Hasn't she great power over him to
make him to that much?

Dall Glic: I tell you I am in dread of her myself.
Some plan she has for making my two eyes equal.
I vexed her someway, and she got queer and humpy,
and put a lip on herself, and said she would take
me in hand. I declare I never will have a minute's
ease thinking of it.

Nurse: The King should have done his seven
steps, for I hear her coming.

(Dall Glic goes to recess of window.)

Queen: (Coming in.) Did you, Nurse, ever at
any time turn and dress a dinner?

Nurse: (Very stiff.) Indeed I never did. Any
house I ever was in there was a good kitchen and
well attended, the Lord be praised!

Queen: Ah, but just to be kind and to oblige
the King.

Nurse: Troth, the same King will wait long
till he'll see any dish I will ready for him! I am
not one that was reared between the flags and the
oven in the corner of the one room! To be a nurse
to King's children is my trade, and not to go stirring
mashes, for hens or for humans!

Queen: I heard a crafty woman lay down one
time there was no way to hold a man, only by food
and flattery.

Nurse: Sure any mother of children walking the
road could tell you that much.

Queen: I went maybe too far urging him not
to lessen so much food the way he did. I only
thought to befriend him. But now he is someway
upset and nothing will rightly smooth him but to
be thinking upon his next meal; and what it will
be I don't know, unless the berries of the bush.

Dall Glic: (Leaning out of the window.) Here!
Hi! Come this way!

Queen: Who are you calling to?

Dall Glic: It is someone with the appearance
of a cook.

Queen: Are you saying it is a cook? That
now will put the King in great humour!

(Manus appears at the window.)

Nurse: (Looking at him.) I wouldn't hardly
think he'd suit. He has a sort of innocent look.
I wouldn't say him to be a country lad. I don't
know is he fitted to go readying meals for a royal
family, and the King so wrathful if they do not
please him as he is. And as to the Princess Nu!
There to be the size of a hayseed of fat overhead
on her broth, she'd fall in a dead faint.

Manus: I'll go on so.

Queen: No, no. Bring him in till I'll take a
look at him!

Manus: (Coming inside.) I am a lad in search
of a master.

Manus: (Inside.) I am a lad in search of a

Queen: And I myself that am wanting a cook.

Manus: I got word of that and I going the road.

Queen: You would seem to be but a young lad.

Manus: I am not very far in age to-day. But
I'll be a day older to-morrow.

Queen: In what country were you born and

Manus: I came from over, and I am coming

Queen: What wages now would you be asking?

Manus: Nothing at all unless what you think
I will have earned at the time I will be leaving
your service.

Queen: That is very right and fair. I hope
you will not be asking too much help. The last
cook had a whole fleet of scullions that were no
use but to chatter and consume.

Manus: I am asking no help at all but the
help of the ten I bring with me.

(Holds up fingers.)

Queen: That will be a great saving in the house!
Can I depend upon you now not to be turning
to your own use the King's ale and his wine?

Manus: If you take me to be a thief I will go
upon my road. It was no easier for me to come
than to go out again.

Queen: (Holding him.) No, now, don't be so
proud and thinking so much of yourself. If I
give you trial here I would wish you to be ready
to turn your hand to this and that, and not be
saying it is or is not your business.

Manus: My business is to do as the King wishes.

Queen: That's right. That is the way the
servants were in the palace of the King of Alban.

Manus: That's the way I was myself in the
King's house of Sorcha.

Queen: Are you saying it is from that place you
are come? Sure that should be a great household!
The King of Sorcha, they were telling me, has
seven castles on land and seven on the sea, and
provision for a year and a day in every one of them.

Manus: That might be. I never was in more
than one of them at the one time.

Queen: Anyone that has been in that place would
surely be fitting here. Keep him, Nurse! Don't let
him make away from us till I will go call the King!

(Goes out.)

Nurse: Sure it was I myself that fostered the
young King of Sorcha and reared him in my lap!
What way is he at all? My lovely child! Give
me news of him!

Manus: I will do that....

Nurse: To hear of him would delight me!

Manus: It is I that can tell you....

Nurse: It is himself should be a grand king!

Manus: Listen till you hear!...

Nurse: His father was good and his mother was
good, and it's likely, himself will be the best of all!

Manus: Be quiet now and hearken!...

Nurse: I remember well the first day I saw him
in the cradle, two and a score of years back! Oh,
it is glad, and very glad, I'll be to get word of him!

Manus: He is come to sensible years....

Nurse: A golden cradle it was and it standing
on four golden balls the very round of the sun!

Manus: He is out of his cradle now. (Shakes
her shoulder.)
Let you hearken! He is in need
of your help.

Nurse: He'll get it, he'll get it. I doted down
on that child! The best to laugh and to roar!

Manus: (Putting hand on her mouth.) Will
you be silent, you hag of a nurse? Can't you see
that I myself am Manus, the new King of Sorcha?

Nurse: (Starting back.) Do you say that?
And how's every bit of you? Sure I'd know you
in any place. Stand back till I'll get the full of
my eyes of you! Like the father you are, and you
need never be sorry to be that! Well, I said to
myself and you looking in at the window, I would
not believe but there's some drop of king's blood
in that lad!

Manus: That was not what you said to me!

Nurse: And wasn't the journey long on you
from Sorcha, that is at the rising of the sun? Is
it your foot-soldiers and your bullies you brought
with you, or did you come with your hound and
your deer-hound and with your horn?

Manus: There was no one knew of my journey.
I came bare alone. I threw a shell in the sea and
made a boat of it, and took the track of the wild
duck across the mountains of the waves.

Nurse: And where in the world wide did you
get that dress of a cook?

Manus: It was at a tailor's place near Oughtmana.
There was no one in the house but the mother. I
left my own clothes in her charge and my purse
of gold; I brought nothing but my own blue
sword. (Throws open blouse and shows it.) She gave
me this suit, where a cook from this house had
thrown it down in payment for a drink of milk.
I have no mind any person should know I am a king.
I am letting on to be a cook.

Nurse: I would sooner you to come as a champion
seeking battle, or a horseman that had gone astray,
or so far as a poet making praises or curses according
to his treatment on the road. It would be a bad
day I would see your father's son taken for a kitchen

Manus: I was through the world last night in
a dream. It was dreamed to me that the King's
daughter in this house is in a great danger.

Nurse: So she is, at the end of a twelvemonth.

Manus: My warning was for this day. Seeing
her under trouble in my dream, my heart was hot
to come to her help. I am here to save her, to
meet every troublesome thing that will come at

Nurse: Oh, my heavy blessing on you doing

Manus: I was not willing to come as a king,
that she would feel tied and bound to live for if
I live, or to die with if I should die. I am come
as a poor unknown man, that may slip away after
the fight, to my own kingdom or across the borders
of the world, and no thanks given him and no more
about him, but a memory of the shadow of a cook!

Nurse: I would not think that to be right,
and you the last of your race. It is best for you
to tell the King.

Manus: I lay my orders on you to tell no one
at all.

Nurse: Give me leave but to whisper it to the
Princess Nu. It's ye would be the finest two the
world ever saw. You will not find her equal in all

Manus: I lay it as crosses and as spells on you
to say no word to her or to any other that will
make known my race or my name. Give me now
your oath.

Nurse: (Kneeling.) I do, I do. But they will
know you by your high looks.

Manus: Did you yourself know me a while ago?

Nurse: (Getting up.) Oh, they're coming! Oh,
my poor child, what way will you that never handled
a spit be able to make out a dinner for the

Manus: This silver whistle, that was her pipe
of music, was given to me by a queen among the
Sidhe that is my godmother. At the sound of it
that will come through the air any earthly thing
I wish for, at my command.

Nurse: Let it be a dinner so.

Manus: So it will come, on a green tablecloth
carried by four swans as white as snow. The
freshest of every meat, the oldest of every drink,
nuts from the trees in Adam's Paradise!

(King, Queen, Princess, Dall Glic come in.
Princess sits on window sill.)

Queen: (To King.) Here now, my dear. Wasn't
I telling you I would take all trouble from your
mind, and that I would not be without finding a
cook for you?

King: He came in a good hour. The want of a
right dinner has downed kingdoms before this.

Queen: Travelling he is in search of service
from the kings of the earth. His wages are in no
way out of measure.

King: Is he a good hand at his trade?

Queen: Honest he is, I believe, and ready to
give a hand here and there.

King: What way does he handle flesh, I'd wish
to know? And all that comes up from the tide?
Bream, now; that is a fish is very pleasant to me—
stewed or fried with butter till the bones of it melt
in your mouth. There is nothing in sea or strand
but is the better of a quality cook—only oysters,
that are best left alone, being as they are all gravy
and fat.

Queen: I didn't question him yet about cookery.

King: It's seldom I met a woman with right
respect for food, but for show and silly dishes and
trash that would leave you in the finish as dwindled
as a badger on St. Bridget's day.

Queen: If this youth of a young man was able to
give satisfaction at the King of Sorcha's Court,
I am sure that he will make a dinner to please

Manus: I will do more than that. I will dress
a dinner that will please myself.

Princess: (Clapping hands.) Very well said!

King: Sound out now some good dishes such
as you used to be giving in Sorcha, and the Queen
will put them down in a line of writing, that I can
be thinking about them till such time as you will
have them readied.

Queen: There are sheeps' trotters below; you
might know some tasty way to dress them.

Manus: I do surely. I'll put the trotters within
a fowl, and the fowl within a goose, and the goose in
a suckling pig, and the suckling pig in a fat lamb,
and the lamb in a calf, and the calf in a Maderalla ...

King: What now is a Maderalla?

Manus: He is a beast that saves the cook trouble,
swallowing all those meats one after another—in

King: That should be a very pretty dish. Let
you go make a start with it the way we will not be
famished before nightfall. Bring him, Dall Glic,
to the larder.

Dall Glic: I'm in dread it's as good for him to
stop where he is.

King: What are you saying?

Dall Glic: Those lads of apprentices that left
nothing in it only bare hooks.

Nurse: It is the Queen would give no leave
for more provision to come in, saying there was
no one to prepare it.

Manus: If that is so, I will be forced to lay
my orders on the Hawk of the Grey Rock and the
Brown Otter of the Stream to bring in meat at
my bidding.

King: Hurry on so.

Queen: I myself will go and give you instructions
what way to use the kitchen.

Manus: Not at all! What I do I'd as lief do
in your own royal parlour! (Blows whistle; two dark-skinned
men come in with vessels.)
Give me here
those pots and pans!

Queen: What now is about to take place?

Dall Glic: I not to be blind, I would say those
to be very foreign-looking men.

King: It would seem as if the world was grown
to be very queer.

Queen: So it is, and the mastery being given
to a cook.

Manus: So it should be too! It is the King
of Shades and Shadows would have rule over the
world if it wasn't for the cooks!

King: There's some sense in that now.

(Strange men are moving and arranging baskets
and vessels.)

Manus: There was respect for cooks in the
early days of the world. What way did the Sons
of Tuireann get their death but going questing
after a cooking spit at the bidding of Lugh of the
Long Hand! And if a spit was worthy of the death
of heroes, what should the man be worth that is
skilled in turning it? What is the difference
between man and beast? Beast and bird devour
what they find and have no power to change it.
But we are Druids of those mysteries, having
magic and virtue to turn hard grain to tender cakes,
and the very skin of a grunting pig to crackling
causing quarrels among champions, and it singing
upon the coals. A cook! If I am I am not without
good generations before me! Who was the first
old father of us, roasting and reddening the fruits
of the earth from hard to soft, from bitter to kind,
till they are fit for a lady's platter? What is it
leaves us in the hard cold of Christmas but the
robbery from earth of warmth for the kitchen
fire of (takes off cap) the first and foremost of all
master cooks—the Sun!

Princess: You are surely not ashamed of your

Manus: To work now, to work. I'll engage to
turn out a dinner fit for Pharaoh of Egypt or
Pharamond King of the Franks! Here, Queen, is
a silver-breast phoenix—draw out the feathers—
they are pure silver—fair and clean. (Queen plucks
King, take your golden sceptre and stir
this pot.

(Gives him one.)

King: (Interested.) What now is in it?

Manus: A broth that will rise over the side
and be consumed and split if you stop stirring
it for one minute only! (King stirs furiously.)
Princess (She is looking on and he goes over to her),
there are honey cakes to roll out, but I will not
ask you to do it in dread that you might spoil the
whiteness ...

Princess: I have no mind to do it.

Manus: Of the flour!

Princess: Give them here.

(Rolls them out indignantly.)

Manus: That is right. Take care, King, would
the froth swell over the brim.

Princess: It seems to me you are doing but
little yourself.

Manus: I will turn now and ... boil these

(Takes some on a plate; they roll off.)

Princess: You have broken them.

Manus: (Disconcerted.) It was to show you a
good trick, how to make them sit up on the narrow

Princess: That is an old trick in the world.

Manus: Every trick is an old one, but with
a change of players, a change of dress, it comes
out as new as before. Princess (speaks low), I
have a message to give you and a pardon to ask.

Princess: Give me out the message.

Manus: Take courage and keep courage through
this day. Do not let your heart fail. There is
help beside you.

Princess: It has been a troublesome day indeed.
But there is a worse one and a great danger before
me in the far away.

Manus: That danger will come to-day, the
message said in the dream. Princess, I have a
pardon to ask you. I have been playing vanities.
I think I have wronged you doing this. It was
surely through no want of respect.

Gatekeeper: (Coming in.) There is word come
from Ballyvelehan there is a coach and horses
facing for this place over from Oughtmana.

Queen: Who would that be?

Gatekeeper: Up on the hill a woman was, brought
word it must be some high gentleman. She could
see all colours in the coach, and flowers on the
horse's heads.

Goes out.)

Dall Glic: That is good hearing. I was in
dread some man we would have no welcome for
would be the first to come in this day.

Queen: Not a fear of it. I had orders given
to the Gateman who he would and would not
keep out. I did that the very minute after the
King making his proclamation and his law.

King: Pup, pup. You need not be drawing
that down.

Queen: It is well you have myself to care you
and to turn all to good. I gave orders to the
Gateman, I say, no one to be let in to the door
unless carriage company, no other ones, even if they
should wipe their feet upon the mat. I notched
that in his mind, telling him the King was after
promising the Princess Nu in marriage to the first
man that would come into the house.

Manus: The King gave out that word?

Queen: I am after saying that he did.

Dall Glic: Come along, lad. Don't be putting
ears on yourself.

Manus: I ask the King did he give out that
promise as the Queen says?

King: I have but a poor memory.

Nurse: The King did say it within the hour,
and swore to it by the oath of his people, taking
contracts of the sun and moon of the air!

Dall Glic: What is it to you if he did? Come
on, now.

Manus: No. This is a matter that concerns

Queen: How do you make that out?

Manus: You, that called me in, know well that
I was the first to come into the house.

Queen: Ha, ha! You have the impudence! It
is a man the King said. He was not talking about

Manus: (To the King.) I am before you as a
serving lad, and you are a King in Ireland. Because
you are a King and I your hired servant you will not
refuse me justice. You gave your word.

King: If I did it was in haste and in vexation,
and striving to save her from destruction.

Manus: I call you to keep to your word and
to give your daughter to no other one.

Queen: Speak out now, Dall Glic, and give
your opinion and your advice.

Dall Glic: I would say that this lad going away
would be no great loss.

Manus: I did not ask such a thing, but as it
has come to me I will hold to my right.

Queen: It would be right to throw him to the
hounds in the kennel!

Manus: (To King.) I leave it to the judgment
of your blind wise man.

Queen: (To Dall Glic.) Take care would you
offend myself or the King!

Manus: I put it on you to split justice as it
is measured outside the world.

Dall Glic: It is hard for me to speak. He
has laid it hard on me. My good eye may go
asleep, but my blind eye never sleeps. In the
place where it is waking, an honourable man, king
or beggar, is held to his word.

King: Is it that I must give my daughter to
a lad that owns neither clod nor furrow? Whose
estate is but a shovel for the ashes and a tongs for
the red coals.

Queen: It is likely he is urged by the sting of
greed—it is but riches he is looking for.

King: I will not begrudge him his own asking
of silver and of gold!

Manus: Throw it out to the beggars on the
road! I would not take a copper half-penny!
I'll take nothing but what has come to me from
your own word!

(King bows his head.)

Princess: (Coming forward.) Then this battle
is not between you and an old king that is feeble,
but between yourself and myself.

Manus: I am sorry, Princess, if it must be a

Princess: You can never bring me away against
my will.

Manus: I said no word of doing that.

Princess: You think, so, I will go with you of
myself? The day I will do that will be the day
you empty the ocean!

Manus: I will not wait longer than to-day.

Princess: Many a man waited seven years for
a king's daughter!

Manus: And another seven—and seven generations
of hags. But that is not my nature.
I will not kneel to any woman, high or low, or
crave kindness that she cannot give.

Princess: Then I can go free!

Manus: For this day I take you in my charge.
I cross and claim you to myself, unless a better
man will come.

Princess: I would think it easier to find a better
man than one that would be worse to me!

Manus: If one should come that you think
to be a better man, I will give you your own way.

Princess: It is you being in the world at all
that is my grief.

Manus: Time makes all things clear. You
did not go far out in the world yet, my poor little

Princess: I would be well pleased to drive
you out through the same world!

Manus: With or without your goodwill, I
will not go out of this place till I have carried out
the business I came to do.

Dall Glic: Is it the falling of hailstones I hear
or the rumbling of thunder, or is it the trots of
horses upon the road?

Queen: (Looking out.) It is the big man that
is coming—Prince or Lord or whoever he may be.
(To Dall Glic.) Go now to the door to welcome
him. This is some man worth while. (To Manus.)
Let you get out of this.

Manus: No, whoever he is I'll stop and face
him. Let him know we are players in the one game!

King: And what sort of a fool will you make
of me, to have given in to take the like of you for
a son-in-law? They will be putting ridicule on me
in the songs.

Queen: If he must stop here we might put
some face on him.... If I had but a decent
suit.... Give me your cloak, Dall Glic. (He
gives it.)
Here now ... (To Manus.) Put this
around you.... (Manus takes it awkwardly.) It
will cover up your kitchen suit.

Manus: Is it this way?

Queen: You have no right handling of it—
stupid clown! This way!

Manus: (Flinging it off.) No, I'll change no
more suits! It is time for me to stop fooling and
give you what you did not ask yet, my name. I
will tell out all the truth.

Gatekeeper: (At door.) The King of Sorcha!
(Taig comes in.)

King and Queen: The King of Sorcha! (They
rush forward to greet him.)

Nurse: (To Manus.) Did ever anyone hear
the like!

Manus: It seems as if there will be a judgment
between the man and the clothes!

Queen: (To Taig.) There is someone here that
you know, King. This young man is giving out
that he was your cook.

Taig: He was not. I never laid an eye on him
till this minute.

Queen: I was sure he was nothing but a liar
when he said he would tell the truth! Now, King,
will you turn him out the door?

King: And what about the great dinner he has
me promised?

Manus: Be easy King. Whether or no you
keep your word to me I'll hold to mine! (Blows
In with the dishes! Take your places!
Let the music play out!

(Music plays, the strange men wheel in tables
and dishes.)




Scene: Same. Table cleared of all but vessels of
fruit, cocoa-nuts, etc. Queen and Taig sitting
in front, Nurse and Dall Glic standing in background

Queen: Now, King, the dinner being at an end,
and the music, we have time and quiet to be

Taig: It is with the King's daughter I am come
to talk.

Queen: Go, Dall Glic, call the Princess. She
will be here on the minute, but it is best for you
to tell me out if it is to ask her in marriage you
are come.

Taig: It is so, where I was after being told
she would be given as a wife to the first man that
would come into the house.

Queen: And who in the world wide gave that

Taig: It was the Gateman said it to a hawker
bringing lobsters from the strand, and that got no
leave to cross the threshold by reason of the oath
given out by the King. The half of the kingdom
she will get, they were telling me, and the king
living, and the whole of it after he will be dead.

Nurse: There did another come in before you.
Let me tell you that much!

Taig: There did not. The lobster man that
set a watch upon the door.

Queen: A great honour you did us coming
asking for her, and you being King of Sorcha!

Taig: Look at my ring and my crown. They
will bear witness that I am. And my kind coat of
cotton and my golden shirt! And under that
again there's a stiff pocket. (Slaps it.) Is there
e'er a looking-glass in any place? (Gets up.)

Dall Glic: There is the shining silver basin of
the swans in the garden without.

Taig: That will do. I would wish to look
tasty when I come looking for a lady of a wife.
(He and Dall Glic go outside window but in sight.)

(Princess comes in very proud and sad.)

Queen: You should be proud this day, Nuala,
and so grand a man coming asking you in marriage
as the King of Sorcha.

Nurse: Grand, indeed! As grand as hands and
pins can make him.

Princess: Are you not satisfied to have urged
me to one man and promised me to another since

Queen: What way could I know there was
this match on the way, and a better match beyond
measure? This is no black stranger going the
road, but a man having a copper crown over his
gateway and a silver crown over his palace door!
I tell you he has means to hang a pearl of gold
upon every rib of your hair! There is no one
ahead of him in all Ireland, with his chain and his
ring and his suit of the dearest silk!

Princess: If it was a suit I was to wed with he
might do well enough.

Queen: Equal in blood to ourselves! Brought
up to good behaviour and courage and mannerly ways.

Princess: In my opinion he is not.

Queen: You are talking foolishness. A King
of Sorcha must be mannerly, seeing it is he himself
sets the tune for manners.

Princess: He gave out a laugh when old Michelin
slipped on the threshold. He kicked at the dog
under the table that came looking for bones.

Queen: I tell you what might be ugly behaviour
in a common man is suitable and right in a king.
But you are so hard to please and so pettish, I am
seven times tired of yourself and your ways.

Princess: If no one could force me to give in
to the man that made a claim to me to-day, according
to my father's bond, that bond is there yet to
protect me from any other one.

Queen: Leave me alone! Myself and the
Dall Glic will take means to rid you of that lad
from the oven. I'll send in now to you the King
of Sorcha. Let you show civility to him, and the
wedding day will be to-morrow.

Princess: I will not see him, I will have nothing
to do with him; I tell you if he had the rents of
the whole world I would not go with him by day
or by night, on foot or on horseback, in light or in
darkness, in company or alone!

(Queen has gone while she cries this out.)

Nurse: The luck of the seven Saturdays on
himself and on the Queen!

Princess: Oh, Muime, do not let him come
near me! Have you no way to help me?

Nurse: It's myself that could help you if I
was not under bonds not to speak!

Princess: What is it you know? Why won't
you say one word?

Nurse: He put me under spells.... There
now, my tongue turned with the word to be dumb.

Taig: (At the window.) Not a fear of me,
Queen. It won't be long till I bring the Princess

Princess: I will not stay! Keep him here till
I will hide myself out of sight! (Goes.)

Taig: (Coming in.) They told me the Princess
was in it.

Nurse: She has good sense, she is in some other

Taig: (Sitting down.) Go call her to me.

Nurse: Who is it I will call her for?

Taig: For myself. You know who I am.

Nurse: My grief that I do not!

Taig: I am the King of Sorcha.

Nurse: If you say that lie again there will blisters
rise up on your face.

Taig: Take care what you are saying, you

Nurse: I know well what I am saying. I have
good judgment between the noble and the mean
blood of the world.

Taig: The Kings of Sorcha have high, noble

Nurse: If they have, there is not so much of
it in you as would redden a rib of scutch-grass.

Taig: You are crazed with folly and age.

Nurse: No, but I have my wits good enough.
You ought to be as slippery as a living eel, I'll
get satisfaction on you yet! I'll show out who
you are!

Taig: Who am I so?

Nurse: That is what I have to get knowledge
of, if I must ask it at the mouth of cold hell!

Taig: Do your best! I dare you!

Nurse: I will save my darling from you as sure
as there's rocks on the strand! A girl that refused
sons of the kings of the world!

Taig: And I will drag your darling from you
as sure as there's foxes in Oughtmana!

Nurse: Oughtmana ...Is that now your living

Taig: It is not.... I told you I came from
the far-off kingdom of Sorcha. Look at my cloak
that has on it the sign of the risen sun!

Nurse: Cloaks and suits and fringes. You have
a great deal of talk of them.... Have you e'er a
needle around you, or a shears?

Taig: (His hand goes to breast of coat, but he
withdraws it quickly.)
Here ...What
are you talking about? I know nothing at all of
such things.

Nurse: In my opinion you do. Hearken now.
I know where is the real King of Sorcha!

Taig: Bring him before me now till I'll down

Nurse: Say that the time you will come face
to face with him! Well, I'm under bonds to tell
out nothing about him, but I have liberty to make
known all I will find out about yourself.

Taig: Hurry on so. Little I care when once
I'm wed with the King's daughter!

Nurse: That will never be!

Taig: The Queen is befriending me and in
dread of losing me. I will threaten her if there
is any delay I'll go look for another girl of a

Nurse: I will make no delay. I'll have my
story and my testimony before the white dawn
of the morrow.

Taig: Do so and welcome! Before the yellow
light of this evening I'll be the King's son-in-law!
Bring your news, then, and little thanks you'll
get for it! The King and Queen must keep up
my name then for their own credit's sake. (Makes
a face at her as King comes in with Dall Glic, and
servants with cushions. Nurse goes out, shaking her
fist.) (Rises.)
I was just asking to see you, King,
to say there is a hurry on me....

King: (Sitting down on window seat while Servant
arranges cushions about him.)
Keep your business
a while. It's a poor thing to be going through
business the very minute the dinner is ended.

Taig: I wouldn't but that it is pressing.

King: Go now to the Queen, in her parlour,
and be chatting and whistling to the birds. I give
you my word since I rose up from the table I am
going here and there, up and down, craving and
striving to find a place where I'll get leave to lay
my head on the cushions for one little minute.

(Taig goes reluctantly.)

Dall Glic: (Taking cushions from servants.) Let
you go now and leave the King to his rest.

(They go out.)

King: I don't know in the world why anyone
would consent to be a king, and never to be left
to himself, but to be worried and wearied and
interfered with from dark to daybreak and from
morning to the fall of night.

Dall Glic: I will be going out now. I have
but one word only to say....

King: Let it be a short word! I would be
better pleased to hear the sound of breezes in
the sycamores, and the humming of bees in the
hive and the crooning and sleepy sounds of the

Dall Glic: There is one thing only could cause
me to annoy you.

King: It should be a queer big thing that
wouldn't wait till I have my rest taken.

Dall Glic: So it is a big matter, and a weighty

King: Not to be left in quiet and all I am after
using! Food that was easy to eat! Drink that
was easy to drink! That's the dinner that was
a dinner. That cook now is a wonder!

Dall Glic: That is now the very one I am wishful
to speak about.

King: I give you my word, I'd sooner have
one goose dressed by him than seven dressed by
any other one!

Dall Glic: The Queen that was urging me for
to put my mind to make out some way to get quit
of him.

King: Isn't it a hard thing the very minute
I find a lad can dress a dinner to my liking, I must
be made an attack on to get quit of him?

Dall Glic: It is on the head of the Princess Nu.

King: Tell me this, Dall Glic. Supposing, now,
he was spite of me wed with her
...against my will ...and it might be unknownst
to me.

Dall Glic: Such a thing must not happen.

King: To be sure, it must not happen. Why
would it happen? But supposing—I only said
supposing it did. Would you say would that
lad grow too high in himself to go into the kitchen might be only an odd time oblige
me ...and dress a dinner the same as he did

Dall Glic: I am sure and certain that he would
not. It is the way, it is, with the common sort,
the lower orders. He'd be wishful to sit on a chair
at his ease and to leave his hand idle till he'd grow
to be bulky and wishful for sleep.

King: That is a pity, a great pity, and a great
loss to the world. A big misfortune he to have
got it in his head to take a liking to the girl. I
tell you he was a great lad behind the saucepans!

Dall Glic: Since he did get it in his head, it is
what we have to do now, to make an end of

King: To gaol him now, and settle up ovens
and spits and all sorts in the cell, wouldn't he,
to shorten the day, be apt to start cooking?

Dall Glic: In my belief he will do nothing at
all, but to hold you to the promise you made,
and to force you to send away the King of Sorcha.

King: To have the misfortune of a cook for
a son-in-law, and without the good luck of profiting
by what he can do in his trade! That is a hard thing
for a father to put up with, let alone a king!

Dall Glic: If you will but listen to the advice
I have to give....

King: I know it without you telling me. You
are asking me to make away with the lad! And
who knows but the girl might turn on me after,
women are so queer, and say I had a right to have
asked leave from herself?

Dall Glic: There will no one suspect you of
doing it, and you to take my plan. Bid them
heat the big oven outside on the lawn that is for
roasting a bullock in its full bulk.

King: Don't be talking of roasted meat! I
think I can eat no more for a twelvemonth!

Dall Glic: There will be nothing roasted that
any person will have occasion to eat. When the
oven door will be open, give orders to your bullies
and your foot-soldiers to give a tip to him that
will push him in. When evening comes, news will
go out that he left the meat to burn and made off
on his rambles, and no more about him.

King: What way can I send orders when I'm
near crazed in my wits with the want of rest. A
little minute of sleep might soothe and settle my

(Lies down.)

Dall Glic: The least little word to give leave
...or a sign ...such as to nod the head.

King: I give you my word, my head is tired
nodding! Be off now and close the door after
you and give out that anyone that comes to this
side of the house at all in the next half-hour, his
neck will be on the block before morning!

Dall Glic: (Hurriedly.) I'm going! I'm


King: (Locking door and drawing window curtains.)
That you may never come back till I ask you!
(Lies down and settles himself on pillows.) I'll be
lying here in my lone listening to the pigeons
seeking their meal. "Coo-coo," they're saying,

(Closes eyes.)

Nurse: (At door.) Who is it locked the door?
(Shakes it.) Who is it is in it? What is going on
within? Is it that some bad work is after being
done in this place? Hi! Hi! Hi!

King: (Sitting up.) Get away out of that,
you torment of a nurse! Be off before I'll have
the life of you!

Nurse: The Lord be praised, it is the King's
own voice! There's time yet!

King: There's time, is there? There's time
for everyone to give out their chat and their gab,
and to do their business and take their ease and have
a comfortable life, only the King! The beasts
of the field have leave to lay themselves down in the
meadow and to stretch their limbs on the green
grass in the heat of the day, without being pestered
and plagued and tormented and called to and
wakened and worried, till a man is no less than
wore out!

Nurse: Up or down, I'll say what I have to
say, if it cost me my life. It is that I have to tell
you of a plot that is made and a plan!

King: I won't listen! I heard enough of
plots and plans within the last three minutes!

Nurse: You didn't hear this one. No one knows
of it only myself.

King: I was told it by the Dall Glic.

Nurse: You were not! I am only after making
it out on the moment!

King: A plot against the lad of the saucepans?

Nurse: That's it! That's it! Open now the door!

King: (Putting a cushion over each ear and
settling himself to sleep.)
Tell away and welcome!

(Shuts eyes.)

Nurse: That's right! You're listening. Give
heed now. That schemer came a while ago letting
on to be the King of Sorcha is no such thing! What
do you say?...Maybe you knew it before?
I wonder the Dall Glic not to have seen that for
himself with his one eye.... Maybe you don't
believe it? Well, I'll tell it out and prove it.
I have got sure word by running messenger that
came cross-cutting over the ridge of the hill....
That carrion that came in a coach, pressing to bring
away the Princess before nightfall, giving himself
out to be some great one, is no other than Taig the
Tailor, that should be called Taig the Twister,
down from his mother's house from Oughtmana,
that stole grand clothes which were left in the
mother's charge, he being out at the time cutting
cloth and shaping lies, and has himself dressed out
in them the way you'd take him to be King! (King
has slumbered peacefully all through.)
Now, what
do you say? Now, will you open the door?

Queen: (Outside.) What call have you to
shouting and disturbing the King?

Nurse: I have good right and good reason to
disturb him!

Queen: Go away and let me open the door.

Nurse: I will go and welcome now; I have
told out my whole story to the King.

Queen: (Shaking door.) Open the door, my
dear! It is I myself that is here! (King looks
up, listens, shakes his head and sinks back.)
you there at all, or what is it ails you?

Nurse: He is there, and is after conversing
with myself.

Queen: (Shaking again.) Let me in, my dear
King! Open! Open! Open! unless that the
falling sickness is come upon you, or that you are
maybe lying dead upon the floor!

Nurse: Not a dead in the world.

Queen: Go, Nurse, I tell you, bring the smith
from the anvil till he will break asunder the lock
of the door!

(King annoyed, waddles to door and opens it
suddenly. Queen stumbles in.)

King: What at all has taken place that you
come bawling and calling and disturbing my rest?

Queen: Oh! Are you sound and well? I was
in dread there did something come upon you,
when you gave no answer at all.

King: Am I bound to answer every call and
clamour the same as a hall-porter at the door?

Queen: It is business that cannot wait. Here
now is a request I have written to the bully of
the King of Alban, bidding him to strike the head
off whatever man will put the letter in his hand.
Write your name and sign to it, in three royal words.

King: I wouldn't sign a letter out of my right
hour if it was to make the rivers run gold. There
is nothing comes of signing letters but more trouble
in the end.

Queen: Give me, so, to bind it a drop of your
own blood as a token and a seal. You will not
refuse, and I telling you the messenger will go
with it, and that will lose his head through it, is no
less than that troublesome cook!

King: (With a roar.) Anyone to say that word
again I will not leave a head on any neck in the
kingdom! I declare on my oath it would be
best for me to take the world for my pillow and
put that lad upon the throne!

(Queen goes back frightened to door.)

Gateman: (Coming in.) There is a man coming
in that will take no denial. It is Fintan the

(Fintan enters with Dall Glic, Nurse, Princess,
Taig, Manus and Prince of the Marshes
crowding after him.)

King: Another disturbance! The whole world
would seem to be on the move!

Queen: Fintan! What brings him here again?

Fintan: A great deceit? A terrible deception!

King: What at all is it?

Fintan: Long and all as I'm in the world, such
a thing never happened in my lifetime!

Queen: What is it has happened?

Fintan: It is not any fault of myself or any
miscounting of my own! I am certain sure of
that much. Is it that the stars of heaven are
gone astray, they that are all one with a clock—
unless it might be on a stormy night when they
are wild-looking around the moon.

King: Go on with your story and stop your

Fintan: The first time ever I came to this place
I made a prophecy.

Dall Glic: You did, about the child was in the

Fintan: And that was but new in the world.
It is what I said, that she was born under a certain
star, and that in a score of years all but two,
whatever acting was going on in that star at the
time she was born, she would get her crosses in the
same way.

Dall Glic: The cross you foretold to her was
to be ate by a Dragon. You laid down it would
come upon a twelvemonth from this very day.

Fintan: That's it. That was according to
my reckoning. There was no mistake in that.
And I thought better of the Seven Stars than
they to make a fool of me, after all the respect
I had showed them, giving my life to watching
themselves and the plans they have laid down
for men and for mortals.

King: It seems as if I myself was the best prophet
and that there is no Dragon at all.

Fintan: What a bad opinion you have of me
that I would be so far out as that! It would be
a deception and a disappointment out of measure,
there to come no Dragon, and I after foretelling
and prophesying him.

King: Troth, it would be no disappointment
at all to ourselves.

Fintan: It would be better, I tell you, a score
of king's daughters to be ate and devoured, than
the high stars in their courses to be proved wrong.
But it must be right, it surely must be right. I
gave the prophecy according to her birth hour,
that was one hour before the falling back of the sun.

Dall Glic: It was not, but an hour before the
rising of the sun.

Fintan: Not at all! It was the Nurse herself
told me it was at evening she was born.

Queen: There is the Nurse now. Let you ask
her account.

Fintan: (To Nurse.) It was yourself laid down
it was evening!

Nurse: Sure I wasn't in the place at all till
Samhuin time, when she was near three months
in the world.

Fintan: Then it was some other hag the very
spit of you! I wish she didn't tell a lie.

Nurse: Sure that one was banished out of this
on the head of telling lies. An hour ere sunrise,
and before the crowing of the cocks. The Dall
Glic will tell you that much.

Dall Glic: That is so. I have it marked upon
the genealogies in the chest.

Fintan: That is great news! It was a heavy
wrong was done me! It had me greatly upset.
Twelve hours out in laying down the birth-time!
That clears the character of myself and
of the carwheel of the stars. I knew I could
make no mistake in my office and in my

King: Will you stop praising yourself and give
out some sense?

Fintan: Knowledge is surely the greatest thing
in the world! And truth! Twelve hours with
the planets is equal to twelve months on earth.
I am well satisfied now.

Queen: So the Dragon is not coming, and the
girl is in no danger at all?

Fintan: Not coming! Heaven help your poor
head! Didn't I get word within the last half-hour
he is after leaving his den in the Kingdoms of the
Cold, and is at this minute ploughing his way to
Ireland, the same as I foretold him, but that I
made a miscount of a year?

Nurse: (Putting her arm round Princess.) Och!
do not listen or give heed to him at all!

Queen: When is he coming so?

Fintan: Amn't I tired telling you this day
in the place of this day twelvemonth. But as to
the minute, there's too much lies in this place
for me to be rightly sure.

King: The curse of the seven elements upon

Fintan: Little he'll care for your cursing. The
whole world wouldn't stop him coming to your
own grand gate.

Princess: (Coming forward.) Then I am to die

Fintan: You are, without he will be turned
back by someone having a stronger star than your
own, and I know of no star is better, unless it might
be the sun.

Queen: If you had minded me, and given in
to ring the wedding bells, you would be safe out
of this before now.

Fintan: That Dragon not to find her before
him, he will ravage and destroy the whole district
with the poisonous spittle of his jaw, till the want
will be so great the father will disown his son and
will not let him in the door. Well, good-bye to ye!
Ye'll maybe believe me to have foreknowledge
another time, and I proved to be right. I have
knocked great comfort out of that!


King: Oh, my poor child! My poor little
Nu! I thought it never would come to pass, I
to be sending you to the slaughter. And I too
bulky to go out and face him, having led an easy life!

Princess: Do not be fretting.

King: The world is gone to and fro! I'll
never ask satisfaction again either in bed or board,
but to be wasting away with watercresses and rising
up of a morning before the sun rises in Babylon!
(Weeps.) Oh, we might make out a way to baffle
him yet! Is there no meal will serve him only
flesh and blood? Try him with Grecian wine,
and with what was left of the big dinner a while ago!

Gateman: (Coming in.) There is some strange
thing in the ocean from Aran out. At first it was
but like a bird's shadow on the sea, and now you
would nearly say it to be the big island would have
left its moorings, and it steering its course towards

Dall Glic: I'm in dread it should be the Dragon
that has cleared the ocean at a leap!

King: (Holding Princess.) I will not give you
up! Let him devour myself along with you!

Dull Glic: (To Princess.) It is best for me
to put you in a hiding-hole under the ground,
that has seven locked doors and seven locks on
the farthest door. It might fail him to make
you out.

Nurse: Oh, it would be hard for her to go
where she cannot hear the voice of a friend or
see the light of day!

Princess: Would you wish me to save myself
and let all the district perish? You heard what
Fintan said. It is not right for destruction to be
put on a whole province, and the women and the
children that I know.

Queen: There is maybe time yet for you to

Princess: So long as I am living I have a choice.
I will not be saved in that way. It is alone I will
be in my death.

Manus: (Coming to King.) I am going out
from you, King. I might not be coming in to
you again. I would wish to set you free from
the promise you made me a while ago, and the bond.

King: What does it signify now? What does
anything signify, and the world turning here and

Manus: And another thing. I would wish to
ask pardon of the King's daughter. I ought not
to have laid any claim to her, being a stranger in
this place and without treasure or attendance.
And yet ...and yet ...(stoops and kisses hem
of her dress)
, she was dear to me. It is a man who
never may look on her again is saying that.

(Turns to door.)

Taig: He is going to run from the Dragon!
It is kind father for a scullion to be timid!

Queen: It is in his blood. He is maybe not
to blame for what is according to his nature.

Manus: That is so. I am doing what is according
to my nature.

(Goes, Nurse goes after him.)

Queen: (To Dall Glic.) Go throw a dishcloth
after him that the little lads may be mocking him
along the road!

Dall Glic: I will not. I have meddled enough
at your bidding. I am done with living under
dread. Let you blind me entirely! I am free
of you. It might be best for me the two eyes to
be withered, and I seeing nothing but the ever-living

Prince of Marshes: (Coming to Princess.) It is
my grief that with all the teachers I had there was
not one to learn me the handling of weapons or
of arms. But for all that I will not run away,
but will strive to strike one blow in your defence
against that wicked beast.

Princess: It is a good friend that would rid
us of him. But it grieves me that you should
go into such danger.

Prince of Marshes: (To Dall Glic.) Give me
some sword or casting spears.

(Dall Glic gives him spears.)

Princess: I am sorry I made fun of you a while
ago. I think you are a good kind man.

Prince of Marshes; (Kissing her hand.) Having
that word of praise I will bring a good heart into
the fight.


(Taig is slipping out after him.)

Queen: See now the King of Sorcha slipping
away into the fight. Stop here now! (Pulls him
You have a life that is precious to many
besides yourself. Do not go without being well
armed—and with a troop of good fighting men
at your back.

Taig: I am greatly obliged to you. I think
I'll be best with myself.

Queen: You have no suit or armour upon you.

Taig: That is what I was thinking.

Queen: Here anyway is a sword.

Taig: (Taking it.) That's a nice belt now.
Well worked, silver thread and gold.

Queen: The King's own guard will go out with

Taig: I wouldn't ask one of them! What
would you think of me wanting help! A Dragon!
Little I'd think of him. I'll knock the life out of
him. I'll give him cruelty!

Queen: You have great courage indeed!

Taig: I'll cut him crossways and lengthways
the same as a yard of frieze! I'll make garters of
his body! I'll smooth him with a smoothing iron!
Not a fear of me! I never lost a bet yet that I
wasn't able to pay it!

Gateman: (As he rushes in, Taig slips away.)
The Dragon! The Dragon! I seen it coming and
its mouth open and a fiery flame from it! And
nine miles of the sea is dry with all it drank of it!
The whole country is gathering the same as of a
fair day for to see him devour the Princess.

(Princess trembles and sinks into a chair.
King, Queen and Dall Glic look from
window. They turn to her as they

Queen: There is a terrible splashing in the sea!
It is like as if the Dragon's tail had beaten it into
suds of soap!

Dall Glic: He is near as big as a whale!

King: He is, and bigger!

Queen: I see him! I see him! He would seem
to have seven heads!

Dall Glic: I see but one.

Queen: You would see more if you had your
two eyes! He has six heads at the least!

King: He has but one. He is twisting and
turning it around.

Dall Glic: He is coming up towards the flaggy

King: I hear him! He is snoring like a flock
of pigs!

Queen: He is rearing his head in the air! He
has teeth as long as a tongs!

Doll Glic: No, but his tail he is rearing up!
It would take a ladder forty feet long to get to
the tip of it!

Queen: There is the King of Sorcha going out
the gate for to make an end of him.

Dall Glic: So he is, too. That is great bravery.

King: He is going to one side. He is come
to a stop.

Dall Glic: It seems to me he is ready to fall in
his standing. He is gone into a little thicket of
furze. He is not coming out, but is lying crouched
up in it the same as a hare in a tuft. I can see his
shoulders narrowed up.

Queen: He maybe got a weakness.

King: He did, maybe, of courage. Shaking
and shivering, he is like a hen in thunder. In my
opinion, he is hiding from the fight.

Queen: There is the Prince of the Marshes
going out now, and his coach after him! And
his two aunts sitting in it and screeching to him
not to run into danger!

King: He will not do much. He has not pith
or power to handle arms. That sort brings a bad
name on kings.

Dall Glic: He is gone away from the coach.
He is facing to the flaggy shore!

Queen: Oh, the Dragon has put up his head
and is spitting at him!

King: He has cast a spear into its jaw! Good man!

(Princess goes over to window.)

Dall Glic: He is casting another! His hand
shook did not go straight. He is gone
on again! He has cast another spear! It should
hit the beast let a roar!

Princess: Good little Prince! What way is
the battle now?

Dall Glic: It will kill him with its fiery breath!
He is running now ...he is stumbling ...the
Dragon is after him! He is up again! The two
Aunts have pushed him into the coach and have
closed the iron door.

King: It will fail the beast to swallow him coach
and all. It is gone back to refresh itself in the sea.
You can hear it puffing and plunging!

Queen: There is nothing to stop it now. (To
If you have e'er a prayer, now is the
time to say it.

Dall Glic: Stop a minute ...there is another
champion going out.

King: A man wearing a saffron suit ...who
is he at all? He has the look of one used to giving

Princess: (Looking out.) Oh! he is but going
to his death. It would be better for me to throw
myself into the tide and make an end of it.

(Is rushing to door.)

King: (Holding her.) He is drawing his sword.
Himself and the Dragon are thrusting at one
another on the flags!

Princess: Oh, close the curtains! Shut out the
sound of the battle.

(Dall Glic closes curtains.)

King: Strike up now a tune of music that will
deafen the sound!

(Orchestra plays. Princess is kneeling by
King. Music changes from discord to
victory. Two Aunts and Gateman rush
in. Noise of cheering heard without as
the Gateman silences music.)

Gateman: Great news and wonderful news and
a great story!

First Aunt: The fight is ended!

Second Aunt: The Dragon is brought to his
last goal!

Gateman: That young fighting man that has
him flogged! Made at him like a wave breaking
on the strand! They crashed at one another like
two days of judgment! Like the battle of the
cold with the heat!

First Aunt: You'd say he was going through
dragons all his life!

Second Aunt: It can hardly put a stir out of

Gateman: That champion has it baffled and
mastered! It is after being chased over seven
acres of ground!

First Aunt: Drove it to its knees on the flaggy
shore and made an end of it!

King: God bless that man to-day and to-morrow!

Second Aunt: He has put it in a way it will eat
no more kings' daughters!

Princess: And the stranger that mastered it—
is he safe?

First Aunt: What signifies if he is or is not, so
long as we have our own young prince to bring

Gatekeeper: He is not safe. No sooner had he
the beast killed and conquered than he fell dead,
and the life went out of him.

Princess: Oh, that is not right! He to be dead
and I living after him!

King: He was surely noble and high-blooded.
There are some that will be sorry for his death.

Princess: And who should be more sorry than
I myself am sorry? Who should keen him unless
myself? There is a man that gave his life for me,
and he young and all his days before him and shut
his eyes on the white world for my sake!

Queen: Indeed he was a man you might have
been content to wed with, hard and all as you are
to please.

Princess: I never will wed with any man so
long as my life will last, that was bought for me
with a life was more worthy by far than my own!
He is gone out of my reach; let him wait for me
to give him my thanks on the other side. Bring
me now his sword and his shield till I will put
them before me and cry my eyes down with grief!

Gateman: Here is his cap for you, anyway, and
his cleaver and his bunch of skivers. For the
champion you are crying was no other than that
lad of a cook!

Queen: That is not true! It is not possible!

Gateman: Sure I seen him myself going out the
gate a while ago. He put off his cook's apparel
and threw it along with these behind the turfstack. I
gathered them up presently and I coming in the door.

King: The world is gone beyond me entirely!
But what I was saying all through, there was
something beyond the common in that boy!

Queen: (To Princess, who is clinging to chair.)
Let you be comforted now, knowing he cannot
come back to lay claim to you in marriage, as it
is likely he would, and he living.

Princess: It is he saved me after my unkindness!...
Oh, I am ashamed ...ashamed!

Queen: It is a queer thing a king's daughter
to be crying after a man used to twisting the spit
in place of weapons, and over skivers in the place
of a sword!

Princess: (Gropes and totters.) What has happened?
There is something gone astray! I have
no respect for myself.... I cannot live! I am
ashamed. Where is Nurse? Muime! Come to
me, Muime!...My grief! The man that died
for me, whether he is of the noble or the simple
of the world, it is to him I have given the love of
my soul!

(Dall Glic supports her and lays her on
window seat.)

Nurse: (Rushing in.) What is it, honey?
What at all are they after doing to you?

Queen: Throw over her a skillet of water. She
is gone into a faint.

Dall Glic: (Who is bending over her.) She is
in no faint. She is gone out.

Nurse: Oh, my child and my darling! What
call had I to leave you among them at all?

King: Raise her up. It is impossible she can
be gone.

Dall Glic: Gone out and spent, as sudden as
a candle in a blast of wind.

King: Who would think grief would do away
with her so sudden, there to be seven of the like
of him dead?

Nurse: (Rises.) What did you do to her at all,
at all? Or was it through the fright and terror
of the beast?

Queen: She died of the heartbreak, being told
that the strange champion that had put down the
Dragon was killed dead.

Nurse: Killed, is it? Who now put that lie
out of his mouth? (Shouts in her ear.) What
would ail him to be dead? It is myself can tell
you the true story. No man in Ireland ever was
half as good as him! It was himself mastered the
beast and dragged the heart out of him and forced
down a squirrel's heart in its place, and slapped a
bridle on him. And he himself did but stagger
and go to his knees in the heat and drunkenness
of the battle, and rose up after as good as ever he
was! It is out putting ointments on him that I
was up to this, and healing up his cuts and wounds!
Oh, what ails you, honey, that you will not waken?

Queen: She thought it to be a champion and a
high up man that had died for her sake. It is
what broke her down in the latter end, hearing
him to be no big man at all, but a clown!

Nurse: Oh, my darling! And I not here to
tell you! You are a motherless child, and the
curse of your mother will be on me! It was no
clown fought for you, but a king, having generations
of kings behind him, the young King of Sorcha,
Manus, son of Solas son of Lugh.

King: I would believe that now sooner than
many a thing I would hear.

Nurse: (Keening.) Oh, my child, and my
share! I thought it was you would be closing my
eyes, and now I am closing your own! You to
be brought away in your young youth! Your hand
that was whiter than the snow of one night, and
the colour of the foxglove on your cheek.

(A great shouting outside and burst of music.
A march played. Manus comes in, followed
by Fintan and Prince of the Marshes.
Shouts and music continue. He leads the
Dragon by a bridle. The others are in
front of Princess, huddled from Dragon.
Queen gets up on a chair.)

Manus: Where is the Princess Nu? I have
brought this beast to bow itself at her feet.

(All are silent. Manus flings bridle to
Fintan's hand. Dragon backs out. All
go aside from Princess.)

Nurse: She is here dead before you.

Manus: That cannot be! She was well and
living half an hour ago.

Nurse: (Rises.) Oh, if she could but waken
and hear your voice! She died with the fret of
losing you, that is heaven's truth! It is tormented
she was with these giving out you were done away
with, and mocking at your weapons that they laid
down to be the cleaver and the spit, till the heart
broke in her like a nut.

Manus: (Kneeling beside her.) Then it is myself
have brought the death darkness upon you at the
very time I thought to have saved you!

Nurse: There is no blame upon you, but some
that had too much talk!

(Goes on keening.)

Manus: What call had I to come humbugging
and letting on as I did, teasing and tormenting
her, and not coming as a King should that is come
to ask for a Queen! Oh, come back for one minute
only till I will ask your pardon!

Dall Glic: She cannot come to you or answer
you at all for ever.

Manus: Then I myself will go follow you and
will ask for your forgiveness wherever you are gone,
on the Plain of Wonder or in the Many-Coloured
Land! That is all I can do go after you
and tell you it was no want of respect that brought
me in that dress, but hurry and folly and taking
my own way. For it is what I have to say to you,
that I gave you my heart's love, what I never gave
to any other, since first I saw you before me in
my sleep! Here, now, is a short road to reach you!

(Takes sword.)

Prince of Marshes: (Catching his hand.) Go
easy now, go easy.

Manus: Take off your hand! I say I will die
with her!

Prince of Marshes: That will not raise her up
again. But I, now, if I have no skill in killing
beasts or men, have maybe the means of bringing
her back to life.

Nurse: Oh, my blessing on you! What is it
you have at all?

Prince of Marshes: (Taking bag from his Aunt.)
These three leaves from the Tree of Power that
grows by the Well of Healing. Here they are
now for you, tied with a thread of the wool of
the sheep of the Land of Promise. There is power
in them to bring one person only back to life.

First Aunt: Give them back to me! You
have your own life to think of as well as any other

Second Aunt: Do not spend and squander that
cure on any person but yourself!

Prince of Marshes: (Giving the leaves.) And if
I have given her my love that it is likely I will
give to no other woman for ever, indeed and
indeed, I would not ask her or wish her to wed
with a very frightened man, and that is what I
was a while ago. But you yourself have earned her,
being brave.

Manus: (Taking leaves.) I never will forget it
to you. You will be a brave man yet.

Prince of Marshes: Give me in place of it your
sword; for I am going my lone through the world
for a twelvemonth and a day, till I will learn to
fight with my own hand.

(Manus gives him sword. He throws off cloak
and outer coat and fastens it on.)

Nurse: Stand back, now. Let the whole of ye
stand back. (She lays a leaf on the Princess's mouth
and one on each of her hands.)
I call on you by
the power of the Seven Belts of the Heavens, of
the Twelve Winds of the World, of the Three
Waters of the Sea!

(Princess stirs slightly.)

King: That is a wonder of wonders! She is stirring!

Manus: Oh, my share of the world! Are you
come back to me?

Princess: It was a hard fight he wrestled with.
...I thought I heard his voice.... Is he come
from danger?

Nurse: He did. Here he is. He that saved
you and that killed the Dragon, and that let on
to be a serving boy, and he no less than one of
the world's kings!

Manus: Here I am, my dear, beside you, to be
your comrade and your company for ever.

Princess: You!...Yes, it is yourself. Forgive
me. I am sorry that I spoke unkindly to you
a while ago; I am ashamed that it failed me to
know you to be a king.

(She stands up, helped by Nurse.)

Manus: It was my own fault and my folly.
What way could you know it? There is nothing
to forgive.

Princess: But ...if I did not recognise you
as a king ...anyway ...the time you dropped
the eggs ...I was nearly certain that you were
no cook!

(They embrace.)

Queen: There now I have everything brought
about very well in the finish!

(A scream at door. Taig rushes in, followed
by Sibby, in country dress. He kneels at
the Queen's feet, holding on to her skirt

Sibby: Bad luck and bad cess to you! Torment
and vexation on you! (Seizes him by back of neck
and shakes him
.) You dirty little scum and leavings!
You puny shrimp you! You miserable ninth part
of a man!

Queen: Is it King or the Dragon Killer he is
letting on to be yet, or do you know what he is
at all?

Sibby: It's myself knows that, and does know
it! He being Taig the tailor, my own son and
my misfortune, that stole away from me a while
ago, bringing with him the grand clothes of that
young champion (points to Manus) and his gold!
To borrow a team of horses from the plough he
did, and to bring away the magistrate's coach! But
I followed him! I came tracking him on the road!
Put off now those shoes that are too narrow for
you, you red thief, you! For, believe me, you'll
go facing home on shank's mare!

Taig: (Whimpering.) It's a very unkind thing
you to go screeching that out before the King,
that will maybe strike my head off!

Sibby: Did ever you know of anyone making a
quarrel in a whisper? To wed with the King's
daughter, you would? To go vanquish the water-worm,
you would? I'll engage you ran before you
went anear him!

Taig: If I didn't I'd be tore with his claws
and scorched with his fiery breath. It is likely
I'd be going home dead!

Sibby: Strip off now that cloak and that body-coat
and come along with me, or I'll make split
marrow of you! What call have you to a suit
that is worth more than the whole of the County
Mayo? You're tricky and too much tricks in you,
and you were born for tricks! It would be right
you to be turned into the shape of a limping
foxy cat!

Taig: (Weeping as he takes off clothes.) Sure
I thought it no harm to try to go better

Prince of Marshes: (Giving his cloak and coat.)
Here, I bestow these to you. If you were a while
ago a tailor among kings, from this out you will
be a king among tailors.

Sibby: (Curtseying.) Well, then, my thousand
blessings on you! He'll be as proud as the world
of that. Now, Taig, you'll be as dressed up as the

best of them! Come on now to Oughtmana, as
it is long till you'll quit it.

(They go towards door.)

Dragon: (Putting his head in at window.) Manus,
King of Sorcha, I am starved with the want of food.
Give me a bit to eat.

Fintan: He is not put down! He will devour
the whole of us! I'd sooner face a bullet and
ten guns!

Dragon: It is not mannerly to eat without
being invited. Is it any harm to ask where will
I find a meal will suit me?

Princess: Oh, does he ask to make a meal of
me, after all?

Dragon: I am hungry and dancing with the
hunger! It was you, Manus, stopped me from the
one meal. Let you set before me another.

King: There is reason in that. Drive up now
for him a bullock from the meadow.

Dragon: Manus, it is not bullocks I am craving,
since the time you changed the heart within me
for the heart of a little squirrel of the wood.

Manus: (Taking a cocoa-nut from table.) Here
is a nut from the island of Lanka, that is called
Adam's Paradise. Milk there is in it, and a kernel
as white as snow.

(He throws it out. Dragon is heard crunching.)

Dragon: (Putting head in again.) More! Give
me more of them! Give them out to me by the
dozen and by the score!

Manus: You must go seek them in the east of
the world, where you can gather them in bushels
on the strand.

Dragon: So I will go there! I'll make no delay!
I give you my word, I'd sooner one of them than
to be cracking the skulls of kings' daughters, and
the blood running down my jaws. Blood! Ugh!
It would disgust me! I'm in dread it would cause
vomiting. That and to have the plaits of hair
tickling and tormenting my gullet!

Princess: (Claps hands.) That is good hearing,
and a great change of heart.

Dragon: But if it's a tame dragon I am from this
out, I'm thinking it's best for me to make away
before you know it, or it's likely you'll be yoking
me to harrow the clods, or to be dragging the
water-car from the spring well. So good-bye the
whole of ye, and get to your supper. Much good
may it do you! I give you my word there is
nothing in the universe I despise, only the flesh-eaters
of Adam's race!



I wrote The Dragon in 1917, that now seems so many long years away, and I have been trying to remember how I came to write it. I think perhaps through some unseen inevitable kick of the swing towards gay-coloured comedy from the shadow of tragedy. It was begun seriously enough, for I see among my scraps of manuscripts that the earliest outline of it is entitled "The Awakening of a Soul," the soul of the little Princess who had not gone "far out in the world." And that idea was never quite lost, for even when it had all turned to comedy I see as an alternative name "A Change of Heart." For even the Dragon's heart is changed by force, as happens in the old folk tales and the heart of some innocent creature put in its place by the conqueror's hand; all change more or less except the Queen. She is yet satisfied that she has moved all things well, and so she must remain till some new breaking up or re-birth.

As to the framework, that was once to have been the often-told story of a King's daughter given to whatever man can "knock three laughs out of her." As well as I remember the first was to have been when the eggs were broken, and another when she laughed with the joy of happy love. But the third was the stumbling-block. It was necessary the ears of the Abbey audience should be tickled at the same time as those of the Princess, and old-time jests like those of Sir Dinadin of the Round Table seem but dull to ears of to-day. So I called to my help the Dragon that has given his opportunity to so many a hero from Perseus in the Greek Stories to Shawneen in those of Kiltartan. And he did not sulk or fail me, for after one of the first performances the producer wrote: "I wish you had seen the play last night when a big Northern in the front of the stalls was overcome with helpless laughter, first by Sibby and then by the Dragon. He sat there long after the curtain fell, unable to move and wiping the tears from his eyes; the audiences stopped going out and stood and laughed at him." And even a Dragon may think it a feather in his cap to have made Ulster laugh.


Coole, February, 1920.


"The Dragon " was first produced at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on 21st April, 1919, with the following cast:



The Princess Nuala EITHNE MAGEE

The Dall Glic (The Blind Wise Man) PETER NOLAN


The Prince of the Marshes J. HUGH NAGLE

Manus—King of Sorcha ARTHUR SHIELDS

Fintan—The Astrologer F.J. MACCORMICK




The Gatekeeper HUBERT M'GUIRE

Two Aunts of the Prince of the Marshes {ESME WARD



The Mother.





Flannery (HIS HERD).

Two Cats.



Scene: A Room in an old half-ruined castle.

Mother: Look out the door, Celia, and see is
your uncle coming.

Celia: (Who is lying on the ground, a bunch of
ribbons in her hand, and playing with a pigeon, looks
towards door without getting up
.) I see no sign of

Mother: What time were you telling me it was
a while ago?

Celia: It is not five minutes hardly since I was
telling you it was ten o'clock by the sun.

Mother: So you did, if I could but have kept
it in mind. What at all ails him that he does not
come in to the breakfast?

Celia: He went out last night and the full moon
shining. It is likely he passed the whole night
abroad, drowsing or rummaging, whatever he does
be looking for in the rath.

Mother: I'm in dread he'll go crazy with digging
in it.

Celia: He was crazy with crossness before that.

Mother: If he is it's on account of his learning.
Them that have too much of it are seven times
crosser than them that never saw a book.

Celia: It is better to be tied to any thorny bush
than to be with a cross man. He to know the
seventy-two languages he couldn't be more crabbed
than what he is.

Mother: It is natural to people do be so clever
to be fiery a little, and not have a long patience.

Celia: It's a pity he wouldn't stop in that
school he had down in the North, and not to come
back here in the latter end of life.

Mother: Ah, he was maybe tired with enlightening
his scholars and he took a notion to acquaint
ourselves with knowledge and learning. I was
trying to reckon a while ago the number of the
years he was away, according to the buttons of my
gown (fingers bodice), but they went astray on me
at the gathers of the neck.

Celia: If the hour would come he'd go out of
this, I'd sing, I'd play on all the melodeons that
ever was known! (Sings.) (Air, "Shule Aroon.")

"I would not wish him any ill,
But were he swept to some far hill
It's then I'd laugh and laugh my fill,
Coo, Coo, my birdeen bán astore.

"I wish I was a linnet free
To rock and rustle on the tree
With none to haste or hustle me,
Coo, Coo, my birdeen bán astore!"

Mother: Did you make ready now what will
please him for his breakfast?

Celia: (Laughing.) I'm doing every whole
thing, but you know well to please him is not

Mother: It is going astray on me what sort of
egg best suits him, a pullet's egg or the egg of a

Celia: I'd go search out if it would satisfy him
the egg of an eagle having eyes as big as the moon,
and feathers of pure gold.

Mother: Look out again would you see him.

Celia: (Sitting up reluctantly.) I wonder will
the rosy ribbon or the pale put the best appearance
on my party dress to-night? (Looks out.) He is
coming down the path from the rath, and he having
his little old book in his hand, that he gives out
fell down before him from the skies.

Mother: So there is a little book, whatever
language he does be wording out of it.

Celia: If you listen you'll hear it now, or hear
his own talk, for he's mouthing and muttering as
he travels the path.

Conan: (Comes in: the book in his hand open,
he is not looking at it
.) "Life is the flame of the
heart ...that heat is of the nature of the stars." ...It
is Aristotle had knowledge to turn that
flame here and there.... What way now did he
do that?

Mother: Ah, I'm well pleased to see you coming
in, Conan. I was getting uneasy thinking you
were gone astray on us.

Conan: (Dropping his book and picking it up
.) I never knew the like of you, Maryanne,
under the canopy of heaven. To be questioning
me with your talk, and I striving to keep my mind
upon all the wisdom of the ancient world. (Sits
down beside fire

Mother: So you would be too. It is well able
you are to do that.

Conan: (To Celia.) Have you e'er a meal to
leave down to me?

Celia: It will be ready within three minutes of

Conan: Wasting the morning on me! What
good are you if you cannot so much as boil the
breakfast? Hurry on now.

Celia: Ah, hurry didn't save the hare. (Sings
ironically as she prepares breakfast
.) (Air, "Mo
Bhuachailin Buidhe

"Come in the evening or come in the morning,
Come when you're looked for or come without warning;
Kisses and welcome you'll find here before you
And the oftner you come here the more I'll adore you."

Conan: Give me up the tea-pot.

Celia: Best leave it on the coals awhile.

Conan: Give me up those eggs so. (Seizes them.)

Celia: You can take the tea-pot too if you are
calling for it. (Goes on singing mischievously as
she turns a cake

"I'll pull you sweet flowers to wear if you'll choose them,
Or after you've kissed them they'll lie on my bosom."

Conan: (Breaking eggs.) They're raw and

Celia: There's no one can say which is best,
hurry or delay.

Conan: You had them boiled in cold water!

Celia: That's where you're wrong.

Conan: The young people that's in the world
now, if you had book truth they wouldn't believe
it. (Flings eggs into the fire and pours out tea.)

Mother: I hope now that is pleasing to you?

Conan: (Threatening Celia with spoon.) My
seven curses on yourself and your fair-haired tea.
(Puts back tea-pot.)

Celia: (Laughing.) It was hurry left it so weak
on you!

Mother: Ah, don't be putting reproaches on
him. Crossness is a thing born with us. It do run
in the blood. Strive now to let him have a quiet life.

Conan: I am not asking a quiet life! But to
come live with your own family you might as well
take your coffin on your back!

Celia: (Sings.)

"We'll look on the stars and we'll list to the river
'Till you ask of your darling what gift you can give her."

Conan: That girl is a disgrace sitting on the
floor the way she is! If I had her for a while I'd
put betterment on her. No one that was under
me ever grew slack!

Celia: You would never be satisfied and you
to see me working from dark to dark as hard as a
pismire in the tufts.

Mother: Leave her now, she's a quiet little girl
and comely.

Conan: Comely! I'd sooner her to be like the
ugliest sod of turf that is pockmarked in the bog,
and a handy housekeeper, and her pigeon doing
something for the world if it was but scaring its
comrades on a stick in a barley garden!

Celia: Ah, do you hear him! (Stroking pigeon.)

"But when your friend is forced to flee
You'll spread your white wings on the sea
And fly and follow after me—
Go-dé tu Mavourneen slân!"

Mother: I wonder you to be going into the rath
the way you do, Conan. It is a very haunted place.

Conan: Don't be bothering me. I have my
reason for that.

Mother: I often heard there is many a one lost
his wits in it.

Conan: It's likely they hadn't much to lose.
Without the education anyone is no good.

Mother: Ah, indeed you were always a tip-top
scholar. I didn't ever know how good you were
till I had my memory lost.

Conan: Indeed, it is a strange thing any wits
at all to be found in this family.

Mother: Ah, sure we are as is allotted to us at
the time God made the world.

Conan: Now I to make the world—

Mother: You are not saying you would make a
better hand of it?

Conan: I am certain sure I could.

Mother: Ah, don't be talking that way!

Conan: I'd make changes you'd wonder at.

Celia: It's likely you'd make the world in one
day in place of six.

Mother: It's best make changes little by little
the same as you'd put clothes upon a growing
child, and to knock every day out of what God
will give you, and to live as long as we can, and
die when we can't help it.

Conan: And the first thing I'd do would be to
give you back your memory and your sense. (Sings.)
(Air, "The Bells of Shandon.")

"My brain grows rusty, my mind is dusty,
The time I'm dwelling with the likes of ye,
While my spirit ranges through all the changes
Could turn the world to felicity!
When Aristotle..."

Mother: It is like a dream to me I heard that
name. Aristotle of the books.

Conan: (Eagerly.) What did you hear about him?

Mother: I don't know was it about him or was
it some other one. My memory to be as good as
it is bad I might maybe bring it to mind.

Conan: Hurry on now and remember!

Mother: Ah, it's hard remember anything and
the weather so uncertain as what it is.

Conan: Is it of late you heard it?

Mother: It was maybe ere yesterday or some
day of the sort; I don't know. Since the age
tampered with me the thing I'd hear to-day I
wouldn't think of to-morrow.

Conan: Try now and tell me was it that
Aristotle, the time he walked Ireland, had come to
this place.

Mother: It might be that, unless it might be
some other thing.

Conan: And that he left some great treasure
hid—it might be in the rath without.

Mother: And what good would it do you a pot of
gold to be hid in the rath where you would never
come near to it, it being guarded by enchanted
cats and they having fiery eyes?

Conan: Did I say anything about a pot of
gold? This was better again than gold. This
was an enchantment would raise you up if you
were gasping from death. Give attention now ...

Mother: It's Harry he used to be called.

Conan: Listen now. (Sings.) (Air, "Bells of

"Once Aristotle hid in a bottle
Or some other vessel of security
A spell had power bring sweet from sour
Or bring blossoms blooming on the blasted tree."

Mother: (Repeating last line.) "Or bring blossoms
blooming on the blasted tree."

Conan: Is that now what you heard ...that
Aristotle has hid some secret spell?

Mother: I won't say what I don't know. My
memory is too weak for me to be telling lies.

Conan: You could strengthen it if you took it
in hand, putting a knot in the corner of your shawl
to keep such and such a thing in mind.

Mother: If I did I should put another knot in
the other corner to remember what was the first
one for.

Conan: You'd remember it well enough if it
was a pound of tea!

Mother: Ah, maybe it's best be as I am and not
to be running carrying lies here and there, putting
trouble on people's mind.

Conan: Isn't it terrible to be seeing all this
folly around me and not to have a way to
better it!

Mother: Ah, dear, it's best leave the time under
the mercy of the Man that is over us all.

Conan: (Jumping up furious.) Where's the
use of old people being in the world at all if they
cannot keep a memory of things gone by! (Sings.)
(Air, "O the time I've lost in wooing.")

"O the time I've lost pursuing
And feeling nothing doing,
The lure that led me from my bed
Has left me sad and rueing!
Success seemed very near me!
High hope was there to cheer me!
I asked my book where would I look
And all it did was fleer me!"

Mother: What is it ails you?

Conan: That secret to be in the world, and I
all to have laid my hand on it, and it to have gone
astray on me!

Mother: So it would go too.

Conan: A secret that could change the world!
I'd make it as good a world to live in as it was in
the time of the Greeks. I don't see much goodness
in the trace of the people in it now. To
change everything to its contrary the way the
book said it would! There would be great satisfaction
doing that. Was there ever in the world
a family was so little use to a man? (Sings in
.) (Air, "My Molly O.")

"There is a rose in Ireland, I thought it would be mine
But now that it is hid from me I must forever pine.
Till death shall come and comfort me for to the grave I'll go
And all for the sake of Aristotle's secret O!"

Celia: I wonder you wouldn't ask Timothy
that is older again than what my mother is.

Conan: Timothy! He has the hearing lost.

Celia: Well there is no harm to try him.

Conan: (Going to door.) Timothy!... There,
he's as deaf as a beetle.

Mother: It might be best for him. The thing
the ear will not hear will not put trouble on the

Celia: (Who has gone out comes pushing him in.)
Here he is now for you.

Conan: Did ever you hear of Aristotle?

Timothy: Aye?

Conan: Aristotle!

Timothy: Ere a bottle? I might ...

Conan: Aristotle.... That had some power?

Timothy: I never seen no flower.

Conan: Something he hid near this place.

Timothy: I never went near no race.

Conan: Has the whole world its mind made up
to annoy me!

Celia: Raise your voice into his ear.

Conan: (Chanting.)

"Aristotle in the hour
He left Ireland left a power
In a gift Eolus gave
Could all Ireland change and save!"

Timothy: Would it now?

Conan: You said you had heard of a bottle.

Timothy: A charmed bottle. It is Biddy Early
put a cure in it and bestowed it in her will to her son.

Conan: Aristotle that left one in the same way.

Timothy: It is what I am thinking that my old
generations used to be talking about a bellows.

Conan: A bellows! There's no sense in that!

Timothy: Have it your own way so, and give
me leave to go feeding the little chickens and the
hens, for if I cannot hear what they say and they
cannot understand what I say, they put no reproach
on me after, no more than I would put
it on themselves. (Goes.)

Celia: Let you be satisfied now and not torment
yourself, for if you got the world wide you
couldn't discover it. You might as well think to
throw your hat to hit the stars.

Conan: You have me tormented among the
whole of ye. To be without ye would be no harm
at all. (Sits down and weeps.) Of all the families
anyone would wish to live away from I am full
sure my family is the worst.

Mother: Ah, dear, you're worn out and contrary
with the want of sleep. Come now into the
room and stretch yourself on the bed. To go
sleeping out in the grass has no right rest in it at
all! (Takes his arm.)

Conan: Where's the use of lying on my bed
where it is convenient to the yard, that I'd be
afflicted by the turkeys yelping and the pullets
praising themselves after laying an egg! and the
cackling and hissing of the geese.

Mother: Lie down so on the settle, and I'll let
no one disturb you. You're destroyed, avic, with
the want of sleep.

Conan: There'll be no peace in this kitchen no
more than on the common highway with the
people running in and out.

Mother: I'll go sit in the little gap without, and
the whole place will be as quiet as St. Colman's
wilderness of stones.

Conan: The boards are too hard.

Mother: I'll put a pillow in under you.

Conan: Now it's too narrow. Leave me now
it'll be best.

Mother: Sleep and good dreams to you. (Goes
singing sleepy song

Conan: The most troublesome family ever I
knew in all my born days! Why is that people
cannot have behaviour now the same as in ancient
Greece. (Sits up.) I'll not give them the satisfaction
of going asleep. I'll drink a sup of the
tea that is black with standing and with strength.
(Drinks and lies down.) I'll engage that'll keep
me waking. (Music heard.) Is it to annoy me
they are playing tunes of music? I'll let on to be
asleep! (Shuts eyes.)

(Two large Cats with fiery eyes look over top
of settle

1st Cat:
See the fool that crossed our path
Rummaging within the rath.

Coveting a spell is bound
Agelong in our haunted ground.

Hid that none disturb its peace
By a Druid out from Greece.

Spies and robbers have no call
Rooting in our ancient wall.

Man or mortal what is he
Matched against the mighty Sidhe?

2nd Cat:
Bid our riders of the night
Daze and craze him with affright,

Leave him fainting and forlorn
Hanging on the moon's young horn.

Let the death-bands turn him pale
Through the venom of our tail.

Let him learn to love our law
With the sharpness of our claw.

Let our King-cat's fiery flash
Turn him to a heap of ash.

1st Cat:
Punishment enough he'll find
In his cross and cranky mind.

Ha, ha, ha, and ho, ho, ho,
He'd a sharper penance know,

We'd have better sport to-day
If he got his will and way,

Found the spell that lies unknown
Underneath his own hearthstone.

(They disappear saying together:)

Men and mortals what are ye
Matched against the mighty Sidhe?

Conan: (Looking out timidly.) Are they gone?
Here, Puss, puss! Come hither now poor Puss!
They're not in it.... Here now! here's milk
for ye. And a drop of cream.... (Gets up,
peeps under settle and around
.) They are gone!
And that they may never come back! I wouldn't
wish to be brought riding a thorny bush in the night
time into the cold that is behind the sun! What
now did they say? Or is it dreaming I was? Oh,
it was not! They spoke clear and plain. The
hidden spell that I was seeking, they said it to be
in the hiding hole under the hearth. (Pokes,
.) Bad cess to Celia leaving that much
ashes to be choking me. Well, the luck has come
to me at last!

(Sings as he searches.)

"Proudly the note of the trumpet is sounding,
Loudly the war cries rise on the gale;
Fleetly the steed by Lough Swilly is bounding
To join the thick squadrons in Saimear's green vale.
On every mountaineer, strangers to flight and fear;
Rush to the standard of dauntless Red Hugh
Bonnaught and gallowglass, throng from each mountain pass.
On for old Erin, O'Donnall Abu."

(Pokes at hearthstone.) Sure enough, it's
loose! It's moving! Wait till I'll get
a wedge under it!

(Takes fork from table.) It's coming!

(Door suddenly opens and he drops fork and
springs back

Mother: (Coming in with Rock and Flannery.)
Here now, come in the two of ye. Here now, Conan,
is two of the neighbours, James Rock of Lis Crohan
and Fardy Flannery the rambling herd, that are
come to get a light for the pipe and they walking
the road from the Fair.

Conan: That's the way you make a fool of me
promising me peace and quiet for to sleep!

Mother: Ah, so I believe I did. But it slipped
away from me, and I listening to the blackbird on
the bush.

Conan: (To Rock.) I wonder, James Rock,
that you wouldn't have on you so much as a halfpenny
box of matches!

Rock: (Trying to get to hearth.) So I have
matches. But why would I spend one when I can
get for nothing a light from a sod?

Flannery: Sure, I could give you a match I
have this long time, waiting till I'll get as much
tobacco as will fill a pipe.

Mother: It's the poor man does be generous.
It's gone from my mind, Fardy, what was it
brought you to be a servant of poverty?

Flannery: Since the day I lost on the road my
forty pound that I had to stock my little farm of
land, all has wore away from me and left me bare
owning nothing unless daylight and the run of
water. It was that put me on the Shaughrann.

(Sings "The Bard of Armagh.")

"Oh, list to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strains of his old withered hand,
But remember the fingers could once move sharper
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land;
It was long before the shamrock our dear isle's loved emblem.
Was crushed in its beauty 'neath the Saxon Lion's paw
I was called by the colleens of the village and valley
Bold Phelim Brady, the bard of Armagh."

Rock: Bad management! Look what I brought
from the Fair through minding my own property
—£20 for a milch cow, and thirty for a score of

Mother: £20 for a cow! Isn't that terrible

Conan: Let you whist now! You are putting
a headache on me with all your little newses and
country chat!

(Mother goes, the others are following.)

Rock: (Turning from door.) It might be better
for yourself, Conan Creevey, if you had minded
business would bring profit to your hand in place
of your foreign learning, that never put a penny
piece in anyone's pocket that ever I heard. No
earthly profit unless to addle the brain and leave
the pocket empty.

Conan: You think yourself a great sort! Let
me tell you that my learning has power to do more
than that!

Rock: It's an empty mouth that has big talk.

Conan: What would you say hearing I had
power put in my hand that could change the entire
world? And that's what you never will have power
to do.

Rock: What power is that?

Aristotle in the hour
He left Ireland left a power....

Rock: Foolishness! I never would believe in
poetry or in dreams or images, but in ready money
down. (Jingles bag.)

Conan: I tell you you'll see me getting the
victory over all Ireland!

Rock: You have but a cracked headpiece thinking
that will come to you.

Conan: I tell you it will! No end at all in the
world to what I am about to bring in!

Rock: It's easy praise yourself!

Conan: And so I am praising myself, and so will
you all be praising me when you will see all that
I will do!

Rock: It is what I think you got demented in
the head and in the mind.

Conan: It is soon the wheel will be turned and
the whole of the nation will be changed for the
best. (Sings.)

"Dear Harp of my country, in darkness I found thee,
The cold chain of silence had hung o'er thee long,
When proudly, my own Irish Harp, I unbound thee,
And gave all thy chords to light, freedom and song,
The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness
Have waken'd thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill;
But so oft hast thou echo'd the deep sigh of sadness,
That ev'n in thy mirth it will steal from thee still."

Flannery: That's a great thought, if it is but a
vanity or a dream.

Rock: (Sneeringly.) Well now and what would
you do?

Flannery: I would wish a great lake of milk,
the same as blessed St. Bridget, to be sharing with
the family of Heaven. I would wish vessels full
of alms that would save every sorrowful man. Do
that now, Conan, and you'll have the world of
prayers down on you!

Rock: It's what I'd do, to turn the whole of
Galway Bay to dry land, and I to have it for myself,
the red land, the green land, the fallow and the
lea! The want of land is a great stoppage to a man
having means to lay out in stock.

(Sings.) (Air, "I wish I had the shepherd's lamb.")

"I wish I had both mill and kiln,
I wish I had of land my fill;
I wish I had both mill and kiln,
And all would follow after!"

Flannery: Ah, the land, the land, the rotten
land, and what will you have in the end but the
breadth of your back of it? Let you now soften
the heart in that one (points to Rock) till he would
restore to me the thing he is aware of.

Conan: It was not for that the spell was
promised, to be changing a few neighbours or a
thing of the kind, or to be doing wonders in this
broken little place. A town of dead factions! To
change any of the dwellers in this place would be
to make it better, for it would be impossible to
make it worse. The time you wouldn't be meddling
with them you wouldn't know them to be
bad, but the time you'd have to do business with
them that's the time you'd know it!

Rock: I suppose it is what you are asking to
do, to make yourself rich?

Conan: I do not! I would be loth take any
profit, and Aristotle after laying down that to
pleasure or to profit every wealthy man is a slave!

Flannery: What would you do, so?

Conan: I will change all into the similitude of
ancient Greece! There is no man at all can understand
argument but it is from Greece he is. I know
well what I'm doing. I'm not like a potato having
eyes this way and that. People were harmless
long ago and why wouldn't they be made harmless
again? Aristotle said, "Fair play is more
beautiful than the morning and the evening star!"

"Be friendly with one another," he said, "and
let the lawyers starve!" I'll turn the captains of
soldiers to be as peaceable as children picking
strawberries in the grass. I've a mind to change
the tongue of the people to the language of the
Greeks, that no farmer will be grumbling over a
halfpenny Independent, but be following the plough
in full content, giving out Homer and the praises
of the ancient world!

Flannery: If you make the farmers content you
will make the world content.

Rock: You will, when you'll bring the sun from
Greece to ripen our little lock of oats!

Conan: So I will drag Ireland from its moorings
till I'll bring it to the middling sea that has no ebb
or flood!

Rock: You will do well to put a change on the
college that harboured you, and that left you so
much of folly.

Conan: I'll do that! I'll be in College Green
before the dawn is white—no but before the night
is grey! It is to Dublin I will bring my spell, for
I ever and always heard it said what Dublin will
do to-day Ireland will do to-morrow! (Sings.)

"Let Erin remember the days of old
Ere her faithless sons betrayed her—
When Malachy wore the collar of gold
Which he won from her proud invader—
When her kings with standards of green unfurl'd,
Led the Red-Branch knights to danger;
Ere the emerald gem of the western world
Was set in the crown of a stranger."

Rock: And maybe you'll tell us now by what
means you will do all this?

Conan: Go out of the house and I will tell you
in the by and bye.

Rock: That is what I was thinking. You are
talking nothing but lies.

Conan: I tell you that power is not far from
where you stand! But I will let no one see it only

Flannery: There might be some truth in it.
There are some say enchantments never went out
of Ireland.

Conan: It is a spell, I say, that will change
anything to its contrary. To turn it upon a snail,
there is hardly a greyhound but it would overtake;
but a hare it would turn to be the slowest thing in
the universe; too slow to go to a funeral.

Rock: I'll believe it when I'll see it.

Conan: You could see it if I let you look in
this hiding-hole.

Rock: Good-morrow to you!

Conan: Then you will see it, for I'll raise up
the stone. (Kneels.)

Rock: It to be anything it is likely a pot of

Flannery: It might be the harp of Angus.

Rock: I see no trace of it.

Conan: There is something hard! It should
likely be a silver trumpet or a hunting-horn of gold!

Rock: Give me a hold of it.

Conan: Leave go! (Lifts out bellows.)

Rock: Ha! Ha! Ha! after all your chat, nothing
but a little old bellows!...

Conan: There is seven rings on it.... They
should signify the seven blasts....

Rock: If there was seventy times seven what
use would it be but to redden the coals?

Conan: Every one of these blasts has power to
make some change.

Rock: Make one so, and I'll plough the world
for you.

Conan: Is it that I would spend one of my
seven blasts convincing the like of ye?

Rock: It is likely the case there is no power in
it at all.

Conan: I'm very sure there is surely. The world
will be a new world before to-morrow's Angelus bell.

Flannery: I never could believe in a bellows.

Rock: Here now is a fair offer. I'll loan you
this bag of notes to pay your charges to Dublin if
you will change that little pigeon in the crib into a

Conan: I will do no such folly.

Rock: You wouldn't because you'd be afeared
to try.

Conan: Hold it up to me. I'll show you am
I afeared!

Rock: There it is now. (Holds up cage.)

Conan: Have a care! (Blows.)

Rock: (Dropping it with a shriek.) It has me
bit with its hard beak, it is turned to be an old
black crow.

Flannery: As black as the bottom of the pot.

Crow: Caw! Caw! Caw!

(Cats reappear and look over back of settle.)

(Music from behind.) ("O'Donnall Abu.")




Conan alone holding up bellows, singing:

"And doth not a meeting like this make amends
For all the long years I've been wandering away
Deceived for a moment it's now in my hands—
breathe the fresh air of life's morning again!"

Celia: (Comes in having listened amused at
door; claps hands
.) Very good! It is you yourself
should be going to the dance house to-night in
place of myself. It is long since I heard you rise
so happy a tune!

Conan: (Putting bellows behind him.) What
brings you here? Is there no work for you out in
the garden—the cabbages to be cutting for the

Celia: I wouldn't wish to roughen my hands
before evening. Music there will be for the dancing!

(She lilts Miss McLeod's Reel.)

Conan: Let you go ready yourself for it so.

Celia: Is it at this time of the day? You
should be forgetting the hours of the clock the
same as the poor mother.

Conan: It is a strange thing since I came to
this house I never can get one minute's ease and
quiet to myself.

Celia: It was hearing you singing brought me in.

Conan: I'd sooner have you without! Be
going now.

Celia: I will and welcome. It is to bring out
my little pigeon I will, where there is a few grains
of barley fell from a car going the road.

Conan: Hurry on so!

Celia: (Taking up cage.) He is not in his crib.
(Looking here and there.) Where now can he
have gone?

Conan: He should have gone out the door.

Celia: He did not. He could not have come
out unknown to me. Coo, coo,—coo—coo.

Conan: Never mind him now. You are putting
my mind astray with your Coo, coo—

Celia: He might be in under the settle.
(Stoops.) Where are you, my little bird. (Sings.)
(Air, "Shule Aroon

"But now my love has gone to France
His own fair fortune to advance;
If he comes back again 'tis but a chance;
Os go dé tu Mavourneen slân!"

Conan: (Putting her away.) What way would
he be in it? Let you put a stop to that humming.
(Seizes her.) Come here to the light it
you sewed this button on my coat?

Celia: It was not. It is likely it was some
tailor down in the North.

Conan: It is getting loose on the sleeve.

Celia: Ah, it will last a good while yet. Coo, coo!

Conan: (Getting before her.) It would be no
great load on you to get a needle and put a stitch
would tighten it.

Celia: I'll do it in the by and bye. There, I
twisted the thread around it. That'll hold good
enough for a while.

Conan: "Anything worth doing at all is worth
doing well."

Celia: Aren't you getting very dainty in your

Conan: Any man would like to have a decent
appearance on his suit.

Celia: Isn't it the same to-day as it was

Conan: Have you ne'er a needle?

Celia: I don't know where is it gone.

Conan: You haven't a stim of sense. Can't
you keep in mind "Everything in its right place."

Celia: Sure, there's no hurry—the day is long.

Conan: Anything has to be done, the quickest
to do it is the best.

Celia: I'm not working by the hour or the day.

Conan: Look now at Penelope of the Greeks,
and all her riches, and her man not at hand to urge
her, how well she sat at the loom from morn till
night till she'd have the makings of a suit of frieze.

Celia: Ah, that was in the ancient days, when
you wouldn't buy it made and ready in the shops.

Conan: Will you so much as go to find a towel
would take the dust off of the panes of glass?

Celia: I wonder at you craving to disturb the
spider and it after making its web.

Conan: Well, go sit idle outside. I wouldn't
wish to be looking at you! Aristotle that said a
lazy body is all one with a lazy mind. You'll be
begging your bread through the world's streets
before your poll will be grey.


"You'll dye your petticoat, you'll dye it red,
And through the world you'll beg your bread;
And you not hearkening to e'er a word I said,
It's then you'll know it to be true!"

Celia: (Sings.)

"Come here my little birdeen! Coo!"

Conan: (Putting his hand on her mouth.) Be
going out now in place of calling that bird that is
as lazy and as useless as yourself.

Celia: My little dove! Where are you at all!

Conan: A cat to have ate it would be no great

Celia: Did you yourself do away with him?

Conan: I did not.

Celia: (Wildly breaking free throws herself down.)
There is no place for him to be only in under
the settle!

Conan: (Dragging at her.) It is not there.

Celia: (Who has put in her hand.) O what is
that? It has hurt me!

Conan: A nail sticking up out of the floor.

Celia: (Jumping up with a cry.) It's a crow!
A great big wicked black crow!

Conan: If it is let you leave it there.

Celia: (Weeping.) I'm certain sure it has my
pigeon killed and ate!

Conan: To be so doleful after a pigeon! You
haven't a stim of sense!

Celia: It was you gave it leave to do that!

Conan: Stop your whimpering and blubbering!
What way can I settle the world and I being
harassed and hampered with such a contrary class!
I give you my word I have a mind to change
myself into a ravenous beast will kill and devour ye
all! That much would be no sin when it would be
according to my nature. (Sings or chants.)

"On Clontarf he like a lion fell,
Thousands plunged in their own gore;
I to be such a lion now
I'd ask for nothing more!"

Celia: (Sitting down miserable.) You are a very
wicked man!

Conan: Get up out of that or I'll make you!

Celia: I will not! I'm certain you did this
cruel thing!

Conan: (Taking up bellows.) I'd hardly begrudge
one of my six blasts to be quit of your slowness
and your sluggish ways! Rise up now before
I'll make you that you'll want shoes that will never
wear out, you being ever on the trot and on the
run from morning to the fall of night! Start up
now! I'm on the bounds of doing it!

Celia: What are you raving about?

Conan: To get quit of you I cannot, but to
change your nature I might! I give you warning, two, three!

(Blows.) (Sings: "With a chirrup.") (Air,

"Let you rise and go light like a bird of the air
That goes high in its flight ever seeking its share;
Let you never go easy or pine for a rest
Till you'll be a world's wonder and work with the best!

With a chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup,
A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup,
A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup,
A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup!"

Celia: (Staring and standing up.) What is
that? Is it the wind or is it a wisp of flame that
is going athrough my bones!

(Rock and Flannery come in.)

(Celia rushes out.)

Rock: (Out of breath.) We went looking for a
car to bring you to the train!

Flannery: There was not one to be found.

Rock: But those that are too costly!

Flannery: Till we went to the Doctor of the

Rock: For to ask a lift for you on the ambulance....

Flannery: But when he heard what we had to

Rock: He said he would bring you and glad
to do it on his own car, and no need to hansel

Flannery: And welcome, if it was as far as the

Rock: All he is sorry for he hasn't a horse that
would rise you up through the sky—

Conan: Let him give me the lift so—it will be
a help to me. It wasn't only with his own hand
Alexander won the world!

Flannery: Unless you might give him, he was
saying, a blast of the bellows, that would change
his dispensary into a racing stable, and all that
come to be cured into jockeys and into grooms!

Conan: What chatterers ye are! I gave ye no
leave to speak of that.

Rock: Ah, it costs nothing to be giving out

Flannery: The world and all will be coming to
the door to throw up their hats for you, and you
making your start, cars and ass cars, jennets and
traps. (Sings.)

"O Bay of Dublin, how my heart your troublin',
Your beauty haunts me like a fever dream;
Like frozen fountains that the sun set bubblin'
My heart's blood warms when I but hear your name!"

Conan: It's my death I'll come to in Dublin.
That news to get there ahead of me I'll be pressed
in the throng as thin as a griddle.

Flannery: So you might be, too. All I have
that might protect you I offer free, and that's this
good umbrella that was given to me in a rainstorm
by a priest. (Holds it out.)

Rock: And what do you say to me giving you
the loan of your charges for the road?

Conan: Come in here, Maryanne! and give a
glass to these honest men till they'll wish me good
luck upon my journey, as it's much I'll need it,
with the weight of all I have to do.

Mother: (Coming in.) So I will, so I will and
welcome ...but that I disremember where did
I put the key of the chest.

Conan: I'll engage you do! There it is before
you in the lock since ere yesterday. (Mother puts
bottle and glasses on table.)

Flannery: (Lifting glass.) That you may bring
great good to Ireland and to the world!

Rock: Here's your good health!

Conan: I'm obliged to you!

Rock and Flannery: (Sing.) (Air, "The Cruiskeen

"Gramachree ma cruiskeen Slainte geal mavourneen,
Gramachree a cool-in bawn, bawn, bawn, bân-bán-bán,
Oh, Gra-ma-chree a cool-in bawn."

(They nod as they finish and take out their
pipes and sit down. A banging is heard.)

Conan: What disturbance is that?

(Celia comes in, her hair screwed up tight,
skirt tucked up, is carrying a pail,
brush, cloth, etc., lets them drop and
proceeds to fasten up skirt.)

Mother: Ah, Celia, what is on you? I never
saw you that way before.

Conan: Ha! Very good! I think that you will
say there is a great change come upon her, and a
right change.

Celia: Look now at the floor the way it is.

Mother: I see no other way but the way it is

Celia: There's a bit of soot after falling down
the chimney. (Picks up tongs.)

Mother: Ah, leave it now, dear, a while.

Celia: Anything has to be done, the quickest
way to do it is the best. (Having taken up soot,
flings down tongs.)

Conan: Listen to that! Now am I able to
work wonders?

Rock: It is that you have spent on her a blast?

Conan: If I did it was well spent.

Flannery: I'm in dread you have been robbing
the poor.

Rock: It is myself you have robbed doing that.
You have no call to be using those blasts for your
own profit!

Conan: I have every right to bring order in
my own dwelling before I can do any other thing!

Celia: All the dust of the world's roads is
gathered in this kitchen. The whole place ate
with filth and dirt.

(Begins to sweep.)

Conan: Ah, you needn't hardly go as far as that.

Celia: Anything that is worth doing is worth
doing well. (To Rock.) Look now at the marks
of your boots upon the ground. Get up out of
that till I'll bustle it with the broom!

Rock: (Getting up.) There is a change indeed
and a queer change. Where she used to be singing
she is screeching the same as a slate where you'd
be casting sums!

Celia: (To Flannery.) What's that I see in
under your chair? Rise up. (He gets up.) It's
a pin! (Sticks it in her dress.) Everything in its
right place! (Goes on flicking at the furniture.)

Mother: Leave now knocking the furniture to

Celia: I will not, till I'll free it from the dust
and dander of the year.

Mother: That'll do now. I see no dust.

Celia: You'll see it presently. (Sweeps up a cloud.)

Mother: Let you speak to her, Conan.

Conan: Leave now buzzing and banging about
the room the same as a fly without a head!

Celia: Never put off till to-morrow what you
can do to-day.

Conan: I tell you I have things to settle and
to say before the car will come that is to bring me
on my road to Dublin.

Celia: (Stopping short.) Is it that you are going
to Dublin?

Conan: I am, and within the hour.

Celia: Pull off those boots from your feet!

Conan: I will not! Let you leave my boots

Celia: You are not going out of the house with
that slovenly appearance on you! To have it said
out in Dublin that you are a class of man never has
clean boots but of a Sunday!

Conan: They'll do well enough without you

Celia: Clean them yourself so! (Gives him a
rag and blacking and goes on dusting.)

(Sings.) (Air, "City of Sligo.")

"We may tramp the earth
For all that we're worth,
But what odds where you and I go,
We never shall meet
A spot so sweet
As the beautiful city of Sligo."

Conan: What ailed me that I didn't leave her
as she was before.

Celia: (Stopping work.) What way are they now?

Conan: (Having cleaned his boots, putting them
on hurriedly.)
They're very good. (Wipes his brow,
drawing hand across leaving mark of blacking.)

Celia: The time I told you to put black on
your shoes I didn't bid you rub it upon your brow!

Conan: I didn't put it in any wrong place.

Celia: I ask the whole of you, is it black his face
is or white?

All: It is black indeed.

Celia: Would you put a reproach on the whole
of the barony, going up among big citizens with a
face on you the like of that?

Conan: I'll do well enough. There will be
the black of the smoke from the engine on it any
way, and I after journeying in the train.

Celia: You will not go be a disgrace to me.

Conan: If it is black it is yourself forced me to it.

Celia: If I did I'll make up for it, putting a
clean face upon you now. (Dips towel in pail and
sings "With a fillip"—air, "Garryowen"—as she
washes him.)

"Bring to mind how the thrush gathers twigs for his nest
And the honey bee toils without ever a rest
And the fishes swim ever to keep themselves clean,
And you'll praise me for making you fit to be seen!
With a fillip, a fillip, a fillip.
A fillip, a fillip, a fillip.
A fillip, a fillip, a fillip, a fillip,
A fillip, a fillip, a fillip, a fillip!"

Conan: Let me go, will you! Let you stop!
The soap that is going into my eye!

Celia: My grief you are! Let you be willing
to suffer, so long as you will be tasty and decent
and be a credit to ourselves.

Conan: The suds are in my mouth!

Celia: One minute now and you'll be as clean
as a bishop!

Conan: Let me go, can't you!

Celia: Only one thing wanting now.

Conan: I'm good enough, I tell you!

Celia: To cut the wisp from the back of your

Conan: You will not cut it!

Celia: And you'll go into the grandeurs of
Dublin and you being as neat as an egg.

Conan: (With a roar.) Leave meddling with
my hair. I that can change the world with one
turn of my hand!

Celia: Wait till I'll find the scissors! That's
not the way to be going showing off in the town,
if you were all the saints and Druids of the universe!

Conan: (Breaking free and rushing out.) My
seven thousand curses on the minute when I didn't
leave you as you were. (Goes.)

Celia: (Looking at Mother.) There's meal on
your dress from the cake you're after putting in
the oven—where now did that bellows fall from?
(Taking up bellows.) It comes as handy as a
gimlet. There (blows the meal off), that now will
make a big difference in you.

Rock: (Seizing bellows.) Leave now that down
out of your hand. Let you go looking for a

(Celia goes off singing "The Beautiful City
of Sligo.")

Mother: (Sitting down.) I'm thinking it's seven
years to-day, James Rock, since you took a lend
of my clock.

Rock: You're raving! What call would I have
to ask a lend of your clock?

Mother: The way you would rise in time for
the fair of Feakle in the morning.

Rock: Did I now?

Mother: You did, and that's my truth. I was
standing here, and you were standing there, and
Celia that was but ten years was sucking the sugar
off a spoon I was after putting in a bag that had
come from the shop, for to put a grain into my

Rock: (Sneering.) Well now, didn't your memory
get very sharp!

Mother: You thought I had it forgot, but I
remember it as clear as pictures. The time it stood
at was seven minutes after four o'clock, and I
never saw it from that day till now. This very
day of the month it was, the year of the black
sheep having twins.

Rock: It was but an old clock anyway.

Mother: If it was it is seven years older since
I laid an eye on it. And it's kind father for you
robbing me, where it's often you robbed your own
mother, and you stealing away to go cardplaying
the half crowns she had hid in the churn.

Rock: Didn't you get very wicked and hurtful,
you that was a nice class of a woman without no

Flannery: Ah, Ma'am, you that was easy-minded,
it is not kind for you to be a scold.

Mother: And another thing, it was the same
day where Michael Flannery (turns to him) came in
an' told me of you being grown so covetous you
had made away with your dog, by reason you
begrudged it its diet.

Rock: (To Flannery.) You had a great deal to
say about me!

Mother: And more than that again, he said
you had it buried secretly, and had it personated,
creeping around the haggard in the half dark
and you barking, the way the neighbours would
think it to be living yet and as wicked as it was

Rock: (To Flannery.) I'll bring you into the
Courts for telling lies!

Mother: (Coming near Rock and speaking into
his ear.)
And there's another thing I know, and
that I made a promise to her that was your wife
not to tell, but death has that promise broke.

Rock: Stop, can't you!

Mother: I know by sure witness that it was
you found the forty pound he (points to Flannery,
who nods)
lost on the road, and kept it for your
own profit. Bring me now, I dare you, into the

Rock: (Fearfully.) That one would remember
the world! It is as if she went to the grinding

(Conan's voice heard. Singing: "Let me be
merry" in a melancholy voice.)

"If sadly thinking with spirits sinking
Could more than drinking my cares compose,
A cure for to-morrow from sighs I'd borrow,
And hope to-morrow would end my woes.

But as in wailing there's nought availing,
And Death unfailing will strike the blow,
Then for that reason and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go!"

Mother: It is Conan will near lose his wits
with joy when he knows what is come back to me!

Conan: (Peeping in.) Is Celia gone?

Flannery: She is, Conan.

Conan: It's a queer thing with women. If
you'll turn them from one road it's likely they'll
go into another that is worse again.

Rock: That is so indeed. There is Celia's
mother that is running telling lies, and leaving a
heavy word upon a neighbour.

Mother: I'll give my promise not to tell it out
in Court if he will give to poor Michael Flannery
what is due to him, and that is the whole of what
he has in his bag!

Conan: (Laughing scornfully.) Sure she has no
memory at all. It fails her to remember that two
and two makes four.

Mother: You think that? Well, listen now to
me. Two and two is it? No, nine times two that
is eighteen and nine times three twenty-seven,
nine times four thirty-six, nine times five forty-fi
ve, nine times six fifty-four, nine times seven
sixty-three, nine times eight seventy-two, nine
times nine eighty-one.... Yes, and eleven times,
and any times that you will put before me!

Conan: That's enough, that's enough!

Mother: Ha, ha! You giving out that I can
keep no knowledge in mind and no learning, when
I should sit on the chapel roof to have enough of
slates for all I can cast up of sums! Multiplication,
Addition, subtraction, and the rule of three!

Conan: Whist your tongue!

Mother: Is it the verses of Raftery's talk into
the Bush you would wish me to give out, or the
three hundred and sixty-nine verses of the Contention
of the Bards—(Repeats verse of "The Talk
with the Bush" in Irish.)

"Céad agus míle roiámh am na h-Airce
Tús agus crothugadh m'aois agus mo dhata
Thá me o shoin im' shuidhe san áit so
Agus is iomdha sgéal a bhféadain trácht air."

Or I'll English it if that will please you:

"A hundred years and a thousand before the time of the Ark
Was the beginning and creation of my age and my date;
I am from that time sitting in this place,
And it's many a story I am able to give news of."

Conan: (Putting hands to ears and walking
I am thinking your mind got unsettled
with the weight of years.

Mother: (Following him.) No, but your own
that got scattered from the time you ran barefoot
carrying worms in a tin can for that Professor of a
Collegian that went fishing in the stream, and that
you followed after till you got to think yourself a
lamp of light for the universe!

Conan: Will you stop deafening the whole world
with your babble!

Mother: There was always a bad drop in you
that attached to you out of the grandfather. What
did your languages do for you but to sharpen
your tongue, till the scrape of it would take the
skin off, the same as a cat! My blessing on you,
Conan, but my curse upon your mouth!

Conan: Oh, will you stop your chat!

Mother: Every word you speak having in it
the sting of a bee that was made out of the curses
of a saint!

Conan: Stop your gibberish!

Mother: Are you satisfied now?

Conan: I'm not satisfied!

Mother: And never will be, for you were ever
and always a fault-finder and full of crossness
from the day that you were small suited.

Conan: You remember that, too?

Mother: I do well!

Conan: Where is the bellows? Was it you
(to Flannery) that blew a blast on her?

Flannery: It was not.

Conan: Or you?

Rock: It's long sorry I'd be to do such a thing!

Conan: It is certain someone did it on her.
Where now is it?

Mother: (Seizing him.) And I remember the
day you threw out your mug of milk into the street,
by reason, says you, you didn't like the colour of
the cow that gave it!

Conan: Will you stop ripping up little annoyances,
till I'll find the bellows!

Rock: It's what I'm thinking, her memory will
soon be back at the far side of Solomon's

Mother: (Repeats in Irish.) Agus is iomdha
sgéal a bhféadain traácht air!

Conan: (Shouting.) Is it that you'll drive the
seven senses out of me!

Mother: Is it that you begrudge me my recollection?
Ha! I have it in spite of you. (Sings.)

"Oft in the stilly night
Ere slumber's chain hath bound me
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
The smiles, the tears, of childhood's years,
The words of love then spoken—
The eyes that shone, now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken.

"Thus in the stilly night—ere slumber's chain hath bound me
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me!"

Celia: (Bursting in.) Where is Conan?

Conan: What do you want of me?

Celia: I have got the hair brush.

Conan: Let you not come near me!

Celia: And the comb!

Conan: Get away from me!

Celia: And the scissors.

Conan: Will you drive me out of the house or
will I drive you out of it!

Celia: Ah, be easy!

Conan: I will not be easy!

Celia: (Pushing him back in a chair.) It will
delight the world to see the way I'll send you out!

Conan: Is the universe gone distracted mad!

Celia: Be quiet now!

Conan: Leave your hold of me!

Celia: One stir, and the scissors will run into

(Sings "With a snippet, a snippet, a snippet.")




The two Cats are looking over the settle.

Music behind scene: "O Johnny, I hardly knew

1st Cat: We did well leaving the bellows for
that foolish Human to see what he can do. There
is great sport before us and behind.

2nd Cat: The best I ever saw since the Jesters
went out from Tara.

1st Cat: They to be giving themselves high
notions and to be looking down on Cats!

2nd Cat: Ha, Ha, Ha, the folly and the craziness
of men! To see him changing them from one
thing to the next, as if they wouldn't be a two-legged
laughing stock whatever way they would

1st Cat: There's apt to be more changes yet
till they will hardly know one another, or every
other one, to be himself! (Sings.)

"Where are your eyes that looked so mild,
Hurroo! Hurroo!
Where are your eyes that looked so mild
When my poor heart you first beguiled,
Why did you run from me and the child?
O Johnny, I hardly knew you!

"With drums and guns and guns and drums,
The enemy nearly slew you!
My darling dear you look so queer,
O Johnny, I hardly knew you!

"Where are the legs with which you run,
When you went to carry a gun.
Indeed your dancing days are done,
O Johnny, I hardly knew you!"

(Timothy and Mother come in from opposite
doors. Cats disappear—music still heard

Mother: (Looking at little bellows in her hand.)
Do you know That what it is, Timothy?

Timothy: Is it now a hand-bellows? It's long
since I seen the like of that.

Mother: It is, but what bellows?

Timothy: Not a bellows? I'd nearly say it to be one.

Mother: There has strange things come to pass.

Timothy: That's what we've all been praying
for this long time!

Mother: Ah, can't you give attention and strive
to listen to me. It is all coming back to my mind.
All the things I am remembering have my mind
tattered and tossed.

Timothy: (Who has been trying to hear the music,
sings a verse.)

"You haven't an arm and you haven't a leg,
Hurroo! Hurroo!
You're a yellow noseless chickenless egg,
You'll have to put up with a bowl to beg.
O Johnny, I hardly knew you!

(Music ceases.)

Mother: Will you give attention, I say! It
will be worth while for you to go chat with me now
I can be telling you all that happened in my years
gone by. What was it Conan was questioning me
about a while ago? What was it now....

"Aristotle in the hour
He left Ireland left a power!"...

Timothy: That now is a very nice sort of a
little prayer.

Mother: (Calling out.) That's it! Aristotle's
Bellows! I know now what has happened. This
that is in my hand has in it the power to make
changes. Changes! Didn't great changes come in
the house to-day! (Shouts.) Did you see any great
change in Celia?

Timothy: Why wouldn't I, and she at this
minute fighting and barging at some poor travelling
man, saying he laid a finger mark of bacon-grease upon
the lintel of the door. Driving him off with a broken-toothed
rake she is, she that was so gentle that she
wouldn't hardly pluck the feathers of a dead duck!

Mother: It was surely a blast of this worked
that change in her, as the blast she blew upon me
worked a change in myself. O! all the thoughts
and memories that are thronging in my mind and
in my head! Rushing up within me the same as
chaff from the flail! Songs and stories and the
newses I heard through the whole course of my
lifetime! And I having no person to tell them out
to! Do you hear me what I'm saying, Timothy?
(Shouts in his ear.) What is come back to me is
what I lost so long ago, my MEMORY.

Timothy: So it is a very good song.


"By Memory inspired, and love of glory fired,
The deeds of men I love to dwell upon,
And the sympathetic glow of my spirit must bestow
On the memory of Mitchell that is gone, boys, gone—
The memory of Mitchell that is gone!"

Mother: Thoughts crowding on one another,
mixing themselves up with one another for the
want of sifting and settling! They'll have me
distracted and I not able to speak them out to
some person! Conan as surly as a bramble bush,
and Celia wrapped up in her bucket and her broom!
And yourself not able to hear one word I say. (Sobs,
and bellows falls from her hands.)

Timothy: I'll lay it down now out of your way,
ma'am, the way you can cry your fill whatever
ails you.

Mother: (Snatching it back.) Stop! I'll not
part with it! I know now what I can do! Now!
(Points it at him.) I'll make a companion to be
listening to me through the long winter nights and
the long summer days, and the world to be without
any end at all, no more than the round of the
full moon! You that have no hearing, this will
bring back your hearing, the way you'll be a
listener and a benefit to myself for ever. I
wouldn't feel the weeks long that time!

(Blows. Timothy turns away and gropes
toward wall.)

(She sings: Air, "Eileen Aroon.")

"What if the days go wrong,
When you can hear!
What if the evening's long,
You being near,
I'll tell my troubles out,
Put darkness to the rout
And to the roundabout!
Having your ear!"

(Rock at door: sneezes. Mother drops bellows
and goes. Timothy gives a cry,
claps hands to ears and rushes out as if

Rock: (Coming in seizes bellows.) Well now,
didn't this turn to be very lucky and very good!
The very thing I came looking for to be left there
under my hands! (Puts it hurriedly under coat.)

Flannery: (Coming in.) What are you doing
here, James Rock?

Rock: What are you doing yourself?

Flannery: What is that in under your coat?

Rock: What's that to you?

Flannery: I'll know that when I see it.

Rock: What call have you to be questioning me?

Flannery: Open now your coat!

Rock: Stand out of my way!

Flannery: (Suddenly tearing open coat and seizing
Did you think it was unknownst to me
you stole the bellows?

Rock: Ah, what steal?

Flannery: Put it back in the place it was!

Rock: I will within three minutes.

Flannery: You'll put it back here and now.

Rock: (Coaxingly.) Look at here now, Michael
Flannery, we'll make a league between us. Did
you ever see such folly as we're after seeing to-day?
Sitting there for an hour and a half till that one
settled the world upside down!

Flannery: If I did see folly, what I see now is

Rock: Didn't you take notice of the way that
foolish old man is wasting and losing what was
given him for to benefit mankind? A blast he has
lost turning a pigeon to a crow, as if there wasn't
enough in it before of that tribe picking the spuds
out of the ridges. And another blast he has lost
turning poor Celia, that was harmless, to be a holy
terror of cleanness and a scold.

Flannery: Indeed, he'd as well have left her
as she was. There was something very pleasing
in her little sleepy ways.


"But sad it is to see you so
And to think of you now as an object of woe;
Your Peggy'll still keep an eye on her beau.
O Johnny, I hardly knew you!"

Rock: Bringing back to the memory of his
mother every old grief and rancour. She that has
a right to be making her peace with the grave!

Flannery: Indeed it seems he doesn't mind
what he'll get so long as it's something that he

Rock: Three blasts gone! And the world didn't
begin to be cured.

Flannery: Sure enough he gave the bellows no
fair play.

Rock: He has us made a fool of. He using it
the way he did, he has us robbed.

Flannery: There's power in the four blasts
left would bring peace and piety and prosperity
and plenty to every one of the four provinces of

Rock: That's it. There's no doubt but I'll
make a better use of it than him, because I am a
better man than himself.

Flannery: I don't know. You might not get
so much respect in Dublin.

Rock: Dublin, where are you! What would
I'd do going to Dublin? Did you never hear said
the skin to be nearer than the shirt?

Flannery: What do you mean saying that?

Rock: The first one I have to do good to is

Flannery: Is it that you would grab the benefit
of the bellows?

Rock: In troth I will. I've got a hold of it, and
by cripes I'll knock a good turn out of it.

Flannery: To rob the country and the poor for
your own profit? You are a class of man that is
gathering all for himself.

Rock: It is not worth while we to fall out of
friendship. I will use but the one blast.

Flannery: You have no right or call to meddle
with it.

Rock: The first thing I will meddle with is my
own rick of turf. And I'll give you leave to go do
the same with your own umbrella, or whatever
property you may own.

Flannery: Sooner than be covetous like yourself
I'd live and die in a ditch, and be buried
from the Poorhouse!

Rock: Turf being black and light in the hand,
and gold being shiny and weighty, there will be
no delay in turning every sod into a solid brick of
gold. I give you leave to do the same thing, and
we'll be two rich men inside a half an hour!

Flannery: You are no less than a thief! (Snatches
at bellows.)

Rock: Thief yourself. Leave your hand off it!

Flannery: Give it up here for the man that
owns it!

Rock: You may set your coffin making for I'll
beat you to the ground.

Flannery: (As he clutches.) Ah, you have given
it a shove. It has blown a blast on yourself!

Rock: Yourself that blew it on me! Bad cess
to you! But I'll do the same bad turn upon you!

Flannery: There is some footstep without.
Heave it in under the ashes.

Rock: Whist your tongue! (Flings bellows
behind hearth.)

(Conan comes in.)

Conan: With all the chattering of women I
have the train near lost. The car is coming for
me and I'll make no delay now but to set out.


"Oh the French are on the sea,
Says the Sean Van Vocht,
Oh the French are on the sea,
Says the Sean Van Vocht,

Oh the French are in the bay,
They'll be here without delay,
And the Orange will decay,
Says the Sean Van Vocht!"

Here now is my little pack. You were saying,
Thomas Flannery, you would be lending me the
loan of your umbrella.

Flannery: Ah, what umbrella? There's no fear
of rain.

Conan: (Taking it.) You to have proffered it
I would not refuse it.

Flannery: (Seizing it.) I don't know. I have
to mind my own property. It might not serve
it to be loaning it to this one and that. It might
leave the ribs of it bare.

Conan: That's the way with the whole of ye. I
to give you my heart's blood you'd turn me upside
down for a pint of porter!

Flannery: I see no sense or charity in lending to
another anything that might be of profit to myself.

Conan: Let you keep it so! That your ribs may
be as bare as its own ribs that are bursting out
through the cloth!

Rock: Do not give heed to him, Conan. There
is in this bag (takes it out) what will bring you every
whole thing you might be wanting in the town.
(Takes out notes and gold and gives them.)

Conan: It is only a small share I'll ask the lend of.

Rock: The lend of! No, but a free gift!

Conan: Well now, aren't you turned to be very
kind? (Takes notes.)

Rock: Put that back in the bag. Here it is, the
whole of it. Five and fifty pounds. Take it and
welcome! It is yourself will make a good use of
it laying it out upon the needy and the poor.
Changing all for their benefit and their good! Oh,
since St. Bridget spread her cloak upon the Curragh
this is the most day and the happiest day ever
came to Ireland.

Conan: (Giving bag to Flannery.) Take it you,
as is your due by what the mother said a while ago
about the robbery he did on you in the time past.

Flannery: Give it here to me. I'll engage I'll
keep a good grip on it from this out. It's long
before any other one will get a one look at it!

Conan: There would seem to be a great change
—and a sudden change come upon the two of ye.
...(With a roar.) Where now is the bellows?

Flannery: (Sulkily.) What way would I know?

Conan: (Shaking him.) I know well what
happened! It is ye have stolen two of my blasts!
Putting changes on yourselves ye would—much
good may it do ye—. Thieving with your covetousness
the last two nearly I had left!

Rock: (Sulkily.) Leave your hand off me! I
never stole no blast!

Conan: There's a bad class going through the
world. The most people you will give to will be
the first to cry you down. This was a wrong out
of measure! Thieves ye are and pickpockets!
Ye that were not worth changing from one to
another, no more than you'd change a pinch of
dust off the road into a puff of ashes. Stealing
away my lovely blasts, bad luck to ye, the same as
Prometheus stole the makings of a fire from the
ancient gods!

Flannery: That is enough of keening and
lamenting after a few blasts of barren wind—I'll
be going where I have my own business to attend.

Conan: Where, so, is the bellows?

Flannery: How would I know?

Conan: The two of ye won't quit this till I'll
find it! There is another two blasts in it that
will bring sense and knowledge into Ireland yet!

Rock: Indeed they might bring comfort yet
to many a sore heart!

Conan: (Searching.) Where now is it? I
couldn't find it if the earth rose up and swallowed
it. Where now did I lay it down?

Rock: There's too much changes in this place
for me to know where anything is gone.

Conan: (At door.) Where are you, Maryanne!
Celia! Timothy! Let ye come hither and search
out my little bellows!

(Timothy comes in, followed by Mother.)

Conan: Hearken now, Timothy!

Timothy: (Stopping his ears.) Speak easy, speak easy!

Conan: Take down now your fingers from your
ears the way you will hear my voice!

Timothy: Have a care now with your screeching
would you split the drum of my ear?

Conan: Is it that you have got your hearing?

Timothy: My hearing is it? As good as that I
can hear a lie, and it forming in the mind.

Conan: Is that the truth you're saying?

Timothy: Hear, is it! I can hear every whisper
in this parish and the seven parishes are nearest.
And the little midges roaring in the air.—Let ye
whist now with your sneezing in the draught!

Conan: This is surely the work of the bellows.
Another blast gone!

Rock: So it would be too. Mostly the whole
of them gone and spent. It's hard know in the
morning what way will it be with you at night.
"I saw from the beach when the morning was
A bark o'er the waters move gloriously on—
came when the sun o'er the beach was declining,
The bark was still there, but the waters were gone."

Timothy: It is yourself brought the misfortune
on me, calling your Druid spells into the house.

Conan: It is not upon you I ever turned it.

Timothy: You have a great wrong done to me!

Mother: It is glad you should be and happy.

Timothy: Happy, is it? Give me a hareskin cap
for to put over my ears, having wool in it very thick!
(Sings.) "Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water,
Break not ye breezes your chain of repose,
While murmuring mournfully Lir's lonely daughter
Tells to the night-star her tale of woes.

"When shall the swan, her death-note singing,
Sleep with wings in darkness furl'd?
When will heaven its sweet bells ringing
Call my spirit from this stormy world?"

Mother: Come with me now and I'll be chatting
to you.

Timothy: Why would I be listening to your
blather when I have the voices of the four winds to
be listening to? The night wind, the east wind,
the black wind and the wind from the south!

Conan: Such a thing I never saw before in all
my natural life.

Timothy: To be hearing, without understanding
it, the language of the tribes of the birds! (Puts
hands over ears again
.) There's too many sounds
in the world! The sounds of the earth are terrible!
The roots squeezing and jostling one another
through the clefts, and the crashing of the acorn
from the oak. The cry of the little birdeen in
under the silence of the hawk!

Conan: (To Mother.) As it you let it loose
upon him, let you bring him away to some hole or
cave of the earth.

Timothy: It is my desire to go cast myself in
the ocean where there'll be but one sound of its
waves, the fishes in its meadows being dumb!
(Goes to corner and hides his head in a sack.)

Mother: Even so there might likely be a mermaid
playing reels on her silver comb, and yourself
craving after the world you left.
(Sings: Air, "Spailpin Fanach.")
"You think to go from every woe to peace in the
wide ocean,
But you will find your foolish mind repent its
foolish notion.
When dog-fish dash and mermaids splash their
finny tails to find you,
I'll make a bet that you'll regret the world you
left behind you!"

Celia: (Clattering in with broom, etc.) What
are ye doing, coming in this room again after I
having it settled so nice? I'll allow no one in the
place again, only carriage company that will have
no speck of dust upon the sole of their shoe!

Mother: Oh, Celia, there has strange things

Celia: What I see strange is that some person
has meddled with that hill of ashes on the hearth
and set it flying athrough the air. Is it hens ye
are wishful to be, that would be searching and
scratching in the dust for grains? And this thrown
down in the midst! (Holds up bellows.)

Conan: Give me my bellows!

Mother: No, but give it to me!

Rock and Flannery: Give it to myself!

Timothy: (Looking up, with hands on ears.)
My curse upon it and its work. Little I care if it
goes up with the clouds.

Celia: What in the world wide makes the whole
of ye so eager to get hold of such a thing?

Conan: It has but the one blast left!
"'Tis the last Rose of Summer
Left blooming alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes
Or give sigh for sigh!"

Celia: What are you fretting about blasts and
about roses?

Rock: It has a charm on it—

Flannery: To change the world—

Mother: That chedang myself—

Conan: For the worse—

Mother: And Timothy—

Conan: For the worse—

Rock: Myself and Flannery—

Conan: For the worse, for the worse—

Mother: Conan that changed yourself with it—

Conan: For the very worst!

Celia: (To Conan.) Is it riddles, or is it that
you put a spell and a change upon me?

Conan: If I did, it was for your own good!

Celia: Do you call it for my good to set me
running till I have my toes going through my shoes?
(Holds them out.)

Conan: I didn't think to go that length.

Celia: To roughen my hands with soap and
scalding water till they're near as knotted and as
ugly as your own!

Conan: Ah, leave me alone! I tell you it is not
by my own fault. My plan and my purpose that
went astray and that broke down.

Celia: I will not leave you till you'll change me
back to what I was. What way can these hands go
to the dance house to-night? Change me back, I say!

Rock: And me—

Timothy: And myself, that I'll have quiet in my
head again.

Conan: I cannot undo what has been done.
There is no back way.

Timothy: Is there no way at all to come out of
it safe and sane?

Conan: (Shakes head.) Let ye make the best of it.

Flannery: (Sings.) (Air, "I saw from the Beach.")

"Ne'er tell me of glories serenely adorning
The close of our day, the calm eve of our night.
Give me back, give me back the wild freshness of morning,
Her clouds and her tears are worth evening's best light."

Mother: (Who has bellows in her hand.) Stop!
Stop—my mind is travelling backward far
I can hardly reach to it ...but I'll come to it
...the way I'll be changed to what I was before,
and the town and the country wishing me well, I
having got my enough of unfriendly looks and hard

Timothy: Hurry on, Ma'am, and remember, and
take the spell off the whole of us.

Mother: I am going back, back, to the longest
thing that is in my mind and my memory!...
I myself a child in my mother's arms the very day
I was christened....

Conan: Ah, stop your raving!

Mother: Songs and storytelling, and my old
generations laying down news of this spell that is
now come to pass....

Rock: Did they tell what way to undo the

Mother: You have but to turn the bellows the
same as the smith would turn the anvil, or St.
Patrick turned the stone for fine weather ...
and to blow a blast ...and a twist will come
inside in it and the charm will fall off with that
blast, and undo the work that has been done!

All: Turn it so!
(Cats look over, playing on fiddles "O Johnny, I
hardly knew you," while mother blows on each.)

Timothy: Ha! (Takes hands from ears and puts
one behind his ear

Rock: Ha! Where now is my bag? (Turns
out his pockets, unhappy to find them empty

Flannery: Ha! (Smiles and holds out umbrella
to Conan, who takes it

Mother: (To Celia.) Let you blow a blast on me.
(Celia does so.) Now it's much if I can remember
to blow a blast backward upon yourself!

Celia: Stop a minute! Leave what is in me of
life and of courage till I will blow the last blast is
in the bellows upon Conan.

Conan: Stop that! Do you think to change
and to crow over me. You will not or I'll lay my
curse upon you, unless you would change me into
an eagle would be turning his back upon the whole
of ye, and facing to his perch upon the right hand
of the master of the gods!

Celia: Is it to waste the last blast you would?
Not at all. As we burned the candle we'll burn the
inch! I'll not make two halves of it, I'll give it to
you entirely!

Conan: You will not, you unlucky witch of illwill!
(Protects himself with umbrella.)

Celia: (Having got him to a corner.) Let you
take things quiet and easy from this out, and be as
content as you have been contrary from the very
day and hour of your birth!
(She blows upon him and he sits down smiling.
Mother blows on Celia, and she sits down
in first attitude.)

Celia: (Taking up pigeon.) Oh, there you are
come back my little dove and my darling!
(Sings: "Shule Aroon.")
"Come sit and settle on my knee
And I'll tell you and you'll tell me
A tale of what will never be,
Go-dé-tóu-Mavourneen slan!"

Conan: (Lighting pipe.) So the dove is there,
too. Aristotle said there is nothing at the end but
what there used to be at the beginning. Well now,
what a pleasant day we had together, and what
good neighbours we all are, and what a comfortable
family entirely.

Rock: You would seem to have done with your
complaints about the universe, and your great plan
to change it overthrown.

Conan: Not a complaint! What call have I to
go complaining? The world is a very good world,
the best nearly I ever knew.
"O, a little cock sparrow he sat on a tree,
O, a little cock sparrow he sat on a tree,
O, a little cock sparrow he sat on a tree,
And he was as happy as happy could be,
With a chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup!

"A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup!
A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup!
A chirrup, a chirrup, a chirrup!
A chirrup, a chirrup, a——!"



I had begun to put down some notes for this play when in the autumn of 1919 I was suddenly obliged (through the illness and death of the writer who had undertaken it) to take in hand the writing of the "Life and Achievement" of my nephew Hugh Lane, and this filled my mind and kept me hard at work for a year.

When the proofs were out of my hands I turned with but a vague recollection to these notes, and was surprised to find them fuller than they had appeared in my memory, so that the idea was rekindled and the writing was soon begun. And I found a certain rest and ease of mind in having turned from a long struggle (in which, alas, I had been too often worsted) for exactitude in dates and names and in the setting down of facts, to the escape into a world of fantasy where I could create my own. And so before the winter was over the play was put in rehearsal at the Abbey Theatre, and its first performance was on St. Patrick's Day, 1921.

I have been looking at its first scenario, made according to my habit in rough pen and ink sketches, coloured with a pencil blue and red, and the changes from that early idea do not seem to have been very great, except that in the scene where Conan now hears the secret of the hiding-place of the Spell from the talk of the cats, the Bellows had been at that time left beside him by a dwarf from the rath, in his sleep. The cats work better, and I owe their success to the genius of our Stage Carpenter, Mr. Sean Barlow, whose head of the Dragon from my play of that name had been such a masterpiece that I longed to see these other enchanted heads from his hand.

The name of the play in that first scenario was "The Fault-Finder," but my cranky Conan broke from that narrowness. If the play has a moral it is given in the words of the Mother, "It's best make changes little by little, the same as you'd put clothes upon a growing child." The restlessness of the time may have found its way into Conan's mind, or as some critic wrote, "He thinks of the Bellows as Mr. Wilson thought of the League of Nations," and so his disappointment comes. As A.E. writes in "The National Being," "I am sympathetic with idealists in a hurry, but I do not think the world can be changed suddenly by some heavenly alchemy, as St. Paul was smitten by a light from the overworld. Though the heart in us cries out continually, 'Oh, hurry, hurry to the Golden Age,' though we think of revolutions, we know that the patient marshalling of human forces is wisdom.... Not by revolutions can humanity be perfected. I might quote from an old oracle, 'The gods are never so turned away from man as when he ascends to them by disorderly methods.' Our spirits may live in the Golden Age but our bodily life moves on slow feet, and needs the lantern on the path and the staff struck carefully into the darkness before us to see that the path beyond is not a morass, and the light not a will o' the wisp." (But this may not refer to our own Revolution, seeing that has been making a step now and again towards what many judged to be a will o' the wisp through over seven hundred years.)

As to the machinery of the play, the spell was first to have been worked by a harp hung up by some wandering magician, and that was to work its change according to the wind, as it blew from north or south, east or west. But that would have been troublesome in practice, and the Bellows having once entered my mind, brought there I think by some scribbling of the pencil that showed Conan protecting himself with an umbrella, seemed to have every necessary quality, economy, efficiency, convenience.

As to Aristotle, his name is a part of our folklore. The old wife of one of our labourers told me one day, as a bee buzzed through the open door: "Aristotle of the Books was very wise but the bees got the better of him in the end. He wanted to know how did they pack the comb, and he wasted the best part of a fortnight watching them, and he could not see them doing it. Then he made a hive with a glass cover on it and put it over them, and he thought to watch them. But when he went to put his eye to the glass, they had it all covered with wax so that it was as black as the pot, and he was as blind as before. He said he was never rightly killed till then. The bees had him beat that time surely." And Douglas Hyde brought home one day a story from Kilmacduagh bog, in which Aristotle took the place of Solomon, the Wise Man in our tales as well as in those of the East. And he said that as the story grew and the teller became more familiar, the name of Aristotle was shortened to that of Harry.

As to the songs they are all sung to the old Irish airs I give at the end.


August 18, 1921.




January, 1919



The Five Princes.

The Five Wrenboys.

The Guardian of the Princes and Governor of the Island.

The Servant.

The Two Dowager Messengers.

The Ogre.

The Jester.

Two Soldiers.

The Scene is laid in The Island of Hy Brasil, that appears every seven years.

Time: Out of mind.



Scene: A winter garden, with pots of flowering
trees or fruit-trees. There are books about and
some benches with cushions on them and many
cushions on the ground. The young
sitting or lying at their ease. One is playing
"Home, Sweet Home" on a harp. The

SERVANT—an old manis standing in the

1st Prince: Here, Gillie, will you please take off
my shoe and see what there is in it that is pressing
on my heel.

Servant: (Taking it off and examining it.) I
see nothing.

1st Prince: Oh, yes, there is something; I have
felt it all the morning. I have been thinking this
long time of taking the shoe off, but I waited for

Servant: All I can find is a grain of poppy seed.

1st Prince: That is it of course—it was enough
to hurt my skin.

2nd Prince: Gillie, there is a mayfly tickling
my cheek. Will you please brush it away.

Servant: I will and welcome. (Fans it off.)

3rd Prince: Just give me, please, that book
that is near my elbow. I cannot reach to it without
taking my hand off my cheek.

Servant: I wouldn't wish you to do that.
(Gives him book.)

4th Prince: Gillie, I think, I am nearly sure,
there is a feather in this cushion that has the quill
in it yet. I feel something hard.

Servant: Give it to me till I will open it and
make a search.

4th Prince: No, wait a while till I am not lying
on it. I will put up with the discomfort till then.

5th Prince: Would it give you too much trouble,
Gillie, when you waken me in the morning, to
come and call me three times, so that I can have
the joy of dropping off again?

Servant: Why wouldn't I? And there is a
thing I would wish to know. There will be a
supper laid out here this evening for the Dowager
Messengers that are coming to the Island, and I
would wish to provide for yourselves whatever
food would be pleasing to you.

1st Prince: It is too warm for eating. All I
will ask is a few grapes from Spain.

2nd Prince: A mouthful of jelly in a silver
spoon ...or in the shape of a little castle with
towers. When will the Lady Messengers be here?

Servant: Not before the fall of day.

2nd Prince: The time passes so quietly and
peaceably it does not feel like a year and a day since
they came here before.

Servant: No wonder the time to pass easy and
quiet where you are, with comfort all around you,
and nothing to mark its course, and every season
feeling the same as another, within the glass walls
and the crystal roof of this place. And the old
Queen, your godmother, sending her own Chamberlain
to take charge of you, and to be your Guardian,
and Governor of the Island. Sure, the wind
itself must slacken coming to this sheltered place.

3rd Prince: That is a great thing. I would
not wish the rough wind to be blowing upon me.

4th Prince: Or the dust to be rising and coming
in among us to spoil our suits.

5th Prince: Or to be walking out on the hard
roads, or climbing over stone walls, or tearing
ourselves in hedges.

1st Prince: That is the reason we were sent
here by the Queen, our Godmother, in place of
being sent to any school. To be kept safe and

2nd Prince: Not to be running here and there
like our own poor five first cousins, that used to
be slipping out and rambling in their young youth,
till they were swallowed up by the sea.

3rd Prince: It was maybe by some big fish of
the sea.

2nd Prince: It might be they were brought
away by sea-robbers coming in a ship.

3rd Prince: Foolish they were and very foolish
not to stay in peace and comfort in the house where
they were safe.

Servant: There is no fear of ye stirring from
where you are, having every whole thing ye can

4th Prince: Here is the Guardian coming!

(They all rise.)

Guardian: (A very old man, much encumbered
with wraps, coming slowly in
.) Are you all here,
all the five of you?

All: We are here!

Guardian: (Standing, leaning on a stick, to
address them
.) It's a pity that these being holidays,
your teachers and tutors are far away.

Gone off afloat in a cedar boat to a College of
Learning out in Cathay.

1st Prince: It's a pity indeed they're not here

Guardian: For it's likely you looked in your
almanacs, or judged by the shape of the lessening
moon, That your Godmother's Dowager Messengers are
due to arrive this afternoon.

2nd Prince: We did and we think they'll be
here very soon.

Guardian: But I know they'll be glad that each
royal lad, put under my rule in place of a school,
Can fashion his life without trouble or strife, and
be shielded from care in a nice easy chair.

3rd Prince: As we always are and we always

Guardian: It is part of my knowledge that lads
in a college, and made play one and all with a bat
and a ball,
Come often to harm with a knock on the arm,
and their hands get as hard as the hands of a clown.

4th Prince: But ours are as soft as thistledown.

Guardian: And I've seen young princes not
far from your age, go chasing beasts on a winter day,
And carted home with a broken bone, and a
yard of a doctor's bill to pay;
Or going to sail in the teeth of a gale, when the
waves were rising mountains high,
Or fall from a height that was near out of sight,
robbing rooks from their nest in a poplar tree.

5th Prince: (To another.) But that never
happened to you or me.

Guardian: Or travelling far to a distant war,
with battles and banners rilling their mind,
And creeping back like a crumpled sack, content
if they'd left no limbs behind.

1st Prince: But we'll have nothing to do with
that, but stop at home with an easy mind.

Guardian: (Sitting down.) That's right. And
now I would wish you to say over some of your
tasks, to make ready for the Dowager Messengers,
that they may bring back a good report to the
Queen, your Godmother.

1st Prince: We'll do that. We would wish to be
a credit to you, sir, and to our teachers.

Guardian: Say out now some little piece of
Latin; that one that is my favourite.

1st Prince:
Aere sub gelido nullus rosa fundit odores,
Ut placeat tellus, sole calesce Dei.

Guardian: Say out the translation.

2nd Prince: Beneath a chilly blast the rose,
loses its sweet, and scentless blows;

If you would have earth keep its charm, stop
in the sunshine and keep warm.

Guardian: Very good. Now your history book;
you were learning of late some genealogies of kings,
might suit your Godmother.

3rd Prince:
William the First as the Conqueror known
At the Battle of Hastings ascended the throne,
His Acts were all made in the Norman tongue
And at eight every evening the curfew was rung
When each English subject by royal desire

Extinguished his candle and put out his fire.
He bridled the kingdom with forts round the Border
And the Tower of London was built by his order.

2nd Prince:
William called Rufus from having red hair,
Of virtues possessed but a moderate share,
But though he was one whom we covetous call,
He built the famed structure called Westminster Hall.
Walter Tyrrell his favourite, when hunting one day,
Attempted a deer with an arrow to slay,
But missing his aim, shot the King to the heart
And the body was carried away in a cart.

Guardian: That will do. You have that very
well in your memory. Now let me hear the
grammar lesson.

3rd Prince:
A noun's the name of anything
As school or garden, hoop or swing.

Guardian: Very good, go on.

4th Prince:
Adjectives tell the kind of noun
As strong or pretty, white or brown.
5th Prince:
Conjunctions join the nouns together
As men and children, wind or weather.

Guardian: It will be very useful to you to have
that so well grafted in your mind.... What
noise is that outside?

Servant: It is some strolling people.

1st Prince: Oh, Guardian, let them come in.
We will do our work all the better if we have some
amusement now.

Guardian: Maybe so. I am well pleased when
amusements come to our door, that you can see
without going outside the walls.

(A Jester enters in very ragged green clothes
and broken shoes.)

But this is a very ragged looking man. Do you
know anything about him, Gillie?

Servant: I seen him one time before.... At
the time of the earthquake out in Foreign. A mad
jester he was. A tramp class of a man. (To Jester.)
Where is it you stop?

Jester: Where do I stop? Where would I be
but everywhere, like the bad weather. I stop in
no place, but going through the whole roads of
the world.

Guardian: What brought you in here?

Jester: Hearing questions going on, and answers.
I am well able to give help in that. It's
not long since I was giving instruction to the sons
of the King of Babylon. Here now is a question.
How many ladders would it take to reach to the

1st Prince: It should be a great many.

2nd Prince: I give it up.

Jester: One ...if it is long enough! Which
is it easier to spell, ducks or geese?

3rd Prince: Ducks I suppose because it's shorter.

Jester: Not at all but geese. Do you know
why? Because it is spelled with ees. Tell me
now, can you spell pup backwards?

4th Prince: P-u-p....

Jester: Not at all.

4th Prince: But it is.

Jester: No, that is pup straight forwards....
Can you run back and forwards at the same time?

4th Prince: Answer it yourself so.

Jester: You would be as wise as myself then.
But I'll show you some tricks. Look at these
three straws on my hand. Will I be able to blow
two of them away, and the other to stay in its place?

5th Prince: They would all blow away.

Jester: Look now. Puff! (He has put his
finger on the middle one
.) Now is it possible?

5th Prince: It is easy when you know the way.

Jester: That is so with all knowledge. Can you
wag one ear and keep the other quiet?

1st Prince: Nobody can do that.

Jester: (Wagging one ear with his finger.) There,
now you see I have done it! There's more learning
than is taught in books. Wait now and I'll give
you out a song I'll engage you never heard. (Sings
or repeats

It's I can rhyme you out the joy
That's ready for a lively boy.
Cuchulain flung a golden ball
And followed it where it would fall,
And when they counted him a child
He took the flying swans alive.
And Finn was given hares to mind
Till he outran them and the wind;
And he could swim and overtake
The wild duck swimming on the lake.
Osgar's young music was to thwack
The enemy and drive him back....

Guardian: That's enough now. I have no
fancy for that class of song. What other amusements
are there?

Servant: There are the Wrenboys are come here
at the end of their twelve days' funning.

Jester: That's it! The Wrenboys; a rambling
troop; rambling the world like myself. I will make
place for them. The old must give way to the

(He goes and sits down in a corner, munching
a crust and dozing

Servant: Come in here let ye, and show what
ye can do!

(Wrenboys come in playing a fife. They are
wearing little masks and are dressed in
ragged tunics; they carry drum and, fife,
and stand in a line

All Five Wrenboys: (Together.)

The wren, the wren, the King of all birds,
On Stephen's Day was caught in the furze.
Although he's small his family's great,
Rise up kind gentry and give us a treat!
(Rub-a-tub-tub-tub, on the drum.)

Down with the kettle and up with the pan
And give us money to bury the wren!

We followed him twenty miles since morn,
The Wrenboys are all tattered and torn.
From Kyle-na-Gno we started late
And here we are at this grand gate!

He dipped his wing in a barrel of beer—
We wish you all a Happy New Year!
Give us now money to buy him a bier
And if you don't, we'll bury him here!
(Rub-a-tub, and fife.)

(Princes laugh and clap hands.)

1st Prince: That is very good.

2nd Prince: We must give them some money to
bury the wren!

Guardian: Come on then and I will give you
some. They will be glad of it. Play now the
harp as you go.

(Princes go off playing, "Home, Sweet Home."
The Wrenboys sit down.)

1st Wrenboy: It is likely we'll get good treatment.

Jester: (Coming forward.) Ye should be tired.

2nd Wrenboy: We should be, but that we have
our feet well soled,—with the dust of the road!

3rd Wrenboy: If walking could tire us we might
be tired. But we're as well pleased to be moving,
where we have no house or home that you'll call a
house or a home.

Jester: That's not so with those young princes.
Wouldn't you be well pleased if ye could change
places with them? (He goes back to his corner.)

4th Wrenboy: They are lovely kind young
princes. I was near in dread they might set the
dogs at us.

5th Wrenboy: They would do that if they
knew the Ogre had sent us to spy out the place
for him.

1st Wrenboy: It failed us to see what he wanted
us to see. It is likely he will beat us, when we go
back, with his cat-o'-nine-tails.

2nd Wrenboy: Wouldn't it be good if we could
do as that Jester was saying and change places with
those sons of kings! They that can lie in the
sunshine on soft pillows.

3rd Wrenboy: They that can use food when they
ask it, and not have to wait till they can find it,
or steal it, or get it what way they can.

3rd Wrenboy: And not to be waiting till you'll
hear a rabbit squealing, with the teeth of a weasel
in his neck.

4th Wrenboy: And the weasel when you take
it to be spitting poison at you, the same as a serpent.

5th Wrenboy: It would be a nice thing to be
eating sweet red apples in place of the green crabs.

1st Wrenboy: Or to be maybe sucking marrow-bones.

2nd Wrenboy: It is likely they are as airy and
as careless as the blackbird singing on the bush.

3rd Wrenboy: It's likely they go following after
foxes on horses, having huntsmen and beagles at
their feet.

4th Wrenboy: Or go out sporting and fowling
with their greyhound and with their gun.

5th Wrenboy: Or matching fighting cocks.

1st Wrenboy: It's likely they lead a gentleman's
life, card-playing and eating and drinking, and
racing with jockeys in speckled clothes.

2nd Wrenboy: Their brooches were shining like
green fire, the same as a marten cat's eyes. They
have everything finer than another.

3rd Wrenboy: Their faces as clean as a linen
sheet. Their hair as if combed with a silver comb.

4th Wrenboy: There is no one to so much as
put a clean shirt on ourselves.

5th Wrenboy: (Rubbing his hand.) I never
felt uneasy at the dirt that is grinted into me till
I saw them so nice.

1st Wrenboy: That music they were playing
put me in mind of some far thing. It is dreamed
to me, and it is never leaving my mind, that there
is something I remember in the long ago ...
music in a house that was as bright as the moon,
or as the brightest night of stars.

5th Wrenboy: Whisht! They are coming!

(The Princes come back.)

1st Prince: Here are coppers for you.

2nd Prince: And white money.

3rd Prince: And here is a piece of gold.

3rd Wrenboy: We are thankful to you! We'll
bury the Wren in grand style now!

4th Prince: Have you far to go?

1st Wrenboy: Not very far if it was a straight
road. But it is through the forest we go, beyond
the lake.

2nd Wrenboy: We will hardly be there before
the moon rises.

1st Prince: Are you afraid in the night time?

2nd Wrenboy: I am not. But I've seen a great
deal of strange things at that time.

2nd Prince: What sort of things?

2nd Wrenboy: Fairies you'd see.

3rd Prince: Are there such things?

2nd Wrenboy: One night I was attending a pot-still,
roasting oats for to make still-whiskey, and I
seen hares coming out of the wood, by fours and by
sixes, and they as thin as thin....

3rd Wrenboy: Hares are the biggest fairies of all.

4th Wrenboy: And down by the sea I met a
weasel bringing up a fish in his mouth from the
tide. And I often seen seals there, seals that are
enchanted and look like humans, and will hold up
a hand the same as a Christian.

5th Wrenboy: I that saw a hedgehog running
up the side of a mountain as swift as a racehorse.

1st Wrenboy: It's the moonlight is the only time!

1st Prince: I never saw the moon but through
a window.

1st Wrenboy: That's the time to go ramble.
(He chants.)
You'll see the crane in the water standing,
And never landing a fish, for fright,
For he can but shiver seeing in the river
His shadow shaking in the bright moonlight.

2nd Wrenboy: Or you may listen to the plover's whistle,
When high above him the wild geese screech;
Or the mallard flying, as the night is dying,
His neck out-stretched towards the salt sea beach.

3rd Wrenboy: When dawn discloses the oak and shows us
The wide sky whitening through the scanty ash,
High in the beeches the furry creatures,
Squirrel and marten lightly pass.

4th Wrenboy:
The badger scurries to find his burrow
The rabbit hurries to hide underground.

5th Wrenboy:
The pigeon rouses the thrush that drowses,
The woods awaken and the world goes round!

1st Wrenboy: Come now, it's time to be taking
the road. Thank you, noble Gentlemen! That
you may be doing the same thing this day fifty years!
(They go off playing fife and beating drum.)

1st Prince: I would nearly wish to be in their
place to go through the world at large.

2nd Prince: They can go visit strange cities,
sailing in white-sailed ships.

3rd Prince: They have no lessons to learn.

4th Prince: No hours to keep. No clocks to

5th Prince: No Lady Messengers coming to
show off to.

1st Prince: They should be as merry as midges.

2nd Prince: As free as the March wind.

3rd Prince: I don't know how we stopped so
long shut up in this place.

4th Prince: I would be nearly ready to change
places with them if such a thing were possible.

Jester: (Who has had his back to them comes
forward; the Princes stand on his right in a half
And why wouldn't you change?

5th Prince: It is a thing not possible.

Jester: I never could know the meaning of that
word "impossible." Where there's a will there's
a way.

1st Prince: It seems to me like the sound of a
bell ringing a long way off, that I had leave at one
time to go here and there.

Jester: If you are in earnest wanting to come to
that freedom again you will get it.

2nd Prince: No, we would be followed and
brought back through kindness.

Jester: If you have the strong wish to make
the change you can make it.

1st Prince: I think I was never so much in
earnest in all my life.

(The Jester takes his pipe and plays a note
on it. The Wrenboys come back beating
their drum. They stand in a half circle
on Jester's left.)

Jester: (To all.)
If it's true ye wish to change,
Some to have a wider range,
Some to have an easy life,
Some to rove into the wild,
If you do it, do it fast,
Do it while you have the chance.

Wrenboys: (Together.) We will change! We will!

Jester: (To Princes.)
If you wish to leave your ease
And live wild and free like these
Like the fawn free and wild,
Not closed in as is a child,
Take your chance as it has come,
Let you run and run and run,
Where you'll get your joy and fun!

2nd Prince: They will know us, they will know us!

Jester: Change your clothes, change your clothes!

3rd Prince: They will know us every place.

Jester: Put their masks upon your face.

(Wrenboys give them the masks.)
You never will be missed
For I will throw a dust
Before everybody's eye
That wants to look or pry
To see if you are here,—
And if you should appear
To be someway strange or queer
They will think themselves are blind
Or confused in the mind!

(Throws a handful of dust over all the boys.)

Dust of Mullein, work your spell;
Keep the double secret well!

5th Prince: (To a Wrenboy.)

Give me here your coat now fast
I don't want to be the last.

(They all rapidly change coats and caps.)

Jester: That will do, that is enough.

1st Wrenboy: But my hands are very rough.

Never mind; never mind,
The truth is hard to find!

Guardian: (Off stage.) Gillie, do as you are
told, shut the door, it's getting cold.

1st Prince: Oh, I'm in dread! What will be

2nd Prince: I'd sooner stay in my old way!

Never mind, never mind!
The truth is hard to find!
Keep steady. Are you ready?

1st Wrenboy: I'll be ashamed if I am blamed.

2nd Wrenboy: I have no grace or lovely face!

Jester: (To Princes.) Too late, too late! Go
out the gate!

(The Princes have taken up fife and drum.
They march out playing





(A front scene. A poor hut or tent, the
Princes are coming in slowly, some limping.
They are in Wrenboys' clothes and the
masks are in their hands

1st Prince: This should be the hut where the
Wrenboys told us to come.

2nd Prince: It is a poor looking place.

3d Prince: It is good to have any place to sit
down in for a while. My back is aching.

4th Prince: My feet are all scratched and torn.
There are blisters rising.

5th Prince: I thought we would never come to
the end of the road. The stones by the lake were
so hard and so sharp.

1st Prince: It was a root of a tree I fell over
that made these bruises on my knees. I was
watching a hawk that was still and quiet up in the
air, and when it made a swoop all of a sudden
I stumbled and fell.

2nd Prince: It was in slipping where the rocks
are high I gave this twist to my arm. I can hardly
move it.

3rd Prince: But wasn't the sight of the sunset
splendid over the lake? And the hills so blue!

4th Prince: I like the tall trees best. I tried
to climb up one of them, but it was so smooth I
did but slip and fall.

1st Prince: I would wish to walk as far as the
hills, and to have a view of the ocean that is beyond.

5th Prince: I am hungry. I wonder where we
will get our supper.

4th Prince: Not in this place, anyway, it must
be making ready in some big guesthouse.

3rd, Prince: What will they give us, I wonder?

2nd Prince: I wish we had in our hand what
they have ready for us at home.

1st Prince: What use would it be to us? Do
you remember what we asked to be given, some
jellies and a few grapes? It is not that much
would satisfy me now.

2nd Prince: Indeed it would not. I never felt
so sharp a hunger in my longest memory.

3rd Prince: It is roasted meat I would wish for.

4th Prince: There were pigeons in the tall
trees. They will maybe give us a pigeon pie.

5th Prince: I would be content with a plate of
minced turkey with poached eggs.

1st Prince: I would sooner have a roasted
chicken, with bread sauce.

2nd Prince: Be quiet.... I think I hear someone
coming! (Looks out.)

3rd Prince: (Looking out.) I see him. He is not
a right man ...he is very strange looking....

4th Prince: (Looking out.) Oh! It is an Ogre!
A Grugach!

(All shrink back and hurriedly put on masks.)

Ogre: (Coming in: he wears a frightful mask, has
red hair and a cloak of rough skins and carries a
whip with many lashes
.) What makes ye late to-night,
ye young schemers? What was it delayed
ye? Lagging along the road.

1st Prince: We came as fast as we could. It
was getting dusk in the wood.

Ogre: Dusk, good morrow to you! I'll dusk
ye! I had a mind to go after ye and to change
myself into the form of a wolf, and catch a hold of
ye with my long sharp teeth!

2nd Prince: We did not know there was any
great hurry.

Ogre: There is always hurry when you are on
my messages. What did I bring you away from
your own house for and put ye on the shaughraun
for and keep ye wandering, if it was not to be
serviceable and helpful to myself. Show me now
what ye have in your pocket or your bag.

3rd Prince: This is all we got in the bag. (Holds
it out
.) It is but very little.

Ogre: (Turning it out and counting it.) Coppers!
Silver! What is this? A piece of gold! Is that
what ye call little? What notions ye have! Take
care did ye keep any of it back! If ye did I'll
skin ye with the lash of my cat-o'-nine-tails.
(Shakes it.)

4th Prince: That is all we got. It should maybe
pay for our supper in some place.

Ogre: What supper? To go buy supper with
my money! It will go to add to my store of
treasure in the cave that is under ground.

5th Prince: We are hungry, very hungry. When
will the supper be ready?

Ogre: It will be ready whenever ye will ready
it for yourselves. Ye should know that by this time.

1st Prince: We would make it ready if we were
acquainted with the way.

Ogre: It is gone cracked ye are? What is it
ye are thinking to get for your supper? What
ailed ye that ye didn't climb a tree and suck a few
pigeon's eggs?

2nd Prince: We were thinking of a pigeon pie.

Ogre: A what!!!

2nd Prince: A pigeon pie.

Ogre: Hurry on then making your pigeon pie!
There are pigeons enough there in the corner, that
a hawk that is my carrier brought me in a while
ago. And there's a pike that was in the lake these
hundred years, an otter is after leaving at my door.

3rd Prince: (Taking a pigeon.) I don't think
this is a right pigeon.

4th Prince: Pigeons in a pie are not the pigeons
that have feathers.

5th Prince: (To Ogre.) Please, sir, where can
we find pigeons without feathers, that are trussed
on a silver skewer?

Ogre: Aye? What's that?

1st Prince: Never mind. You'll anger him.
Maybe we can pull the feathers off these. I have
read of plucking a pigeon in our books. (They
begin to pluck

2nd Prince: It is very hard work.

3rd Prince: I never knew feathers could stick
in so hard.

4th Prince: The more we pull out the more
there would seem to be left.

5th Prince: It will be a feather pie we will be
getting in the end.

1st Prince: (Throwing it down.) It is no use.
We might work at it to-day and to-morrow and be
no nearer to a finish.

2nd Prince: The pike might be better.

3rd Prince: It has no feathers anyway.

4th Prince: (Touching it.) It is raw and bleeding!

5th Prince: We might roast it.

1st Prince: The fire is black out.

2nd Prince: I wonder what way can we kindle it?

3rd Prince: Better ask him. (Points to Ogre.)

2nd Prince: Please, sir, what way can we kindle
the fire?

Ogre: What!

4th Prince: We would wish to light the fire.

Ogre: Well, do so.

5th Prince: If we had a box of matches....

Ogre: Matches! What are you talking about?
Matches won't be invented for the next seven
hundred years.

1st Prince: What can we do then, we are starving
with hunger.

Ogre: Let ye blow a breath upon a coal under
the ashes, and bring in small sticks from the wood.

2nd Prince: (Blowing.) The ashes are choking me.

Ogre: Very good. Then you'll put no delay
on me, waiting till you'll cook your supper.

3rd Prince: Where can we get it then?

Ogre: You'll go without it, as you were too
helpless to catch it, or to dress it, there's no one
will force you to eat it.

4th Prince: If there is nothing for us to eat we
had best pass the time in sleep.

5th Prince: I am all covered with ashes and
dirt. (To Ogre.) Please, where can I find a towel
and a piece of soap?

Ogre: Soap! Is it bewitched ye are or demented
in the head? Did ever anyone hear of
soap unless of a Saturday night? Letting on to be
as dainty and as useless as those young princes
beyond, that are kept closed up in a tower of glass.
Come on now. If there is no food that suits you,
leave it. It is time for us to get to work.

1st Prince: But it is bed-time.

Ogre: Your bed-time is the time when I have
no more use for you. Don't you know I have
made a plan? What was it I sent you for, spying
out that place of the young princes? Wasn't it
to see where is it that treasure is kept, the golden-handled
sword of Justice that is used by the
Guardian when he turns Judge.

2nd Prince: That is kept in the Courthouse.

Ogre: That's right what part of it?

3rd Prince: What do you want it for?

Ogre: I have it in my mind this long time to
get and to keep it in my cave under ground, along
with the rest of my treasures that are in charge of
my two enchanted cats. I have had near enough
of grubbing for gold with a pick in the clefts and
crannies of the earth. It is time for me to find
some rest, and get into my hand what is ready
worked and smelted and purified. We are going
to that Courthouse to-night. If we cannot get in
at the door, I will put ye in at the window and ye
can open the door to myself. I will find out
where the sword is, and away with us, and it in
my hand.

4th Prince: But that would be stealing.

Ogre: What else would it be?

4th Prince: But that is wrong. It is against the law.

Ogre: The law! That is the Judge's trade.
Breaking it is mine.

5th Prince: Ask him for it and maybe he will
give it to you, he is so kind.

Ogre: I'll take no charity! What I get I'll
earn by taking it. I would feel no pleasure it being
given to me, any more than a huntsman would
take pleasure being made a present of a dead fox,
in place of getting a run across country after it.
Come on now! We'll have the moon wasted.
We'll hardly get there before the dawn of day.

1st Prince: Whatever time you get there the
Guardian will be awake. There is a cock of Denmark
perched on the curtain rod of his bed,
specially to waken him if there is any stir.

Ogre: There is, is there? What a fool you
think me to be. Do you see that pot?

2nd Prince: We do see it.

Ogre: Look what there is in it.

3rd Prince: Nothing but a few bare bones.

Ogre: Well, that is all that is left of the Judge's
cock of Denmark, that was brought to me awhile
ago by a fox that is my messenger, and that I have
boiled and ate and devoured.

All the Princes: O! O! O!

Ogre: (Cracking his whip.) He was boiled in
the little pot. Come on now and lead the way, or
I give you my word it is in the big pot your own
bones will be making broth for my breakfast in the
morning! (Cracks whip.) Now, right about face!
Quick march!



(The Winter Garden, evening. The Servant
settling benches and a table.)

Guardian: (Coming in.) Are the Dowager
Messengers come? They are late.

Servant: They are come. They are at the
looking-glasses settling themselves.

Guardian: As soon as they are ready you will
call in the Princes for their examination before
them, and their tasks.

Servant: I will.

Guardian: The Messengers will have a good
report to bring back of them. They have come
to be good scholars, in poetry, in music, in languages,
in history, in numbers and all sorts. The
old Queen-Godmother will be well satisfied with
their report.

Servant: She might and she might not.

Guardian: They would be hard to please if they
are not well pleased with the lads, as to learning
and as to manners and behaviour.

Servant: Maybe so. Maybe so. There are
strange things in the world.

Guardian: You're in bad humour, my poor
Gillie. Have you been quarrelling with the cook,
or did you get up on the wrong side of your

Servant: There is times when it is hard not to
be in a bad humour.

Guardian: What are you grumbling and hinting at?

Servant: There's times when it's hard to believe
that witchcraft is gone out of the world.

Guardian: That is a thing that has been done
away with in this Island through my government,
and through enlightenment and through learning.

Servant: Maybe so. Maybe so.

Guardian: I suppose a three-legged chicken has
come out of the shell, or a magpie has come before
you in your path? Or maybe some token in the

Servant: It would take more than that to put
me astray.

Guardian: Whatever it is you had best tell it out.

Servant: To see lads of princes, sons of kings,
and the makings of kings, that were mannerly and
well behaved and as civil as a child a few hours
ago, to be sitting in a corner at one time as if in
dread of the light, and tricking and fooling and
grabbing at other times.

Guardian: Oh, is that all! The poor lads.
They're out of their habits because of their Godmother's
Messengers coming. They are making
merry and funning, thinking there might be
messages for them or presents.

Servant: Funning is natural. But blowing their
nose with their fingers is not natural.

Guardian: High spirits. Just to torment you
in their joy.

Servant: To get a bit of chalk, and to make
marks in the Hall of dancing, and to go playing

Guardian: High spirits, high spirits! I never
saw boys better behaved or more gentle or with
more sweetness of speech. I am thinking there is
not one among them but will earn the name of

Servant: Have it your own way. But is it a
natural thing, I am asking, for the finger nails to
make great growth in one day?

Guardian: Stop, stop, be quiet. Here now are
the Dowager Messengers. (Two old ladies in
travelling costume appear; bowing low to them.)

You are welcome for the sake of her that sent you,
and for your own sakes.

1st Dowager Messenger: We are come from the
Court of the Godmother Queen, for news of the
Princes now in your charge;

She hopes they have manners, are minded well,
and never let run at large;

For she never has yet got over the fret, of their
five little cousins were swept away.

Guardian: Let your mind be at ease, for you'll
be well pleased with the youngsters you're going
to see to-day.

They're learning the laws to speak and to pause—
may be orators then, or Parliament men.

2nd Dowager Messenger: Are they shielded from


In my sheltering arm;

Do their work and their play in a mannerly way
And go holding their nose, and tipped on their
If they pass through a street, that they'll not soil

their feet.

2nd Dowager Messenger: And next to good
manners and next to good looks ...

I know what you'll say ...she asks news of the cooks;
I'm with her in putting them equal to books;
There's some rule by coaxing and some rule by beating,
But my principle is, tempt them on with good eating.
When everything's said, isn't Sparta as dead
As many a place never heard of black bread?
And as to a lad who a tartlet refuses,—
If Cato stewed parsnips he hated the Muses!

1st Dowager Messenger: And at meals are they
taught to behave as they ought?

You'll be well satisfied and the Queen will have pride,
You will see every Prince use a fork with his mince,
And eating his peas like Alcibiades,
Who would sooner go mute than play on the flute
Lest it made him grimace and contorted his face.

1st Dowager Messenger: Oh, all that you say
delights us to-day!

We'll have good news to bring of these sons of
a king.

Servant: Here they are now coming.

(Wrenboys in Princes' clothes come in awkwardly.)

Now put out a chair.
Where these ladies may hear.
Come over, my boys ...(Now what is that noise?)
Come here, take your places, and show us your
And say out your task as these ladies will ask.
I would wish them to know how you say Parlez-vous,
And I'd like you to speak in original Greek
And make numeration, and add up valuation;
But to lead you with ease and on by degrees
In case you are shy in the visitors' eye
I will let you recite, as you easily might,
The kings of that Island that no longer are silent
But ask recognition and to take a position—
(Though if stories are true they ran about blue,
While we in Hy-Brasil wore our silks to a frazzle—)
So the rhymes you may say that I heard you to-day;
And the opening will fall on the youngest of all.

Servant: Let you stand up now and do as you
are bid. (Touches 5th Wrenboy.)

Guardian: Go on, my child, say out your lesson.
William the First as the Conqueror known....
(Boy puts finger in mouth and hangs his head.)
Ah, he is shy. Don't be affrighted, go on now;
don't you remember it?

5th Wrenboy: I do not.

Guardian: Try it again now. You said it off
quite well this morning.

5th Wrenboy: It fails me.

Guardian: Now I will give you a start: "William
the First as the Conqueror known,
At the Battle of Hastings ascended the throne
..." Say that now.

5th Wrenboy: (Nudging 4th.) Let you word it.

4th Wrenboy: (To Guardian.) Let you word it
again, sir.

Guardian: "William the First as the Conqueror

4th Wrenboy: William the First as the congereel

Guardian: What is that? You would not do
it to vex me! Gillie is maybe right. There is
something strange.... (To another.) You may
try now. Go on to the next verse. "William
called Rufus from having red hair." ...(He does
not answer
.) Say it anyone who knows....

3rd Wrenboy: (Putting up his hand.) I know
a man that has red hair!

All the Wrenboys: (Cheerfully) So do I! So
do I!

2nd Wrenboy: He lives in the wood beyond!
He is no way good! He is an Ogre, a Grugach....

1st Wrenboy: He can turn himself into the shape
of a beast, or he can change his face at any time;
sometimes he'll be that wicked you would think
he was a wolf; he would skin you with his cat-o'-nine-tails!

Guardian: What gibberish are you talking?

2nd Wrenboy: He goes working underground to
get gold!

3rd Wrenboy: It is minded by enchanted cats!

4th Wrenboy: They would tear in bits anyone
that would find it!

Guardian: Now take care, lads, this is carrying
a joke too far. I was wrong to begin with that
silly history. Tell me out now the parts of speech.

"A noun's the name of anything
As school or garden, hoop or swing."

5th Wrenboy: An owl's the name of anything....

Guardian: A noun.

5th Wrenboy: An owl.

Guardian: Don't pretend you don't know it.

5th Wrenboy: I do know it. I know an owl
that sits in the cleft of the hollow sycamore and
eats its fill of mice, till it can hardly put a stir
out of itself.

Guardian: I do wish you would stop talking

1st Wrenboy: It is not, but sense. It devoured
ere yesterday a whole fleet of young rats.

2nd Wrenboy: It's as wise as King Solomon.

Guardian: Gillie was right. There is surely
something gone wrong in their heads.

2nd Wrenboy: Go out yourself and you'll see are
we wrong in the head! Inside in the old sycamore
he is sitting through the daylight.

1st Dowager Messenger: There is something gone
wrong in somebody's head.

2nd Dowager Messenger: (Tapping her forehead.)
The poor Guardian; he is too long past his youth.
It is well we came to look how things were going
before it is too late.

1st Dowager Messenger: Ask them to say something
they do know.

Guardian: Here, you're good at arithmetic, say
now your numbers.

1st Wrenboy: Twelve coppers make a shilling.
I never handled more than that.

Guardian: (Angrily.) Well, do as the lady said,
tell us something you do know.

2nd Wrenboy: (Standing up, excited.) I know
the way to make bird-lime, steeping willow rods in
the stream....

3rd Wrenboy: I know how to use my fists; I
knocked a tinker bigger than myself.

4th Wrenboy: I am the best at wrestling. I
knocked himself. (Pointing at 3rd.)

5th Wrenboy: I that can skin a fawn after
catching him running!

2nd Dowager Messenger. Where now did you get
that learning?

5th Wrenboy: Here and there, rambling the
woods, sleeping out at night. I would never
starve in any place where grass grows!

1st Dowager Messenger: This is worse than
neglect. The poor old Guardian the Queen put
her trust in must be in his dotage.

Guardian: (Hastily.) Here, there is at least one
thing you will not fail in. Take the harp (hands
it to the 1st Wrenboy
) and draw out of it sweet
sounds, (To Dowager Messengers.) He can play
a tune so sweet it has been known to send all the
hearers into a sound sleep. Here now, touch the
strings with all your skill.

(1st Wrenboy bangs harp, making a crash.)

2nd Dowager Messenger: (With hands to ears.)
Mercy! Our poor ears!

1st Dowager Messenger: That is the poorest
music we have ever heard.

2nd Dowager Messenger: That sound would send
no one into their sleep. It would be more likely
to send them into Bedlam.

1st Dowager Messenger: Whatever they knew
last year, they have forgotten it all now.

Guardian: (Weeping into his handkerchief.) I
don't know what has come upon them! At noon
they were the most charming lads in the whole
world. Their memory seems to have left

2nd Dowager Messenger: It is as if another
memory had come to them. They did not learn
those wild tricks shut up in the garden.

Servant: (To Boys.) Can't ye behave nice and
not ugly? (To Guardian.) You would not believe
me a while ago. I said and I say still there is
enchantment on them, and spells.

Guardian: Oh, I would be sorry to think such
a thing. But they never went on this way in their
greenest youth.

2nd Dowager Messenger: If there is a spell upon
them what way can it be taken off?

Servant: It is what I always heard, that to make
a rod of iron red in the fire, and to burn the enchantment
out of them is the only way.

Guardian: Oh, boys, do you hear that! You
would not like to be burned with a red hot rod!
Say out now what at all is the matter with you?
What is it you feel within you that is putting you
from your gentle ways?

1st Wrenboy: The thing that I feel in me is
hunger. The thing I would wish to feel inside me
is a good fistful of food.

1st Dowager Messenger: They have been starved
and stinted! It would kill their Godmother on
the moment if she was aware of that!

Guardian: It is a part of their playgame. They
have everything they ask.

2nd Wrenboy: I did not eat a farthing's worth
since yesterday.

3rd Wrenboy: My teeth are rusty with the want
of food!

4th Wrenboy: I want some dinner!

5th Wrenboy: We want something to eat!

Guardian: Give them whatever you have ready
for them, Gillie.

Servant: (Giving the plates.) Here is the supper
ye gave orders for this morning.

1st Wrenboy: What is it at all?

Servant: It is your choice thing. Jellies and
grapes from Spain.

2nd Wrenboy: (Pushing away grapes) Berries!
I thought to get better than berries from the bush.

3rd Wrenboy: There's not much satisfaction in

4th Wrenboy: If it was a pig's foot now; or as
much as a potato with a bit of dripping.

5th Wrenboy: (Looking at jelly.) What now is
this? It has like the appearance of frog spawn.

1st Wrenboy; Or the leavings of a fallen star.

5th Wrenboy: Shivering it is and shaking. It's
not natural! (Drops his plate.)

4th Wrenboy: There is nothing here to satisfy
our need.

2nd. Dowager Messenger: I am nearly sorry for
them, poor youngsters. When they were but little
toddlers they never behaved like that at home.

3rd Wrenboy: It's the starvingest place ever I
was in!

1st Dowager Messenger: There must be something
in what they say. They would not ask for
food if they were not in need of it. And the
Guardian making so much talk about his table and
his cooks. We cannot go home and report that
they have no learning and no food.

2nd Dowager Messenger: As to learning I don't
mind. But as to food, I would not wish to leave
them without it for the night. They might be as
small as cats in the morning.

Guardian: They are dreaming when they say
they are in want of food.

1st Dowager Messenger: It is a dream that will
waken up their Godmother.

Servant: Look, ma'am, at the table behind you,
and you will see is this a scarce house! That is
what is set out for yourselves, ma'am, lobsters
from Aughanish! A fat turkey from the barley
gardens! A spiced and larded sucking pig! Cakes
and sweets and all sorts! It is not the want of
provision was ever brought against us up to this!

2nd Dowager Messenger: If all this is for us, we
would sooner give it up to those poor children.

(To Wrenboys.) Here, my dears, we will not eat
while you are in want of food. We will give it all
to you.

1st Wrenboy: Is it that we can have what is on
that table?

2nd Dowager Messenger: You may, and welcome.

1st Wrenboy: (With a shout.) Do you hear
that news! Come on now. Take your chance!
I'll have the first start! Skib scab! Hip, hip,

(They rush at table and upset it, flinging
themselves on the food




The Hall of Justice. It is nearly dawn. The last
of the Princes is getting in through the window.
They are wearing their masks

Ogre: (Outside door to left.) Open now the door
for myself.

1st Prince: No, we will get rid of him now. Let
the Grugach stay outside.

2nd Prince: That will be best. He cannot
break the bars of this door, or get round over the
high wall to the door on the other side.

3rd Prince: I am sore with the blows he put on
us, driving us before him through the wood.

4th Prince: Let us call to the Guardian, and let
him deal with him. He can bring his foot soldiers
and his guns.

5th Prince: A villain that Ogre is and a thief,
wanting to steal away the golden-handled sword.
But we would not tell him where it was, and he
never will find it under the step of the Judge's
chair. (Lifts top of step, takes out sword and puts it
back again

Ogre: (Outside.) Are ye going to open the door?

1st Prince: It is a great thing to have that
strong door between us.

2nd Prince: Take care would he break it in.

3rd Prince: No fear. It would make too much
noise. It would bring every person in the house

4th Prince: Let us go quick and call the

5th Prince: What will he say seeing us in these
clothes? He will be vexed with us.

1st Prince: It was folly of us running away.
But he will forgive us, knowing it will teach us
better sense.

2nd Prince: Come to him then, I don't mind
what he will do to us so long as we are safe from
the terrible Grugach of an Ogre. (All go to right
door, it opens and Ogre bursts in

Ogre: Ye thought to deceive me, did ye? Ye
thought to bar me out and to keep me out? And
I after minding you and caring you these seven

3rd Prince: What way did you get in?

Ogre: It's easy for me to get in any place. If
I had a mind I could turn into a house fly and come
through the lockhole of the door. It's much if I
don't change the whole lot of ye into small birds,
and myself to a hawk going through you! Or, into
frightened mice, and I myself into a starving cat!
It's much if I don't skin you with this whip, and
grind your bones as fine as rape seed!

4th Prince: I will call for help! (Tries to shout.)

Ogre: (Putting hand over his mouth and lifting
Shout now and welcome, and it is bare
bones will be left of you! If it wasn't that I need
you to search out the golden-handled sword for me
I'd throttle the whole of ye as easy as I'd squeeze
an egg! Come on now! Show me where the
treasure is hid.

5th Prince: How would we know?

Ogre: Didn't I send ye spying it out, and if it
fails ye to make it out, I'll boil and bake you!

1st Prince: (Looking about and pointing to end
of room
.) It might be there.

Ogre: What way would it be on the bare floor?
Search it out.

2nd Prince: (Looking under a bench.) It might
be here.

Ogre: It is not there.

3rd Prince: (Looking up chimney?) This would
be a good hiding-place.

Ogre: (Looks up.) There is nothing in it, only
an old nest of a jackdaw,—a bundle of bare twigs.
Trying to deceive me you are and to lead me astray.

4th Prince: It might be on the shelf.

Ogre: Stop your chat unless you have something
worth saying.

5th Prince: (Sitting down on step under which
sword is hidden
.) Are you certain there is any
treasure at all?

Ogre: You are humbugging and making a fool
of me! (Lashes whip and seizes him.) Get up
now out of that! (Drags him up and taps board.)
There is a hollow sort of a sound.... That is
a sort of place where a treasure might be hid.
(Drags up board.) I see something shining. (Pulls
out sword
.) Oh, it is a lovely sword! And the
handle of pure gold. The best I ever seen!

1st Prince: (To the others.) I'll make a run now
and call out and awaken all in the house! (Is going
towards door

Ogre: (Seizing him.) You'd make your escape
would you?

1st Prince: (Calling out.) Ring the big bell,
ring the bell! I forgot it till now.

(They pull a bell-rope and bell is beard clanging.)

Ogre: (Rushing at them as they ring it.) I'll stop

(Voices are heard, at door to right. Ogre rushes to other door.)

2nd Prince: I'll get the sword from him. (Snatches
it away as Ogre is rushing at him. Servant and
Guardian come in

Guardian: What is going on! (Blows a whistle.)
Here, soldiers of the guard!

(Feet are heard marching and bugle blowing at
left door. Ogre rapidly slips off his mask,
and appears as a harmless old man.)

Guardian: Thieves! Robbers! Burglars!
Here, soldiers, surround the place; who are these
ruffians? Murder! Robbery! Fire!

(Two soldiers come in.)

Servant: They are the very same youngsters
were at our door this morning, doing their play;
those Wrenboys!

Guardian: They are thieves. There is one of
them bringing away my gold-handled sword. (He
and Servant seize sword

Ogre: (Coming forward and bowing low.) It
is time for you to come, your honour my lordship!
I am proud to see you coming! It was I myself
that rang the bell and that called and awakened
you, where I would not like to see the place robbed
and left bare by these scum of the world!

All the Princes: Oh! Oh! Oh!

Guardian: What have you to do with it?
Where do you come from?

Ogre: An honest poor man I am....

Servant: You have a queer wild sort of a

Ogre: Making a living I do be, dressing up as a
hobgoblin and a bogey man to get an odd copper
from a mother here and there, would be wishful to
frighten a stubborn child from bawling or from
tricks. Passing the door I was, and hearing a noise
I looked in, and these young villains were after
rising a board and taking out that sword you seen
in their hands. It is then that I made a clamour
with the bell.

(Princes laugh.)

Guardian: Who are they at all?

Ogre: It is I myself say it; they are the terror
of the whole district.

1st Prince: You may save your breath and stop
that talk. This gentleman knows us well. He
knows us and will recognise us.

Guardian: I do recognise you. I saw you but

2nd Prince: There now, what do you say?

Guardian: You are those vagabond Wrenboys
that came tricking and begging to my gate.

Princes: Oh! Oh! Oh!

Ogre: That's it! Spying round they were!
Thinking to do a robbery! Robbery they're after

3rd Prince: We were doing no such thing!

Guardian: You were! I stopped you making
off with my sword of Justice.

Ogre: If it wasn't for me hindering them they
would have it swept.

Guardian: That was very honest of you.

4th Prince: (Rushing at Ogre.) It is you that
are a rogue and a thief!

Other Princes: Throw him down while we have
the chance. (They surround him.)

Guardian: Silence! Don't make that disturbance!
I felt a suspicion yesterday the first
time I saw your faces there was villainy hidden
beneath the dust that was on your cheeks.

4th Prince: Listen to us, listen!

Guardian: And whatever I thought then, you
are seventeen times more wicked looking now!
And the very scum of the roads!

5th Prince: Oh, have you forgotten your

Guardian: It is well you reminded me of them.
(To Servant.) Go now and bring the young Princes
here till they will see justice done! They are
maybe gone a bit wild and foolish since yesterday,
put out by those Dowager Messengers. But whatever
they were at their worst, they are King George
compared with these!

1st Prince: You must listen!

Guardian: Must! What is that language!
That is a word was never said to me since I was
made the Queen's Chamberlain. Here! Put a
gag upon their mouths! (Soldiers do so, tying a
handkerchief on mouth of each
.) Tie their hands
behind them with ropes. (This is done.) Rapscallions!
Do they think to terrify and command me!
I that am not only Governor of the Island but am
Supreme Judge whenever I come into this Court.

Ogre: That is very good and very right! Keep
the gag in their mouth! You wouldn't like to be
listening to the things they were saying a while
ago! They were giving out great impudence and
very disrespectful talk!

Guardian: Give me here my Judge's wig and
my gown! (Puts them on.) Where now are the
young Princes?

Servant: They are coming now.

Guardian: It will be a great help in their education
seeing justice done by me, as straight as was
ever done by Aristides. Give me here that book of
punishments and rewards. I'll see what is bad
enough for these lads! (He consults book.)

Servant: Here now are the Princes.

(Wrenboys come in wearing Princes' clothes)

1st Wrenboy: (To another) Do you see who it
is that is in it?

2nd Wrenboy: It is the young Princes in our

3rd Wrenboy: What in the world wide brought
them here? Believe me it was through some
villainy of the Grugach.

4th Wrenboy: What at all has happened?

5th Wrenboy: Go ask them what it was brought
them, or what they came doing.

1st Wrenboy: (To Princes) What is it brought
you here so soon?

(Princes shake their heads)

2nd Wrenboy: (Coming back) There is a gag
on their mouths!

3rd Wrenboy: (Going and looking) Their hands
are tied with a rope.

4th Wrenboy: They had not the wit to stand
against the Grugach; it is not long till they were
brought to trouble.

5th Wrenboy: It was seventeen times worse
for them to be under him than for ourselves that
was used to him, and to his cruelty and his ways.

1st Wrenboy: It was bad enough for ourselves.
We were not built for roguery.

(The Dowager Messengers rushing in.)

Dowager Messengers: (Together.) What is going
on? What has happened?

Guardian: What you see before you has happened.
Those young thieves came to try and to
rob the house. They were found by myself in the
very act of bringing away my golden-handled
sword! They were stopped by this honest man.
(Points to Ogre.)

1st Dowager Messenger: There would seem to be
a great deal of wickedness around this place!

Guardian: I'll put a stop to it! I'll use my
rights as Judge! To have that sort of villainy
running through the Island, it would come through
walls of glass or of marble, and lead away the best.

2nd Dowager Messenger: There must be something
gone wrong in the stars, our own young
princes having gone wild out of measure, and these
young vagabonds doing no less than house-breaking!
It is hard to live!

Ogre: Indeed, ma'am, it would be a great blessing
to the world if all the boys in it could be born
grown up.

Guardian: (Sighing.) I, myself, am beginning
to have that same opinion.

1st Dowager Messenger: And so am I myself.
Young men have strength and beauty, and old
men have knowledge and wisdom, but as to boys!
After what we saw a while ago in the supper

Servant: The Court is about to sit! Take your

(Wrenboys make for the dock and Princes the

Guardian: What do you mean, prisoners, going
up there, that is the place for honourable men!
For a jury! It is here in the criminals' dock your
place is.

Servant: (To Wrenboys.) Oh, that is the wrong
place you're in. That is for the wicked and the
poor that are brought to be tried and condemned.

1st Wrenboy: It is a place the like of that I was
put one time I was charged before a magistrate
for snaring rabbits.

Servant: Silence in the Court. The Judge is
about to speak.

Guardian: (Reading out of book.)
It's laid down in a clause of the Cretian laws,
That were put through a filter by Solon,
That for theft the first time, though a capital crime
A criminal may keep his poll on.
Though (consults another book) some jurists believe
That a wretch who can thieve,
Has earned a full stop, not a colon.

Ogre: That was said by a better than Solon.


And the book says in sum, to cut off the left thumb,
May be penalty enough for a warning;
Though (looks at another book) the Commentors say
That one let off that way
Will be thieving again before morning.

Ogre: So he will, and the jury suborning.

For the second offence, as the crime's more immense,
Take the thumb off the right hand instead;
And the third time he'll steal, without any appeal,
The hangman's to whip off his head.

Ogre: Very right to do so, for a thief as we know,
Isn't likely to steal when he's dead.

2nd Dowager Messenger:
You won't order the worst, as this crime is the first,
It's a pity if they have to swing.


In the Commentors' sense, a primal offence
Is as much an impossible thing
As a stream without source, a blow struck without
Or leaves without roots in the spring.

Ogre: Or a catapult wanting a sling.

But although this case is proved on its face
To be what is called a priori
I cannot refuse to consider the views
Of the amiable lady before me. (Bows to 2nd
Dowager Messenger.)

In compliance to her I am ready to err
On the side that she leans to, of mercy,
For she has a kind tongue, and the prisoners are
But that they may not live to curse me,
I give out my decree, the left thumb shall be
Kept in Court till the next time they'll come.
And now if you please let whoever agrees
With my pledge turn down his own thumb.

1st Dowager Messenger: It is very just and right.
(Turns down hers.)

Ogre: You're letting them off too easy. They're
a bad example to the world. But to take the
thumb off them is better than nothing! (Turns
down both his thumbs.)

Guardian: (To Wrenboys.) Well, my dear pupils,
I don't see you turn down your thumbs.

1st Wrenboy: We cannot do it. (They cover
their faces with their hands.)

Ogre: Get on so. I never saw the work I'd
sooner do than checking youngsters!

Guardian: Where is the Executioner?

Servant: I sent seeking him a while ago, thinking
he might be needed.

Guardian: Bring him in.

Servant: He is not in it. There was so little
business for him this long time under your own
peaceable rule, that he is after leaving us, and
taking a job in a slaughter house out in foreign.

2nd Dowager Messenger: Maybe that is a token
we should let them off.

Ogre: (Briskly.) I am willing to be useful; give
me here a knife or a hatchet!

Servant: (To Ogre.) You need not be pushing
yourself forward. (To Guardian.) There is a
stranger of an Executioner chanced to be passing
the road, just as I sent out, and he looking for
work. He said he would do the job for a four-penny
bit and his dinner, that he is sitting down
to now.

Guardian: (Sitting up straight and taking up sword.)
Bring him in quick. It often seems a curious thing that I,
Who in my ordinary clothes would hardly hurt a fly,
Hold to the rigour of the law when I put on gown and wig,
As if for mere humanity I didn't care a fig.
For once I'm seated on the bench I do not shrink or flinch
From the reddest laws of Draco, or the practice of Judge Lynch.

Servant: (At door.) Here he is now.

(Jester comes in, disguised as Executioner, a
long cloak with hood over his head.)

Guardian: Here is the sword (hands it to him
and reads)
, "In case of the first act of theft the
left thumb is to be struck off." There are the
criminals before you. That is what you have to do.

Jester: (Taking the sword.) Stretch out your
hands! There is hurry on me. I was sitting at
the dinner I engaged for. I was called away from
the first mouthful, and I would wish to go back
to the second mouthful that is getting cold.

Guardian: (Relenting.) Maybe now the fright
would be enough to keep them from crimes from
this out. They are but young.

Jester: (To Princes.) Don't be keeping me
waiting! Put out now your hands. (They shake
their heads.)

Servant: They cannot do that, being bound.

Jester: If you will not stretch out your hands
when I ask you, I will strike off your heads without
asking! (Flourishes sword.)

Guardian: (Standing up.) I did not empower
you to go so far as that! It is without my

Jester: You have given over the power of the
law to the power of the sword. It must take its way!

Guardian: I will not give in to that! I have
all authority here!

Jester: If you grow wicked with the Judge's
wig on your head, so do I with this sword in my
hand! You called me in to do a certain business
and I am going to do it! I am not going to get a
bad name put on me for breach of contract! If
a labourer is given piece work cutting thistles with
a hook he is given leave to do it, or a rat catcher
doing away with vermin in the same way! He
is not bid after his trouble to let them go loose out
of his bag! And why would an Executioner that
is higher again in the profession be checked. Isn't
my pride in my work the same as theirs? And
along with that, let me tell you I belong to a
Trades Union!

(Guardian moans and covers his face.)

(To the Princes.) Kneel down now! Where you
kept me so long waiting and that the Judge attempted
to interfere with me, I have my mind
made up to make an end of you! (Holds up sword.)

1st Wrenboy: (Rushing forward and putting his
arms about Prince.)
You must not touch him!
These lads never did any harm!

2nd Wrenboy: (Protecting a Prince.) It is we
ourselves are to be punished if anyone must be

3d Wrenboy: They are innocent whoever is to

Jester: Take their place so! Someone must be
put an end to.

(All the Wrenboys kneel.)

1st Wrenboy: Here we are so. We changed
places with them for our own pleasure, thinking
to lead a prince's life, and if there is anyone must
suffer by reason of that change let it be ourselves.

Jester: I'll take off their gags so and let them free.

(He cuts cord of gags and hands, then throws
some dust over all boys as before, saying):

Dust of Mullein leave the eyes
You made fail to recognise
Princes in their poor disguise;
Princes all, had men clear eyes!

(The Princes throw off their masks.)

1st Prince: It is all a mistake! Oh, Guardian,
don't you know now that we are your murslings
and your wards! Look at the royal mark upon
our arm, that we brought with us into the world.
(They turn up sleeves and show their arms.)

2nd Dowager Messenger: I am satisfied without
looking at the royal sign. I have been looking at
their finger nails. Those other nails (pointing to
have never been touched with a soapy

2nd Prince: It is strange you did not recognise
us. It was that Jester yesterday when we changed
our coats that threw a dust of disguise between you
and us.

1st Dowager Messenger: Was it that these lads
robbed you of your clothes?

3d. Prince: Not at all.

4th Prince: We ourselves that were discontented
and wishful to change places with them.

Guardian: A very foolish thing, and that I have
never read of in any of my histories.

5th Prince: We were the first to wish the change.
It is we should be blamed.

5th Wrenboy: No, but put the blame on us!
The Wrenboys you seen yesterday.

Guardian: Ah, be quiet, how do I know who
you are, or if ever I saw you before! My poor
head is going round and round.

1st Wrenboy: Now do you know us! (All recite
"The Wren, the Wren, the King of All Birds." Give
first verse.)

Guardian: (Stopping his ears.) Oh, stop it!
That makes my poor head worse again.

2nd Wrenboy: (Pulling up sleeve.) If you had
chanced to see our right arm you would recognise
us. We were not without bringing a mark into
the world with us, if it is not royal itself.

(Wrenboys strip their arms.)

1st Dowager Messenger: What is he talking
about? (Seizes arm and looks at it.)

2nd Dowager Messenger: It is the same mark as
is on the princes, the sign and token of a King!

1st Dowager Messenger: It is certain these must
be their five little royal cousins, that were stolen
away from the coast.

1st Wrenboy: If we were brought away it was
by that Grugach that has kept us in his service
through the years.

2nd Dowager Messenger: It is no wonder they
took to one another. It was easy to know by the
way they behaved they had in them royal blood.

(The Boys turn to each other, the Ogre is
slipping out.)

Jester: (Throwing off his cloak and showing his
green ragged clothes.)
Stop where you are!

Ogre: Do your best! You cannot hinder me!
I have spells could change the whole of ye to a
cairn of grey stones! (Makes signs with his hands.)

Jester: (In a terrible voice.) Are you thinking
to try your spells against mine?

Ogre: (Trembling and falling on his knees.) Oh,
spare me! Hold your hand! Do not use against
me your spells of life and death! I know you
now! I know you well through your ragged dress!
What are my spells beside yours? You the great
Master of all magic and all enchantments, Manannan,
Son of the Sea!

Jester: Yes, I am Manannan, that men are apt
to call a Jester and a Fool, and a Disturber, and a
Mischief-maker, upsetting the order of the world
and making confusion in its order and its ways.
(Recites or sings.)

For when I see a master
Hold back his hireling's fee
I shake my pepper castor
Into his sweetened tea!

And when I see a plan make
The Birds that watch us frown,
I come and toss the pancake
And turn it upside down!

In this I follow after
Lycurgus who was wise;
To the little god of laughter
I make my sacrifice!

And now here is my word of command! Everyone
into his right place!

Ogre: Spare me! Let me go this time!

Jester: Go out now! I will not bring a blemish
on this sword by striking off your ugly head. But
as you have been through seven years an enemy
to these young boys, keeping them in ignorance
and dirt, they that are sons of a king, I cross and
command you to go groping through holes and dirt
and darkness through three times seven years in
the shape of a rat, with every boy, high or low,
gentle or simple, your pursuer and your enemy.
And along with that I would recommend you to
keep out of the way of your own enchanted cats!

(Ogre gives a squeal and creeps away on all fours.)

Guardian: I think I will give up business and
go back to my old trade of Chamberlain and of
shutting out draughts from the Court. The
weight of years is coming on me, and it is time for
me to set my mind to some quiet path.

1st Dowager Messenger: Come home with us
so, and help us to attend to our cats, that they will
be able to destroy the rats of the world.

2nd Dowager Messenger: (To Princes.) It is best
for you come to your Godmother's Court, as your
Guardian is showing the way.

1st Prince: We may come and give news of our
doings at the end of a year and a day.

But now we will go with our comrades to learn
their work and their play.

2nd Prince: For lying on silken cushions, or
stretched on a feathery bed.

We would long again for the path by the lake,
and the wild swans overhead.

3d Prince: Till we'll harden our bodies with
wrestling and get courage to stand in a fight.

4th Prince: And not to be blind in the woods
or in dread of the darkness of night.

1st Wrenboy: And we who are ignorant blockheads,
and never were reared to know
The art of the languaged poets, it's along with
you we will go.

5th Prince: Come show us the wisdom of woods,
and the way to outrun the wild deer,
Till we'll harden our minds with courage, and
be masters of hardship and fear.

2nd Wrenboy: But you are candles of knowledge,
and we'll give you no ease or peace,
Till you'll learn us manners and music, and news
of the Wars of Greece.

1st Prince: Come on, we will help one another,
and going together we'll find,
Joy with those great companions, Earth, Water,
Fire, and Wind. (They join hands.)

Jester: It's likely you'll do great actions, for
there is an ancient word,
That comradeship is better than the parting of
the sword,
And that if ever two natures should join and
grow into one,
They will do more together than the world has
ever done.
So now I've ended my business, and I'll go, for
my road is long,
But be sure the Jester will find you out, if ever
things go wrong!

(He goes off singing.)

And so I follow after
Lycurgus who was wise;
To the little god of laughter
I pay my sacrifice!



I was asked one Christmas by a little schoolboy to write a play that could be acted at school; and in looking for a subject my memory went back to a story I had read in childhood called "The Discontented Children," where, though I forget its incidents, the gamekeeper's children changed places for a while with the children of the Squire, and I thought I might write something on these lines. But my mind soon went miching as our people (and Shakespeare) would say, and broke through the English hedges into the unbounded wonder-world. Yet it did not quite run out of reach of human types, for having found some almost illegible notes, I see that at the first appearance of Manannan I had put in brackets the initials "G.B.S." And looking now at the story of that Great Jester, in the history of the ancient gods, I see that for all his quips and mischief and "tricks and wonders," he came when he was needed to the help of Finn and the Fianna, and gave good teaching to the boy-hero, Cuchulain; and I read also that "all the food he would use would be a vessel of sour milk or a few crab-apples. And there never was any music sweeter than the music he used to be playing."

I have without leave borrowed a phrase from "The Candle of Vision," written by my liberal fellow-countryman, A.E., where he says, "I felt at times as one raised from the dead, made virginal and pure, who renews exquisite intimacies with the divine companions, with Earth, Water, Air, and Fire." And I think he will forgive me for quoting another passage now from the same book, for I think it must have been in my mind when I wrote of my Wrenboys: "The lands of Immortal Youth which flush with magic the dreams of childhood, for most sink soon below far horizons and do not again arise. For around childhood gather the wizards of the darkness and they baptize it and change its imagination of itself, as in the Arabian tales of enchantment men were changed by sorcerers who cried, 'Be thou beast or bird.' So the imagination of life about itself changed and one will think he is a worm in the sight of Heaven, he who is but a god in exile.... What palaces they were born in, what dominions they are rightly heir to, are concealed from them as in the fairy tale the stolen prince lives obscurely among the swineherd. Yet at times men do not remember, in dreams or in the deeps of sleep, they still wear sceptre and diadem and partake of the banquet of the gods."

The Wrenboys still come to our door at Coole on St. Stephen's Day, as they used in my childhood to come to Roxborough, but it is in our bargain that the wren itself must be symbolic, unmolested, no longer killed in vengeance for that one in the olden times that awakened the sentinels of the enemy Danes by pecking at crumbs on a drum. And, indeed, these last two or three years the rhymes concerning that old history have been lessened, and their place taken by "The Soldiers Song."

I think the staging of the play is easy. The Ogre's hut may be but a shallow front scene, a curtain that can be drawn away. The masks are such as might be used by Wrenboys, little paper ones, such as one finds in a Christmas cracker, held on with a bit of elastic, and would help to get the change into the eyes of the audience, which Manannan's Mullein-dust may not have reached.

Air: "Shule Aroonquot" MUSIC
Air: "Mo Bhuachailin Buidhe" <i>Brightly</i> MUSIC
Air: "The Bells of Shandon" <i>Sonorously</i>MUSIC
The Time I’ve Lost in Wooing <i>Poco allegretto</i> MUSIC
My Molly-O MUSIC
Air: "O Donall Abu" MUSIC
The Bard of Armagh <i>Slow</i>. MUSIC
Air: "Dear Harp of My Country" MUSIC
I wish I had the shepherd’s lamb MUSIC
Air: "Let Erin Remember" MUSIC
Air: "And doth not a meeting like this" MUSIC
Garryowen <i>Quickly</i>. MUSIC
Air: "O Bay of Dublin" MUSIC
The Cruiskeen Lán <i>With expression</i>. MUSIC
The Beautiful City of Sligo <i>Quicklly</i>. MUSIC
The Deserter’s Meditation <i>Slow</i>. MUSIC
Oft in the Stilly Night <i>Slow</i>. MUSIC
Johnny, I hardly knew you <i>Spirited</i> MUSIC
By Memory Inspired MUSIC
Eileen Aroon MUSIC
Air: "The Shan Van Vocht" MUSIC
Air: "I saw from the beach" MUSIC
Air: "Silent, O Moyle" MUSIC
An Spailin Fánach <i>Moderately</i>MUSIC
Air: "The Last Rose of Summer" MUSIC

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