Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)
149 Juno and the Paycock: ACT II
The same, but the furniture is more plentiful, and of a vulgar nature. A glaringly upholstered armchair and lounge; cheap pictures and photos everywhere. Every available spot is ornamented with huge vases filled with artificial flowers. Crossed festoons of colored paper chains stretch from end to end of ceiling. On the table is an old attaché case. It is about six in the evening, and two days after the First Act. Boyle, in his shirt-sleeves, is voluptuously stretched on the sofa; he is smoking a clay pipe. He is half asleep. A lamp is lighting on the table. After a few moments’ pause the voice of Joxer is heard singing softly outside at the door –”Me pipe I’ll smoke as I dhrive me moke– are you there, Mor…ee…ar…i…teee!”
Boyle: (leaping up, takes a pen in his hand and busies himself with papers). Come along, Joxer, me son, come along.
Joxer: (putting his head in). Are you be yourself?
Boyle: Come on, come on; that doesn’t matther; I’m masther now, an’ I’m goin’ to remain masther.
[Joxer comes in.]
Joxer: How d’ye feel now, as a man of money?
Boyle: (solemnly). It’s a responsibility, Joxer, a great responsibility.
Joxer: I suppose ‘tis now, though you wouldn’t think it.
Boyle: Joxer, han’ me over that attackey case on the table there. (Joxer hands the case.) Ever since the Will was passed I’ve run hundreds o’ dockyments through me han’s — I tell you, you have to keep your wits about you.
Joxer: Well, I won’t disturb you; I’ll dhrop in when…
Boyle: It’s all right, Joxer, this is the last one to be signed to-day. Now, Joxer, you want to see me; I’m at your service — what can I do for you, me man?
Joxer: I’ve just dhropped in with the £3:5s.that Mrs. Madigan riz on the blankets an’ table for you, an’ she says you’re to be in no hurry payin’ it back.
Boyle: She won’t be long without it; I expect the first cheque for a couple o’ hundhred any day. There’s the five bob for yourself — go on, take it, man; it’ll not be the last you’ll get from the Captain. Now an’ agen we have our differ, but we’re there together all the time.
Joxer: Me for you, an’ you for me, like the two Musketeers.
Boyle: Father Farrell stopped me to-day an’ tole me how glad he was I fell in for the money.
Joxer: He’ll be stoppin’ you ofen enough now; I suppose it was ‘Mr.’ Boyle with him?
Boyle: He shuk me be the han’…
Joxer: I met with Napper Tandy, an’ he shuk me be the han’!
Boyle: You’re seldom asthray, Joxer, but you’re wrong shipped this time. What you’re sayin’ of Father Farrell is very near to blasfeemey. I don’t like any one to talk disrespectful of Father Farrell.
Joxer: You’re takin’ me up wrong, Captain; I wouldn’t let a word be said agen Father Farrell — the heart o’ the rowl, that’s what he is; I always said he was a darlin’ man, a daarlin’ man.
Boyle: Comin’ up the stairs who did I meet but that bummer, Nugent. “I seen you talkin’ to Father Farrell,” says he, with a grin on him. “He’ll be folleyin’ you,” says he, “like a Guardian Angel from this out” — all the time the oul’ grin on him, Joxer.
Joxer: I never seen him yet but he had that oul’ grin on him!
Boyle: “Mr. Nugent,” says I, “Father Farrell is a man o’ the people, an’, as far as I know the History o’ me country, the priests was always in the van of the fight for Irelan’s freedom.”
Joxer: (fervently) Who was it led the van, Soggart Aroon? Since the fight first began, Soggart Aroon?
Boyle: “Who are you tellin’?” says he. “Didn’t they let down the Fenians, an’ didn’t they do in Parnell? An’ now — ” “You ought to be ashamed o’ yourself,” says I, interruptin’, him, “not to know the History o’ your country.” An’ I left him gawkin’ where he was.
Joxer: Where ignorance ‘s bliss ’tis folly to be wise; I wondher did he ever read the Story o’ Irelan’.
Boyle: Be J.L. Sullivan? Don’t you know he didn’t.
Joxer: Ah, it’s a darlin’ buk, a daarlin’ buk!
Boyle: You’d betther be goin’, now, Joxer; his Majesty, Bentham, ‘ll be here any minute, now.
Joxer: Be the way things is lookin’, it’ll be a match between him an’ Mary. She’s thrun over Jerry altogether. Well, I hope it will, for he’s a darlin’ man.
Boyle: I’m glad you think so — I don’t. (Irritably) What’s darlin’ about him?
Joxer: (nonplussed) I only seen him twiced; if you want to know me, come an’ live with me.
Boyle: He’s too dignified for me — to hear him talk you’d think he knew as much as a Boney’s Oraculum.[footnote]Napoleon’s Oraculum was a popular book in the 19th and early 20th centuries. See British Museum Catalogue v., 168, column 624, the Oraculum (1822) is described: “The book of fate, formerly in the possession of Napoleon…and now first rendered into English, from a German translation of an ancient Egyptian manuscript….” Described in The National Union Catalogue (V, 405, 173): “”Napoleon’s Oraculum and dream book (1884): containing the great oracle of human destiny. Also the true meaning of almost any kind of dreams….”[/footnote] He’s given up his job as teacher, an’ is goin’ to become a solicitor in Dublin — he’s been studyin’ law. I suppose he thinks I’ll set him up, but he’s wrong shipped. An’ th’ other fella — Jerry’s as bad. The two o’ them ud give you a pain in your face, listenin’ to them; Jerry believin’ in nothin’, an’ Bentham believin’ in everythin’. One that says all is God an’ no man; an’ th’ other says all is man an’ no God!
Joxer: Well, I’ll be off now.
Boyle: Don’t forget to dhrop down afther awhile; we’ll have a quiet jar, an’ a song or two.
Joxer: Never fear.
Boyle: An’ tell Mrs. Madigan that I hope we’ll have the pleasure of her organization at our little enthertainment.
Joxer: Righto; we’ll come down together.[He goes out.
[Johnny comes from room on left, and sits down moodily at the fire. Boyle looks at him for a few moments, and shakes his head. He fills his pipe.]
Voice of Juno at the door: Open the door, Jack; this thing has me nearly kilt with the weight.
[Boyle opens the door. Juno enters carrying the box of a gramophone,followed by Mary carrying the horn and some parcels. Juno leaves the box on the table and flops into a chair.]
Juno: Carryin’ that from Henry Street was no joke.
Boyle: U-u-ugh, that’s a grand-lookin’ insthrument — how much was it?
Juno: Pound down, an’ five to be paid at two shillin’s a week.
Boyle: That’s reasonable enough.
Juno: I’m afraid we’re runnin’ into too much debt; first the furniture, an’ now this.
Boyle: The whole lot won’t be much out of £2000.
Mary: I don’t know what you wanted a gramophone for — I know Charlie hates them; he says they’re destructive of real music.
Boyle: Desthructive of music — that fella ud give you a pain in your face. All a gramophone wants is to be properly played; its thrue wondher is only felt when everythin’s quiet — what a gramophone wants is dead silence!
Mary: But, father, Jerry says the same; afther all, you can only appreciate music when your ear is properly trained.
Boyle: That’s another fella ud give you a pain in your face. Properly thrained! I suppose you couldn’t appreciate football unless your fut was properly thrained.
Mrs. Boyle: (to Mary). Go on in ower that an’ dress, or Charlie’ll be in on you, an’ tea nor nothin’ll be ready.
[Mary goes into the room left.]
Mrs. Boyle: (arranging table for tea). You didn’t look at our new gramophone, Johnny?
Johnny: ‘Tisn’t gramophones I’m thinking of.
Mrs. Boyle: An’ what is it you’re thinkin’ of, allanna?
Johnny: Nothin’, nothin’, nothin’.
Mrs. Boyle: Sure, you must be thinkin’ of somethin’; it’s yourself that has yourself the way y’are; sleepin’ wan night in me sisther’s, an’ the nex’ in your father’s brother’s — you’ll get no rest goin’ on that way.
Johnny: I can rest nowhere, nowhere, nowhere.
Mrs. Boyle: Sure, you’re not thryin’ to rest anywhere.
Johnny: Let me alone, let me alone, let me alone, for God’s sake.
[A knock at street door]
Mrs. Boyle: (in a flutter). Here he is; here’s Mr. Bentham!
Boyle: Well, there’s room for him; it’s a pity there’s not a brass band to play him in.
Mrs. Boyle: We’ll han’ the tea round, an’ not be clusthered round the table, as if we never seen nothin’. [Steps are heard approaching, and Juno opening the door, allows Bentham to enter.]
Juno: Give your hat an’ stick to Jack, there — sit down, Mr. Bentham — no, not there — in th’ easy chair be the fire — there, that’s betther. Mary’ll be out to you in a minute.
Boyle: (solemnly). I seen be the paper this mornin’ that Consols was down half per cent. That’s serious, min’ you, an’ shows the whole counthry’s in a state o’ chassis.
Mrs. Boyle: What’s Consols, Jack?
Boyle: Consols? Oh, Consols is — oh, there’s no use tellin’ women what Consols is — th’ wouldn’t undherstand.
Bentham: It’s just as you were saying, Mr. Boyle…
[Mary enters, charmingly dressed.]
Bentham: Oh, good evening, Mary; how pretty you’re looking!
Mary: (archly). Am I?
Boyle: We were just talkin’ when you kem in, Mary; I was tellin’ Mr. Bentham that the whole counthry’s in a state o’ chassis.
Mary: (to Bentham). Would you prefer the green or the blue ribbon round me hair, Charlie?
Mrs. Boyle: Mary, your father’s speakin’.
Boyle: (rapidly). I was jus’ tellin’ Mr. Bentham that the whole counthry’s in a state o’ chassis.
Mary: I’m sure you’re frettin’, da, whether it is or no.
Mrs. Boyle: With all our churches an’ religions, the worl’s not a bit the betther.
Boyle: (with a commanding gesture). Tay!
[Mary and Mrs. Boyle dispense the tea.]
Mrs. Boyle: An’ Irelan’s takin’ a leaf out o’ the worl’s buk; when we got the makin’ of our own laws I thought we’d never stop to look behind us, but instead of that we never stopped to look before us! If the people ud folley up their religion betther there’d be a betther chance for us — what do you think, Mr. Bentham?
Bentham: I’m afraid I can’t venture to express an opinion on that point, Mrs. Boyle; dogma has no attraction for me.
Mrs. Boyle: I forgot you didn’t hold with us: what’s this you said you were?
Bentham: A Theosophist, Mrs. Boyle.
Mrs. Boyle: An’ what in the name o’ God’s a Theosophist?
Boyle: A Theosophist, Juno, ‘s a — tell her, Mr. Bentham, tell her.
Bentham: It’s hard to explain in a few words : Theosophy’s founded on The Vedas, the religious books of the East. Its central theme is the existence of an all-pervading Spirit — the Life-Breath. Nothing really exists but this one Universal Life-Breath. And whatever even seems to exist separately from this Life-Breath, doesn’t really exist at all. It is all vital force in man, in all animals, and in all vegetation. This Life-Breath is called the Prawna.
Mrs. Boyle: The Prawna! What a comical name!
Boyle: Prawna; yis, the Prawna. (Blowing gently through his lips) That’s the Prawna!
Mrs. Boyle: Whist, whist, Jack.
Bentham: The happiness of man depends upon his sympathy with this Spirit. Men who have reached a high state of excellence are called Yogi. Some men become Yogi in a short time, it may take others millions of years.
Boyle: Yogi! I seen hundhreds of them in the streets o’ San Francisco.
Bentham: It is said by these Yogi that if we practise certain mental exercises we would have powers denied to others — for instance, the faculty of seeing things that happen miles and miles away.
Mrs. Boyle: I wouldn’t care to meddle with that sort o’ belief; it’s a very curious religion, altogether.
Boyle: What’s curious about it? Isn’t all religions curious? — if they weren’t, you wouldn’t get any one to believe them. But religions is passin’ away — they’ve had their day like everything else. Take the real Dublin people, f’rinstance: they know more about Charlie Chaplin an’ Tommy Mix than they do about SS. Peter an’ Paul!
Mrs. Boyle: You don’t believe in ghosts, Mr. Bentham?
Mary: Don’t you know he doesn’t, mother?
Bentham: I don’t know that, Mary. Scientists are beginning to think that what we call ghosts are sometimes seen by person of a certain nature. They say that sensational actions, such as the killing of a person, demand great energy, and that energy lingers in the place where the action occurred. People may live in the place and see nothing, when someone may come along whose personality has some peculiar connection with the energy of the place, and, in a flash, the person sees the whole affair.
Johnny: (rising swiftly, pale and affected). What sort o’ talk is this to be goin’ on with? Is there nothin’ betther to be talkin’ about but the killin’ o’ people? My God, isn’t it bad enough for these things to happen without talkin’ about them! [He hurriedly goes into the room on left.
Bentham: Oh, I’m very sorry, Mrs. Boyle; I never thought.. .
Mrs. Boyle: (apologetically). Never mind, Mr. Bentham, he’s very touchy.
[A frightened scream is heard from Johnny inside.]
Mrs. Boyle: Mother of God, what’s that? [He rushes out again, his face pale, his lips twitching, his limbs trembling.]
Johnny: Shut the door, shut the door, quick, for God’s sake! Great God, have mercy on me! Blessed Mother o’ God shelter me, shelter your son!
Mrs. Boyle: (catching him in her arms). What’s wrong with you? What ails you? Sit down, sit down, here, on the bed — there now — there now.
Mary: Johnny, Johnny, what ails you?
Johnny: I seen him, I seen him — kneelin’ in front o’ the statue — merciful Jesus, have pity on me!
Mrs. Boyle: Get him a glass o’ whisky — quick, man, an’ don’t stand gawkin’.
[Boyle gets the whisky.]
Johnny: Sit here, sit here, mother — between me an’ the door.
Mrs. Boyle: I’ll sit beside you as long as you like, only tell me what was it came across you at all?
Johnny: I seen him — I seen Robbie Tancred kneelin’ down before the statue — an’ the red light shinin’ on him — an’ when I went in — he turned an’ looked at me — an’ I seen the woun’s bleedin’ in his breast — Oh, why did he look at me like that? — it wasn’t my fault that he was done in — Mother o’ God, keep him away from me!
Mrs. Boyle: There, there, child, you’ve imagined it all. There was nothin’ there at all — it was the red light you seen, an’ the talk we had put all the rest into your head. Here, dhrink, more o’ this — it’ll do you good — An’, now, stretch yourself down on the bed for a little. (To Boyle) Go in, Jack, an’ show him it was only in his own head it was.
Boyle: (making no move). E-e-e-eh; it’s all nonsense; it was only a shadda he saw.
Mary: Mother o’ God, he made me heart lep!
Bentham: It was simply due to an overwrought imagination — we all get that way at times.
Mrs. Boyle: There, dear, lie down in the bed, an’ I’ll put the quilt across you — e-e-e-eh, that’s it — you’ll be as right as the mail in a few minutes.
Johnny: Mother, go into the room an’ see if the light’s lightin’ before the statue.
Mrs. Boyle: (to Boyle). Jack, run in an’ see if the light’s lightin’ before the statue.
Boyle: (to Mary). Mary, slip in an’ see if the light’s lightin’ before the statue. [Mary hesitates to go in.]
Bentham: It’s all right; Mary, I’ll go. [He goes into the room, remains for a few moments, and returns.
Bentham: Everything’s just as it was — the light burning bravely before the statue. Boyle: Of course; I knew it was all nonsense.
[A knock at the door.]
Boyle: (going to open the door). E-e-e-e-eh. [He opens it, and Joxer, followed by Mrs. Madigan, enters. Mrs. Madigan is a strong, dapper little woman of about forty-five; her face is almost always a widespread smile of complacency. She is a woman who, in manner at least, can mourn with them that mourn, and rejoice with them that do rejoice. When she is feeling comfortable, she is inclined to be reminiscent; when others say anything, or following a statement made by herself, she has a habit of putting her head a little to one side, and nodding it rapidly several times in succession, like a bird pecking at a hard berry. Indeed, she has a good deal of the bird in her, but the bird instinct is by no means a melodious one. She is ignorant, vulgar and forward, but her heart is generous withal. For instance, she would help the neighbor’s sick child; she would probably kill the child, but her intention would be to cure it; she would be more at home helping a drayman to lift a fallen horse. She is dressed in a rather soiled grey dress and a vivid purple blouse; in her hair is a huge comb, ornamented with huge coloured beads. She enters with a gliding step, beaming smile and nodding head. Boyle receives them effusively.]
Boyle: Come on in, Mrs. Madigan; come on in; I was afraid you weren’t comin’ – (Slyly) There’s some people able to dhress, ay, Joxer?
Joxer: Fair as the blossoms that bloom in the May, an’ sweet as the scent of the new-mown hay. — Ah, well she may wear them.
Mrs. Madigan: (Looking at Mary). I know some as are as sweet as the blossoms that bloom in the May — oh, no names, no pack dhrill!
Boyle: An’ now I’ll inthroduce the pair o’ yous to Mary’s intended: Mr. Bentham, this is Mrs. Madigan, an oul’ back-parlour neighbour, that, if she could help it at all, ud never see a body shuk!
Bentham: (rising, and tentatively shaking the hand of Mrs. Madigan). I’m sure, it’s a great pleasure to know you, Mrs. Madigan.
Mrs. Madigan: An’ I’m goin’ to tell you, Mr. Bentham, you’re goin’ to get as nice a bit o’ skirt in Mary, there, as ever you seen in your puff. Not like some of the dhressed-up dolls that’s knockin’ about lookin’ for men when it’s a skelpin’ they want. I remember, as well as I remember yestherday, the day she was born — of a Tuesday, the 25th o’ June, in the year 1901, at thirty-three minutes past wan in the day be Foley’s clock, the pub at the corner o’ the street. A cowld day it was too, for the season o’ the year, an’ I remember sayin’ to Joxer, there, who I met comin’ up th’ stairs, that the new arrival in Boyle’s ud grow up a hardy chiselur if it lived, an’ that she’d be somethin’ one o’ these days that nobody suspected, an’ so signs on it, here she is to-day, goin’ to be married to a young man lookin’ as if he’d be fit to commensurate in any position in life it ud please God to call him!
Boyle: (effusively). Sit down, Mrs. Madigan, sit down, me oul’ sport. This is Joxer Daly, Past Chief Ranger of the Dear Little Shamrock Branch of the Irish National Foresters, an oul’ front-top neighbour, that never despaired, even in the darkest days of Ireland’s sorra.
Joxer: Nil desperandum, Captain, nil desperandum.
Boyle: Sit down, Joxer, sit down. The two of us was ofen in a tight corner.
Mrs. Boyle: Ay, in Foley’s snug!
Joxer: An’ we kem out of it flyin’, we kem out of it flyin’, Captain.
Boyle: An’ now for a dhrink — I know yous won’t refuse an oul’ friend.
Mrs. Madigan: Is Johnny not well, Mrs…
Mrs. Boyle: (warningly). S-s-s-sh.
Mrs. Madigan: Oh, the poor darlin’.
Boyle: Well, Mrs. Madigan, is it tea or what?
Mrs. Madigan: Well, speakin’ for meself, I jus’ had me tea a minute ago, an’ I’m afraid to dhrink any more — I’m never the same when I dhrink too much tay. Thanks, all the same, Mr. Boyle.
Boyle: Well, what about a bottle o’ stout or a dhrop o’ whisky?
Mrs. Madigan: A bottle o’ stout ud be a little too heavy for me stummock afther me tay — A-a-a-ah, I’ll thry the ball o’ malt.
[Boyle prepares the whisky.]
Mrs. Madigan: There’s nothin’ like a ball o’ malt occasional like — too much of it isn’t good. (To Boyle, who is adding water) Ah, God, Johnny, don’t put too much wather on it! (She drinks). I suppose yous’ll be lavin’ this place.
Boyle: I’m looking for a place near the sea; I’d like the place that you might say was me cradle, to be me grave as well. The sea is always callin’ me.
Joxer: She is callin’, callin’, callin’, in the win’ an’ on the sea.
Boyle: Another dhrop o’ whisky, Mrs. Madigan?
Mrs. Madigan: Well, now, it ud be hard to refuse seein’ the suspicious times that’s in it.
Boyle: (with a commanding gesture). Song! — Juno — Mary — Home to Our Mountains!
Mrs. Madigan: (enthusiastically). Hear, hear!
Joxer: Oh, tha’s a darlin’ song, a daarlin’ song!
Mary: (bashfully). Ah no, da; I’m not in a singin’ humour.
Mrs. Madigan: Gawn with you, child, an’ you only goin’ to be married; I remember as well as I remember yestherday, — it was on a lovely August evenin’, exactly, accordin’ to date, fifteen years ago, come the Tuesday folleyin’ the nex’ that’s comin’ on, when me own man — the Lord be good to him — an’ me was sittin’ shy together in a doty little nook on a counthry road, adjacent to The Stiles. ‘That’ll scratch your lovely, little white neck,’ says he, ketchin’ hould of a danglin’ bramble branch, holdin’ clusters of the lovliest flowers you ever seen, an’ breakin’ it off, so that his arm fell, accidental like, roun’ me waist, an’ as I felt it tightenin’, an’ tightenin’, an’ tightenin’, I thought me buzzom was every minute goin’ to burst out into a roystherin’ song about ‘The little green leaves that were shakin’ on the threes, The gallivantin’ buttherflies, an’ buzzin’ o’ the bees! ‘
Boyle: Ordher for the song!
Juno: Come on, Mary — we’ll do our best. [Juno and Mary stand up, and choosing a suitable position, sing simply ‘Home to Our Mountains’. [They bow to the company and return to their places.
Boyle: (emotionally, at the end of song). Lull — me — to — rest!
Joxer: (clapping his hands). Bravo, bravo! Darlin’ girulls, darlin’ girulls!
Mrs. Madigan: Juno, I never seen you in betther form.
Bentham: Very nicely rendered indeed.
Mrs. Madigan: A noble call, a noble call!
Mrs. Boyle: What about yourself, Mrs. Madigan?
[After some coaxing, Mrs. Madigan rises, and in a quavering voice, sings the following verse]:
If I were a blackbird I’d whistle and sing;
I’d follow the ship that my thrue love was in;
An’ on the top riggin’, I’d there build me nest,
An’ at night I would sleep on me Willie’s white breast! [Becoming husky, amid applause, she sits down.]
Mrs. Madigan: Ah, me voice is too husky now, Juno; though I remember the time when Maisie Madigan could sing like a nightingale at matin’ time. I remember as well as I remember yestherday, at a party given to celebrate the comin’ of the first chiselur to Annie an’ Benny Jimeson — who was the barber, yous may remember, in Henrietta Street, that, afther Easter Week, hung out a green, white an’ orange pole an’ then, when the Tans started their Jazz dancin’, whipped it in agen, an’ stuck out a red, white an’ blue wan instead, givin’ as an excuse that a barber’s pole was strictly non-political — singin’ ‘An’ You’ll Remember Me’ with the top notes quiverin’ in a dead hush of pethrified attention, folleyed be a clappin’ o’ han’s that shuk the tumblers on the table, an’ capped by Jimeson, the barber, sayin’ that it was the best rendherin’ of ‘You’ll Remember Me’ he ever heard in his natural!
Boyle: (peremptorily). Ordher for Joxer’s song!
Joxer: Ah no, I couldn’t; don’t ass me, Captain.
Boyle: Joxer’s song, Joxer’s song — give us wan of your shut-eyed wans.
[Joxer settles himself in his chair; takes a drink; clears his throat; solemnly closes his eyes, and begins to sing in a very querulous voice]:
She is far from the lan’ where her young hero sleeps,
An’ lovers around her are sighing,
An’ lovers around her are sighin’ — sighin’ — sighin’… [A pause].
Boyle: (imitating Joxer). And lovers around her are sighing! What’s the use of thryin’ to sing the song if you don’t know it?
Mary: Thry another one, Mr. Daly — maybe you’d be more fortunate.
Mrs. Madigan: Gawn, Joxer; thry another wan.
Joxer: (starting again).
I have heard the mavis singin’ his love song to the morn;
I have seen the dew-dhrop clingin’ to the rose jus’ newly born;
but — but – (frantically) To the rose jus’ newly born — newly born — born.
Johnny: Mother, put on the gramophone, for God’s sake, an’ stop Joxer’s bawlin’.
Boyle: (commandingly). Gramophone! — I hate to see fellas thryin’ to do what they’re not able to do. [Boyle arranges the gramophone, and is about to start it, when voices are heard of persons descending the stairs.]
Mrs. Boyle: (warningly). Whisht, Jack, don’t put it on, don’t put it on yet; this must be poor Mrs. Tancred comin’ down to go to the hospital — I forgot all about them bringin’ the body to the church to-night. Open the door, Mary, an’ give them a bit o’ light.
[Mary opens the door, and Mrs. Tancred—very old woman, obviously shaken by the death of her son — appears, accompanied by several neighbours. The first few phrases are spoken before they appear.]
First Neighbour: It’s a sad journey we’re goin’ on, but God’s good, an’ the Republicans won’t be always down.
Mrs. Tancred: Ah, what good is that to me now? Whether they’re up or down — it won’t bring me darlin’ boy from the grave.
Mrs. Boyle: Come in an’ have a hot cup o’ tay, Mrs. Tancred, before you go.
Mrs. Tancred: Ah, I can take nothin’ now, Mrs. Boyle — I won’t be long afther him.
Firsteighbour: Still an’ all, he died a noble death, an’ we’ll bury him like a king.
Mrs. Tancred: An’ I’ll go on livin’ like a pauper. Ah, what’s the pains I suffered bringin’ him into the world to carry him to his cradle, to the pains I’m sufferin’ now, carryin’ him out o’ the world to bring him to his grave!
Mary: It would be better for you not to go at all, Mrs. Tancred, but to stay at home beside the fire with some o’ the neighbours.
Mrs. Tancred: I seen the first of him, an’ I’ll see the last of him.
Mrs. Boyle: You’d want a shawl, Mrs. Tancred; it’s a cowld night, an’ the win’s blowin’ sharp.
Mrs. Madigan: (rushing out). I’ve a shawl above.
Mrs. Tancred: Me home is gone now; he was me only child, an’ to think that he was lyin’ for a whole night stretched out on the side of a lonely counthry lane, with his head, his darlin’ head, that I ofen kissed an’ fondled, half hidden in the wather of a runnin’ brook. An’ I’m told he was the leadher of the ambush where me nex’ door neighbour, Mrs. Mannin’, lost her Free State soldier son. An’ now here’s the two of us oul’ women, standin’ one on each side of a scales o’ sorra, balanced be the bodies of our two dead darlin’ sons. (Mrs. Madigan returns, and wraps a shawl around her.) God bless you, Mrs. Madigan — (She moves slowly towards the door) Mother o’ God, Mother o’ God, have pity on the pair of us! — O Blessed Virgin, where were you when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets, when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets! — Sacred Heart of the Crucified Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone — an’ give us hearts o’ flesh! — Take away this murdherin’ hate — an’ give us Thine own eternal love! [They pass out of the room].
Mrs. Boyle: (explanatorily to Bentham). That was Mrs. Tancred of the two-pair back; her son was found, e’er yestherday, lyin’ out beyant Finglas riddled with bullets. A Die-hard he was, be all accounts. He was a nice quiet boy, but lattherly he went to hell, with his Republic first, an’ his Republic last an’ Republic over all. He often took tea with us here, in the oul’ days, an’ Johnny, there, an’ him used to be always together.
Johnny: Am I always to be havin’ to tell you that he was no friend o’ mine? I never cared for him, an’ he could never stick me. It’s not because he was Commandant of the Battalion that I was Quarther-Masther of, that we were friends.
Mrs. Boyle: He’s gone now — the Lord be good to him! God help his poor oul’ creature of a mother, for no matther whose friend or enemy he was, he was her poor son.
Bentham: The whole thing is terrible, Mrs. Boyle; but the only way to deal with a mad dog is to destroy him.
Mrs. Boyle: An’ to think of me forgettin’ about him bein’ brought to the church to-night, an’ we singin’ an’ all, but it was well we hadn’t the gramophone goin’, anyhow.
Boyle: Even if we had aself. We’ve nothin’ to do with these things, one way or t’other. That’s the Government’s business, an’ let them do what we’re payin’ them for doin’.
Mrs. Boyle: I’d like to know how a body’s not to mind these things; look at the way they’re afther leavin’ the people in this very house. Hasn’t the whole house, nearly, been massacreed? There’s young Dougherty’s husband with his leg off; Mrs. Travers that had her son blew up be a mine in Inchegeela, in Co. Cork; Mrs. Mannin’ that lost wan of her sons in an ambush a few weeks ago, an’ now, poor Mrs. Tancred’s only child gone west with his body made a collandher of. Sure, if it’s not our business, I don’t know whose business it is.
Boyle: Here, there, that’s enough about them things; they don’t affect us, an’ we needn’t give a damn. If they want a wake, well, let them have a wake. When I was a sailor, I was always resigned to meet with a wathery grave; an’ if they want to be soldiers, well, there’s no use o’ them squealin’ when they meet a soldier’s fate.
Joxer: Let me like a soldier fall — me breast expandin’ to th’ ball!
Mrs. Boyle: In wan way, she deserves all she got; for lately, she let th’ Die-hards make an open house of th’ place; an’ for th’ last couple of months, either when th’ sun was risin’ or when th’ sun was settin’, you had C.I.D. men burstin’ into your room, assin’ you where were you born, where were you christened, where were you married, an’ where would you be buried!
Johnny: For God’s sake, let us have no more o’ this talk.
Mrs. Madigan: What about Mr. Boyle’s song before we start th’ gramophone?
Mary: [getting her hat, and putting it on]. Mother, Charlie and I are goin’ out for a little sthroll.
Mrs. Boyle: All right, darlin’.
Bentham: [Going out with Mary]. We won’t be long away, Mrs. Boyle.
Mrs. Madigan: Gwan, Captain, gwan.
Boyle: E-e-e-e-eh, I’d want to have a few more jars in me, before I’d be in fettle for singin’.
Joxer: Give us that poem you writ t’other day. (To the rest) Aw, it’s a darlin’ poem, a daarlin’ poem.
Mrs. Boyle: God bless us, is he startin’ to write poetry!
Boyle: (rising to his feet). E-e-e-e-eh. [He recites in an emotional, consequential manner the following verses]:
Shawn an’ I were friends, sir, to me he was all in all.
His work was very heavy and his wages were very small.
None betther on th’ beach as Docker, I’ll go bail,
‘Tis now I’m feelin’ lonely, for to-day he lies in jail.
He was not what some call pious — seldom at church or prayer;
For the greatest scoundrels I know, sir, goes every Sunday there.
Fond of his pint — well, rather, but hated the Boss by creed
But never refused a copper to comfort a pal in need. E-e-e-e-eh. [He sits down.]
Mrs. Madigan: Grand, grand; you should folly that up, you should folly that up.
Joxer: It’s a daarlin’ poem!
Boyle: (delightedly). E-e-e-e-eh.
Johnny: Are yous goin’ to put on th’ gramophone to-night, or are yous not?
Mrs. Boyle: Gwan, Jack, put on a record.
Mrs. Madigan: Gwan, Captain, gwan.
Boyle: Well, yous’ll want to keep a dead silence.
[He sets a record, starts the machine, and it begins to play “If you’re Irish, come into the Parlour”. As the tune is in full blare the door is suddenly opened by a brisk, little bald-headed man, dressed circumspectly in a black suit; He glares fiercely at all in the room; he is ‘Needle Nugent’, a tailor. He carries his hat in his hand.]
Nugent: (loudly, above the noise of the gramophone).
Are yous goin’ to have that thing bawlin’ an’ the funeral of Mrs. Tancred’s son passin’ the house? Have none of yous any respect for the Irish people’s National regard for the dead? [Boyle stops the gramophone.
Mrs. Boyle: Maybe, Needle Nugent, it’s nearly time we had a little less respect for the dead, an’ a little more regard for the livin’.
Mrs. Madigan: We don’t want you, Mr. Nugent, to teach us what we learned at our mother’s knee. You don’t look yourself as if you were dyin’ of grief; if y’ass Maisie Madigan anything, I’d call you a real thrue Die-hard an’ live-soft Republican, attendin’ Republican funerals in the day, an’ stoppin’ up half the night makin’ suits for the Civic Guards!
[Persons are heard running down to the street, some saying, “Here it is, here it is.” Nugent withdraws, and the rest, except Johnny, go to the window looking into the street, and look out. Sounds of a crowd coming nearer are heard; portion are singing]:
To Jesus’ Heart all burning
With fervent love for men,
My heart with fondest yearning
Shall raise its joyful strain.
While ages course along,
Blest be with loudest song
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
By every heart and tongue.
Mrs. Boyle: Here’s the hearse, here’s the hearse!
Boyle: There’s t’oul’ mother walkin’ behin’ the coffin.
Mrs. Madigan: You can hardly see the coffin with the wreaths.
Joxer: Oh, it’s a darlin’ funeral, a daarlin’ funeral!
Mrs. Madigan: W’d have a betther view from the street.
Boyle: Yes — this place ud give you a crick in your neck. [They leave the room, and go down. Johnny sit smoothly by the fire. A young man enters; he looks at Johnny for a moment.]
The Young Man: Quarther-Masther Boyle.
Johnny: (with a start ). The Mobilizer!
The Young Man: You’re not at the funeral?
Johnny: I’m not well.
The Young Man: I’m glad I’ve found you; you were stoppin’ at your aunt’s; I called there but you’d gone. I’ve to give you an ordher to attend a Battalion Staff meetin’ the night afther to-morrow.
The Young Man: I don’t know; you’re to meet me at the Pillar at eight o’clock; then we’re to go to a place I’ll be told of to-night; there we’ll meet a mothor that’ll bring us to the meeting. They think you might be able to know somethin’ about them that gave the bend where Commandment Tancred was shelterin’.
Johnny: I’m not goin’, then. I know nothing about Tancred.
The Young Man: (at the door). You’d betther come for your own sake — remember your oath.
I won’t go! Haven’t I done enough for Ireland! I’ve lost me arm, an’ me hip’s desthroyed so that I’ll never be able to walk right agen! Good God, haven’t I done enough for Ireland?
The Young Man: Boyle, no man can do enough for Ireland! [He goes.
[Faintly in the distance the crowd is heard saying]:
Crowd: Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee; Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed, etc.
- This song became popular through the patriotic singer Gerard Crofts in the internment camps set up after the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Moriarity is a member of the D.M.P. (Dublin Metropolitan Police). ↵
- Five shillings. ↵
- A line from the ballad “The Wearing of the Green.” James Napper Tandy (1740-1803) was an Irish patriot. ↵
- A good fellow. ↵
- Saggart Aroon. Gaelic. “Dear priest.” Joxer is probably referring to a variant of a patriotic poem by John Banim (1798-1842), “Soggarth Aroon”. ↵
- Story of Ireland (1867). A popular history by A.M. Sullivan (1830-1874), one of the founders of the Home Rule Party. Boyle confuses the author with Irish-American boxer John L. Sullivan (1858-1918). ↵
- Gaelic. “My baby.” ↵
- Government securities. ↵
- One who aims at the knowledge of God by means of intuition and contemplation. The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 by Mme Helena Blavatsky. ↵
- Charles Chaplin (1889-1977). London-born Hollywood comic actor. ↵
- Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix (1880-1940).The first major star of Hollywood westerns. ↵
- Never despair (Latin). ↵
- Aria from Verdi’s Il Trovatore (1853). ↵
- A traditional Irish song about a woman jilted by a sailor. ↵
- Black and Tans. A force of temporary constables recruited in Britain in 1919 to fight the Irish Republican Army. Their nickname referred to the colour of their khaki uniforms. They became infamous for their attacks on civilians. ↵
- Song composed by Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852), best-known for “The Minstrel Boy.” ↵
- A popular love song (ca. 1850), by Charles Jefferys (1805-1867). ↵
- Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the Irish Free State was an armed, plain-clothed counter-insurgency police unit that operated during the Irish Civil War. ↵
- Irish police force. ↵