Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)

Juno and the Paycock: ACT III

Sean O'Casey

ACT III

The same as Act II. It is about half-past six on a November evening; a bright fire burns in the grate; Mary, dressed to go out, is sitting on a chair by the fire, leaning forward, her hands under her chin, her elbows on her knees. A look of dejection, mingled with uncertain anxiety, is on her face. A lamp, turned low, is lighting on the table. The votive light under the picture of the Virgin gleams more redly than ever. Mrs. Boyle is putting on her hat and coat. It is two months later.

     Mrs. Boyle: An’ has Bentham never even written to you since — not one line for the past month?
     Mary: (tonelessly). Not even a line, mother.
     Mrs. Boyle: That’s very curious — What came between the two of yous at all? To leave you so sudden, an’ yous so great together — To go away t’ England, an’ not to even leave you his address — The way he was always bringin’ you to dances, I thought he was mad afther you. Are you sure you said nothin’ to him?
     Mary: No, mother — at least nothing that could possibly explain his givin’ me up.
     Mrs. Boyle: You know you’re a bit hasty at times, Mary, an’ say things you shouldn’t say.
     Mary: I never said to him what I shouldn’t say, I’m sure of that.
     Mrs. Boyle: How are you sure of it?
     Mary: Because I love him with all my heart and soul, mother. Why, I don’t know; I often thought to myself that he wasn’t the man poor Jerry was, but I couldn’t help loving him all the same.
     Mrs. Boyle: But you shouldn’t be frettin’ the way you are; when a woman loses a man, she never knows what she’s afther losin’, to be sure, but, then, she never knows what she’s afther gainin’, either. You’re not the one girl of a month ago — you look like one pinin’ away. It’s long ago I had a right to bring you to the doctor, instead of waitin’ till to-night.
     Mary: There’s no necessity, really, mother, to go to the doctor; nothing serious is wrong with me — I’m run down and disappointed, that’s all.
     Mrs. Boyle: I’ll not wait another minute; I don’t like the look of you at all — I’m afraid we made a mistake in throwin’ over poor Jerry — He’d have been betther for you than that Bentham.
     Mary: Mother, the best man for a woman is the one for whom she has the most love, and Charlie had it all.
     Mrs. Boyle: Well, there’s one thing to be said for him — he couldn’t have been thinkin’ of the money, or he wouldn’t ha’ left you — it must ha’ been somethin’ else.
     Mary: (wearily). I don’t know — I don’t know, mother, — only I think…
     Mrs. Boyle: What d’ye think?
     Mary: I imagine — he thought — we weren’t — good enough for him.
     Mrs. Boyle: An’ what was he himself, only a school teacher? Though I don’t blame him for fightin’ shy of people like that Joxer fella an’ that oul’ Madigan wan — nice sort o’ people for your father to inthroduce to a man like Mr. Bentham. You might have told me all about this before now, Mary; I don’t know why you like to hide everything from your mother; you knew Bentham, an’ I’d ha’ known nothin’ about it if it hadn’t bin for the Will; an’ it was only to-day, afther long coaxin’, that you let out that he’s left you.
     Mary: It would have been useless to tell you — you wouldn’t understand.
     Mrs. Boyle: (hurt). Maybe not — Maybe I wouldn’t understand — Well, we’ll be off now. [She goes over to the door left, and speaks to Boyle inside.
     Mrs. Boyle: We’re goin’ now to the doctor’s. Are you goin’ to get up this evenin’?
     Boyle: (from inside). The pains in me legs is terrible! It’s me should be poppin’ off to the doctor instead o’ Mary, the way I feel.
     Mrs. Boyle: Sorra mend you![1] A nice way you were in last night — carried in in a frog’s march, dead to the world. It that’s the way you’ll go on when you get the money it’ll be the grave for you, an asylum for me and the Poorhouse for Johnny.
     Boyle: I thought you were goin’?
     Mrs. Boyle: That’s what has you as you are — you can’t bear to be spoken to. Knowin’ the way we are, up to our ears in debt, it’s a wondher you wouldn’t ha’ got up to go to th’ solicitor’s an’ see if we could ha’ gotten a little o’ the money even.
     Boyle: (shouting). I can’t be goin’ up there night, noon an’ mornin’, can I? He can’t give the money till he gets it, can he? I can’t get blood out of a turnip, can I?
     Mrs. Boyle: It’s nearly two months since we heard of the Will, an’ the money seems as far off as ever — I suppose you know we owe twenty pouns to oul’ Murphy?
     Boyle: I’ve a faint recollection of you tellin’ me that before.
     Mrs. Boyle: Well, you’ll go over to the shop yourself for the things in future — I’ll face him no more.
     Boyle: I thought you said you were goin’?
     Mrs. Boyle: I’m goin’ now; come on, Mary.
     Boyle: Ey, Juno, ey!
     Mrs. Boyle: Well, what d’ye want now?
     Boyle: Is there e’er a bottle o’ stout left?
     Mrs. Boyle: There’s two o’ them here still.
     Boyle: Show us in one o’ them an’ leave t’other there till I get up. An’ throw us in the paper that’s on the table, an’ the bottle o’ Sloan’s Liniment that’s in the drawer.
     Mrs. Boyle: (getting the liniment and the stout). What paper is it you want — the Messenger?[2]
     Boyle: Messenger! The News o’ the World!

[Mrs. Boyle brings in the things asked for, and comes out again.]
     Mrs. Boyle: (at door). Mind the candle, now, an’ don’t burn the house over our heads. I left t’other bottle o’ stout on the table. [She puts bottle of stout on table. She goes out with Mary. A cork is heard popping inside.

[A pause; then outside the door is heard the voice of Joxer lilting softly: ‘Me pipe I’ll smoke, as I dhrive me moke…are you…there…Mor…ee.,..ar…i…teee!’ A gentle knock is heard, and after a pause the door opens, and Joxer, followed by Nugent, enters.]

     Joxer: Be God, they must be all out; I was thinkin’ there was somethin’ up when he didn’t answer the signal. We seen Juno an’ Mary goin’, but I didn’t see him, an’ it’s very seldom he escapes me.
     Nugent: He’s not goin’ to escape me — he’s not goin’ to be let go to the fair altogether.
     Joxer: Sure, the house couldn’t hould them lately; an’ he goin’ about like a mastherpiece of the Free State counthry; forgettin’ their friends; forgettin’ God — wouldn’t even lift his hat passin’ a chapel! Sure they were bound to get a dhrop! An’ you really think there’s no money comin’ to him afther all?
     Nugent: Not as much as a red rex, man; I’ve been a bit anxious this long time over me money, an’ I went up to the solicitor’s to find our all I could — ah, man, they were goin’ to throw me down the stairs. They toul’ me that the oul’ cock himself had the stairs worn away comin’ up afther it, an’ they black in the face tellin’ him he’d get nothin’. Some way or another that the Will is writ he won’t be entitled to get as much as a make!
     Joxer: Ah, I thought there was somethin’ curious about the whole thing; I’ve bin havin’ sthrange dhreams for the last couple o’ weeks. An’ I notice that that Bentham fella doesn’t be comin’ here now — there must be somethin’ on the mat there too. Anyhow, who, in the name o’ God, ud leave anythin’ to that oul’ bummer? Sure it ud be unnatural. An’ the way Juno an’ him’s been throwin’ their weight about for the last few months! Ah, him that goes a borrowin’ goes a sorrowin’!
     Nugent: Well, he’s not goin’ to throw his weight about in the suit I made for him much longer. I’m tellin’ you seven pouns aren’t to be found growin’ on the bushes these days.
     Joxer: An’ there isn’t hardly a neighbour in the whole street that hasn’t lent him money on the strength of what he was goin’ to get, but they’re after backing the wrong horse. Wasn’t it a mercy o’ God that I’d nothin’ to give him! The softy I am, you know, I’d ha’ lent him me last juice! I must have had somebody’s good prayers. Ah, afther all, an honest man’s the noblest work o’ God!

[Boyle coughs inside. ]
     Joxer: Whisht, damn it, he must be inside in bed.
     Nugent: Inside o’ bed or outside of it, he’s goin’ to pay me for that suit, or give it back — he’ll not climb up my back as easily as he thinks.
     Joxer: Gwan in at wanst, man, an’ get it off him, an’ don’t be a fool.
     Nugent: (going to door left, opening it and looking in). Ah, don’t disturb yourself, Mr. Boyle; I hope you’re not sick?
     Boyle: Th’ oul’ legs, Mr. Nugent, the oul’ legs.
     Nugent: I just called over to see if you could let me have anything off the suit?
     Boyle: E-e-e-eh, how much is this it is?
     Nugent: It’s the same as it was at the start — seven pouns.
     Boyle: I’m glad you kem, Mr. Nugent; I want a good heavy top-coat — Irish frieze, if you have it. How much would a top-coat like that be, now?
     Nugent: About six pouns.
     Boyle: Six pouns — six an’ seven is thirteen — that’ll be thirteen pouns I’ll owe you.

[Joxer slips the bottle of stout that is on the table into his pocket. Nugent rushes into the room, and returns with suit on his arm; he pauses at the door.]
     Nugent: You’ll owe me no thirteen pouns. Maybe you think you’re betther able to owe it than pay it!
     Boyle: (frantically). Here, come back to hell ower that — where’re you goin’ with them clothes o’ mine?
     Nugent: Where am I goin’ with them clothes o’ yours? Well, I like your damn cheek!
     Boyle: Here, what am I goin’ to dhress meself in when I’m goin’ out?
     Nugent: What do I care what you dhress yourself in! You can put yourself in a bolsther cover, if you like.

[He goes towards the other door, followed by Joxer.]
     Joxer: What’ll he dhress himself in! Gentleman Jack an’ his frieze coat! [They go out.]
     Boyle: (inside). Ey, Nugent; ey, Mr. Nugent, Mr. Nugent!

[After a pause, Boyle enters hastily, buttoning the braces of his moleskin trousers; his coat and vest are on his arm; he throws these on a chair and hurries to the door on right.]

     Joxer: (meeting him at the door). What’s up, what’s wrong, Captain?
     Boyle: Nugent’s been here an’ took away me suit — the only things I had to go out in!
     Joxer: Tuk your suit — for God’s sake! An’ what were you doin’ while he was takin’ them?
     Boyle: I was in bed when he stole in like a thief in the night, an’ before I knew even what he was thinkin’ of, he whipped them from the chair an’ was off like a redshank!
     Joxer: An’ what, in the name o’ God, did he do that for?
     Boyle: What did he do it for? How the hell do I know what he done it for? — jealousy an’ spite, I suppose.
     Joxer: Did he not say what he done it for?
     Boyle: Amn’t I afther tellin’ you that he had them whipped up an’ was gone before I could open me mouth?
     Joxer: That was a very sudden thing to do; there mus’ be somethin’ behin’ it. Did he hear anythin’, I wondher?
     Boyle: Did he hear anythin’? — you talk very queer, Joxer — what could he hear?
     Joxer: About you not gettin’ the money, in some way or t’other?
     Boyle: An’ what ud prevent me from gettin’ th’ money?
     Joxer: That’s jus’ what I was thinkin’ — what ud prevent you from gettin’ the money — nothin’, as far as I can see.
     Boyle: (looking round for bottle of stout, with an exclamation). Aw, holy God!
     Joxer: What’s up, Jack?
     Boyle: He must have afther lifted the bottle o’ stout that Juno left on the table!
     Joxer: (horrified). Ah no, ah no; he wouldn’t be afther doin’ that now.
     Boyle: An’ who done it then? Juno left a bottle o’ stout here, an’ it’s gone — it didn’t walk, did it?
     Joxer: Oh, that’s shockin’; ah, man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn![3]
     Mrs. Madigan: (appearing at the door). I hope I’m not disturbin’ you in any discussion on your forthcomin’ legacy — if I may use the word — an’ that you’ll let me have a barny for a minute or two with you, Mr. Boyle.
     Boyle: (uneasily). To be sure, Mrs. Madigan — an oul’ friend’s always welcome.
     Joxer: Come in the evenin’, come in th’ mornin’; come when you’re assed, or come without warnin’, Mrs. Madigan.
     Boyle: Sit down, Mrs. Madigan.
     Mrs. Madigan: (ominously). Th’ few words I have to say can be said standin’. Puttin’ aside all formularies, I suppose you remember me lendin’ you some time ago three pouns that I raised on blankets an’ furniture in me uncle’s?
     Boyle: I remember it well. I have it recorded in me book — three pouns five shillings from Maisie Madigan, raised on articles pawned; an’, item: fourpence, given to make up the price of a pint, on th’ principle that no bird ever flew on wan wing; all to be repaid at par, when the ship comes home.
     Mrs. Madigan: Well, ever since I shoved in the blankets I’ve been perishing with th’ cowld, an’ I’ve decided, if I’ll be too hot in th’ next’ world aself, I’m not goin’ to be too cowld in this wan; an’ consequently, I want me three pouns, if you please.
     Boyle: This is a very sudden demand, Mrs. Madigan, an’ can’t be met; but I’m willin’ to give you a receipt in full, in full.
     Mrs. Madigan: Come on, out with th’ money, an’ don’t be jack-actin’.
     Boyle: You can’t get blood out of a turnip, can you?
     Mrs. Madigan: (rushing over and shaking him). Gimme me money, y’oul’ reprobate, or I’ll shake the worth of it out of you!
     Boyle: Ey, houl’ on, there; houl’ on, there! You’ll wait for your money now, me lassie!
     Mrs. Madigan: (looking around the room and seeing the gramophone). I’ll wait for it, will I? Well, I’ll not wait long; if I can’t get th’ cash, I’ll get th’ worth of it.[She catches up the gramophone.
     Boyle: Ey, ey, there, wher’r you goin’ with that?
     Mrs. Madigan: I’m goin’ to th’ pawn to get me three quid five shillings; I’ll brin’ you th’ ticket, an’ then you can do what you like, me bucko.
     Boyle: You can’t touch that, you can’t touch that! It’s not my property, an’ it’s not ped for yet!
     Mrs. Madigan: So much th’ better. It’ll be an ayse to me conscience, for I’m takin’ what doesn’t belong to you. You’re not goin’ to be swankin’ it like a paycock with Maisie Madigan’s money — I’ll pull some o’ th’ gorgeous feathers out o’ your tail! [She goes off with the gramophone.
     Boyle: What’s th’ world comin’ to at all? I ass you, Joxer Daly, is there any morality left anywhere?
     Joxer: I wouldn’t ha’ believed it, only I seen it with me own two eyes. I didn’t think Maisie Madigan was that sort of woman; she has either a sup taken, or she’s heard somethin’.
     Boyle: Heard somethin’ — about what, if it’s not any harm to ass you?
     Joxer: She must ha’ heard some rumour or other that you weren’t goin’ to get th’ money.
     Boyle: Who says I’m not goin’ to get th’ money?
     Joxer: Sure, I don’t know — I was only sayin’.
     Boyle: Only sayin’ what?
     Joxer: Nothin’.
     Boyle: You were goin’ to say somethin’ — don’t be a twisther.
     Joxer: (angrily). Who’s a twisther?
     Boyle: Why don’t you speak your mind, then?
     Joxer: You never twisted yourself — no, you wouldn’t know how!
     Boyle: Did you ever know me to twist; did you ever know me to twist?
     Joxer: (fiercely). Did you ever do anythin’ else! Sure, you can’t believe a word that comes out o’ your mouth.
     Boyle: Here, get out, ower o’ this; I always knew you were a prognosticator an’ a procrastinator!
     Joxer: (Going out as Johnny comes in). The anchor’s weighed, farewell, ree…mem…ber… me. Jacky Boyle, Esquire, infernal rogue an’ damned liar.
     Johnny: Joxer an’ you at it agen? — when are you goin’ to have a little respect for yourself, an’ not be always makin’ a show of us all?
     Boyle: Are you goin’ to lecture me now?
     Johnny: Is mother back from the doctor yet, with Mary?

[Mrs. Boyle enters; it is apparent from the serious look on her face that something has happened. She takes off her hat and coat without a word and puts them by. She then sits down near the fire, and there is a few moments’ pause.]

     Boyle: Well, what did the doctor say about Mary?
     Mrs. Boyle: (in an earnest manner and with suppressed agitation). Sit down here, Jack; I’ve something to say to you — about Mary.
     Boyle: (awed by her manner). About — Mary?
     Mrs. Boyle: Close that door there and sit down here.
     Boyle: (closing the door). More trouble in our native land, is it? (He sits down.) Well, what is it?
     Mrs. Boyle: It’s about Mary.
     Boyle: Well, what about Mary — there’s nothin’ wrong with her, is there?
     Mrs. Boyle: I’m sorry to say there’s a gradle wrong with her.
     Boyle: A gradle wrong with her! (Peevishly) First Johnny an’ now Mary; is the whole house goin’ to become an hospital! It’s not consumption, is it?
     Mrs. Boyle: No — it’s not consumption — it’s worse.
     Johnny: Worse! Well, we’ll have to get her into some place ower this, there’s no one here to mind her.
     Mrs. Boyle: We’ll all have to mind her now. You might as well know now, Johnny, as another time. (To Boyle). D’ye know what the doctor said to me about her, Jack?
     Boyle: How ud I know — I wasn’t there, was I?
     Mrs. Boyle: He told me to get her married at wanst.
     Boyle: Married at wanst! An’ why did he say the like o’ that?
     Mrs. Boyle: Because Mary’s goin’ to have a baby in a short time.
     Boyle: Goin’ to have a baby! — my God, what’ll Bentham say when he hears that?
     Mrs. Boyle: Are you blind, man, that you can’t see that it was Bentham that has done this wrong to her?
     Boyle: (passionately). Then he’ll marry her, he’ll have to marry her!
     Mrs. Boyle: You know he’s gone to England, an’ God knows where he is now.
     Boyle: I’ll folly him, I’ll folly him, an’ bring him back, an’ make him do her justice. The scoundrel, I might ha’ known what he was, with his yogees an’ his prawna!
     Mrs. Boyle: We’ll have to keep it quiet till we see what we can do.
     Boyle: Oh, isn’t this a nice thing to come on top o’ me, an’ the state I’m in! A pretty show I’ll be to Joxer an’ to that oul’ wan, Madigan! Amn’t I afther goin’ through enough without havin’ to go through this!
     Mrs. Boyle: What you an’ I’ll have to to through’ll be nothin’ to what poor Mary’ll have to go through; for you an’ me is middlin’ old, an’ most of our years is spent; but Mary’ll have maybe forty years to face an’ handle, an’ every wan of them’ll be tainted with a bitter memory.
     Boyle: Where is she? Where is she till I tell her off? I’m tellin’ you when I’m done with her she’ll be a sorry girl!
     Mrs. Boyle: I left her in me sister’s till I came to speak to you. You’ll say nothin’ to her, Jack; ever since she left school she’s earned her livin’, an’ your fatherly care never throubled the poor girl.
     Boyle: Gwan, take her part agen her father! But I’ll let you see whether I’ll say nothin’ to her or no! Her an’ her readin’! That’s more o’ th’ blasted nonsense that has the house fallin’ down on top of us! What did th’ likes of her, born in a tenement house, want with readin’? Her readin’s afther bringin’ her to a nice pass — oh, it’s madnin’, madnin’, madnin’.
     Mrs. Boyle: When she comes back say nothin’ to her, Jack, or she’ll leave this place.
     Boyle: Leave this place! Ay, she’ll leave this place, an’ quick too!
     Mrs. Boyle: If Mary goes, I’ll go with her.
     Boyle: Well, go with her! Well, go, th’ pair o’ yous! I lived before I seen yous, an’ I can live when yous are gone. Isn’t this a nice thing to come rollin’ in on top o’ me afther all your prayin’ to St. Anthony an’ The Little Flower! An’ she’s a Child o’ Mary,[4] too — I wonder what’ll the nuns think of her now? An’ it’ll be bellows’d all over th’ disthrict before you could say Jack Robinson; an’ whenever I’m seen they’ll whisper, “That’s th’ father of Mary Boyle that had th’ kid be th’ swank she used to go with; d’ye know, d’ye know?” To be sure they’ll know — more about it than I will meself!
     Johnny: She should be dhriven out o’ th’ house she’s brought disgrace on!
     Mrs. Boyle: Hush, you, Johnny. We needn’t let it be bellows’d all over the place; all we’ve got to do is to leave this place quietly an’ go somewhere where we’re not known an’ nobody’ll be th’ wiser.
     Boyle: You’re talkin’ like a two-year-oul’, woman. Where’ll we get a place ou’ o’ this? — places aren’t that easily got.
     Mrs. Boyle: But, Jack, when we get the money…
     Boyle: Money — what money?
     Mrs. Boyle: Why, oul’ Ellison’s money, of course.
     Boyle: There’s no money comin’ from oul’ Ellison, or any one else. Since you’ve heard of wan throuble, you might as well hear of another. There’s no money comin’ to us at all — the Will’s a wash-out!
     Mrs. Boyle: What are you sayin’, man — no money?
     Johnny: How could it be a wash-out?
     Boyle: The boyo that’s afther doin’ it to Mary done it to me as well. The thick made out the Will wrong; he said in th’ Will, only first cousin an’ second cousin, instead of mentionin’ our names, an’ now any one that thinks he’s a first cousin or second cousin t’oul’ Ellison can claim the money as well as me, an’ they’re springin’ up in hundreds, an’ comin’ from America an’ Australia, thinkin’ to get their whack out of it, while all the time the lawyers is gobblin’ it up, till there’s not as much as ud buy a stockin’ for your lovely daughter’s baby!
     Mrs. Boyle: I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it!
     Johnny: Why did you say nothin’ about this before?
     Mrs. Boyle: You’re not serious, Jack; you’re not serious!
     Boyle: I’m tellin’ you the scholar, Bentham, made a banjax o’ th’ Will; instead o’ sayin’, ‘th’ rest o’ me property to be divided between me first cousin, Jack Boyle, an’ me second cousin, Mick Finnegan, o’ Santhry’, he writ down only, ‘me first an’ second cousins’, an’ the world an’ his wife are afther th’ property now.
     Mrs. Boyle: Now I know why Bentham left poor Mary in th’ lurch; I can see it all now — oh, is there not even a middlin’ honest man left in th’ world?
     Johnny: An’ you let us run into debt, an’ you borreyed money from everybody to fill yourself with beer! An’ now you tell us the whole thing’s a washout! Oh, if it’s thrue, I’m done with you, for you’re worse than me sisther Mary!
     Boyle: You hole your tongue, d’ye hear? I’ll not take any lip from you. Go an’ get Bentham if you want satisfaction for all that’s afther happenin’ us.
     Johnny: I won’t hole me tongue, I won’t hole me tongue! I’ll tell you what I think of you, father an’ all as you are — you…
     Mrs. Boyle: Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, for God’s sake, be quiet!
     Johnny: I’ll not be quiet, I’ll not be quiet; he’s a nice father, isn’t he? Is it any wondher Mary went asthray, when…
     Mrs. Boyle: Johnny, Johnny, for my sake be quiet — for your mother’s sake!
     Boyle: I’m goin’ out now to have a few dhrinks with th’ last few makes I have, an’ tell that lassie o’ yours not to be here when I come back; for if I lay me eyes on her, I’ll lay me hans on her, an’ if I lay me hans on her, I won’t be accountable for me actions!
     Johnny: Take care somebody doesn’t lay his hans on you — y’oul’…
     Mrs. Boyle: Johnny, Johnny!
     Boyle: (at door, about to go out). Oh, a nice son, an’ a nicer daughter, I have. (Calling loudly up stairs). Joxer, Joxer, are you there?
     Joxer: (from a distance). I’m here, More…ee…aar…i…tee!
     Boyle: I’m goin’ down to Foley’s — are you comin’?
     Joxer: Come with you? With that sweet call me heart is stirred; I’m only waiting for the word, an’ I’ll be with you, like a bird!

[Boyle and Joxer pass the door going out.]
     Johnny: (throwing himself on the bed). I’ve a nice sisther, an’ a nice father, there’s no bettin’ on it. I wish to God a bullet or a bomb had whipped me ou’ o’ this long ago! Not one o’ yous, not one o’ yous, have any thought for me!
     Mrs. Boyle: (with passionate remonstrance). If you don’t whisht, Johnny, you’ll drive me mad. Who has kep’ th’ home together for the past few years — only me? An’ who’ll have to bear th’ biggest part o’ this throuble but me? — but whinin’ an’ whingin’ isn’t goin’ to do any good.
     Johnny: You’re to blame yourself for a gradle of it — givin’ him his own way in everything, an’ never assin’ to check him, no matther what he done. Why didn’t you look afther th’ money? why…

[There is a knock at the door; Mrs. Boyle opens it; Johnny rises on his elbows to look and listen; two men enter.]
     First Man: We’ve been sent up be th’ Manager of the Hibernian Furnishing Co., Mrs. Boyle, to take back the furniture that was got a while ago.
     Mrs. Boyle: Yous’ll touch nothin’ here — how do I know who yous are?
     First Man: (showing a paper). There’s the ordher, ma’am. (Reading) A chest o’ drawers, a table, wan easy an’ two ordinary chairs; wan mirror; wan chestherfield divan, an’ a wardrobe an’ two vases. (To his comrade) Come on, Bill, it’s afther knockin’-off time already.
     Johnny: For God’s sake, mother, run down to Foley’s an’ bring father back, or we’ll be left without a stick.

[The men carry out the table.]
     Mrs. Boyle: What good would it be? — you heard what he said before he went out.
     Johnny: Can’t you thry? He ought to be here, an’ the like of this goin’ on.

[Mrs. Boyle puts a shawl around her, as Mary enters.]
     Mary: What’s up, mother? I met men carryin’ away the table, an’ everybody’s talking about us not gettin’ the money after all.
     Mrs. Boyle: Everythin’s gone wrong, Mary, everythin’. We’re not gettin’ a penny out o’ the Will, not a penny — I’ll tell you all when I come back; I’m goin’ for your father. [She runs out.     Johnny: (to Mary, who has sat down by the fire). It’s a wondher you’re not ashamed to show your face here, afther what has happened.

[Jerry enters slowly; there is a look of earnest hope on his face. He looks at Mary for a few moments.]
     Jerry: (softly). Mary! [Mary does not answer.]
     Jerry: Mary, I want to speak to you for a few moments, may I? [Mary remains silent; Johnny goes slowly into room on left.]
     Jerry: Your mother has told me everything, Mary, and I have come to you — I have come to tell you, Mary, that my love for you is greater and deeper than ever…
     Mary: (with a sob). Oh, Jerry, Jerry, say no more; all that is over now; anything like that is impossible now!
     Jerry: Impossible? Why do you talk like that, Mary?
     Mary: After all that has happened.
     Jerry: What does it matter what has happened? We are young enough to be able to forget all those things. (He catches her hand). Mary, Mary, I am pleading for your love. With Labour, Mary, humanity is above everything; we are the Leaders in the fight for a new life. I want to forget Bentham, I want to forget that you left me — even for a while.
     Mary: Oh, Jerry, Jerry, you haven’t the bitter word of scorn for me after all.
     Jerry: (passionately). Scorn! I love you, love you, Mary!
     Mary: (rising, and looking him in the eyes). Even though…
     Jerry: Even though you threw me over for another man; even though you gave me many a bitter word!
     Mary: Yes, yes, I know; but you love me even though — even though — I’m — goin’ — goin’ – (He looks at her questioningly, and fear gathers in his eyes.) Ah, I was thinkin’ so — You don’t know everything!
     Jerry: (poignantly). Surely to God, Mary, you don’t mean that — that — that…
     Mary: Now you know all, Jerry; now you know all!
     Jerry: My God, Mary, have you fallen as low as that?
     Mary: Yes, Jerry, as you say, I have fallen as low as that.
     Jerry: I didn’t mean it that way, Mary — it came on me so sudden, that I didn’t mind what I was sayin’ — I never expected this — your mother never told me — I’m sorry — God knows, I’m sorry for you, Mary.
     Mary: Let us say no more, Jerry; I don’t blame you for thinkin’ it’s terrible — I suppose it is — Everybody’ll think the same — it’s only as I expected — your humanity is just as narrow as the humanity of the others.
     Jerry: I’m sorry, all the same — I shouldn’t have troubled you — I wouldn’t if I’d known — If I can do anything for you — Mary — I will. [He turns to go, and halts at the door.]
     Mary: Do you remember, Jerry, the verses you read when you gave the lecture in the Socialist Rooms some time ago, on Humanity’s Strife with Nature?
     Jerry: The verses — no; I don’t remember them.
     Mary: I do. They’re runnin’ in me head now –

An’ we felt the power that fashion’d
All the lovely things we saw,
That created all the murmur
Of an everlasting law,
Was a hand of force an’ beauty,
With an eagle’s tearin’ claw.

Then we saw our globe of beauty
Was an ugly thing as well,
A hymn divine whose chorus
Was an agonizin’ yell;
Like the story of a demon,
That an angel had to tell;

Like a glowin’ picture by a
Hand unsteady, brought to ruin;
Like her craters, if their deadness
Could give life unto the moon;
Like the agonizing horror
Of a violin out of tune.

[There is a pause, and Devine goes slowly out.]
     Johnny: (returning). Is he gone?
     Mary: Yes. [The two men re-enter.]
     First Man: We can’t wait any longer for t’oul’ fella — sorry, Miss, but we have to live as well as th’ nex’ man. [They carry out some things.]
     Johnny: Oh, isn’t this terrible! — I suppose you told him everything — couldn’t you have waited for a few days? — he’d have stopped th’ takin’ of the things, if you’d kep’ your mouth shut. Are you burnin’ to tell every one of the shame you’ve brought on us?
     Mary: (snatching up her hat and coat). Oh, this is unbearable! [She rushes out.
     First Man: (re-entering). We’ll take the chest o’ drawers next — it’s the heaviest.

[The votive light flickers for a moment, and goes out.]
     Johnny: (in a cry of fear). Mother o’ God, the light’s afther goin’ out!
     First Man: You put the win’ up me the way you bawled that time. The oil’s all gone, that’s all.
     Johnny: (with an agonizing cry). Mother o’ God, there’s a shot I’m afther gettin’!
     First Man: What’s wrong with you, man? Is it a fit you’re takin’?
     Johnny: I’m afther feelin’ a pain in me breast, like the tearin’ by of a bullet!
     First Man: He’s goin’ mad — it’s a wondher they’d leave a chap like that here by himself.

[Two Irregulars enter swiftly; they carry revolvers; one goes over to Johhny; the other covers the two furniture men.]
     First Irregular: (to the men, quietly and incisively). Who are you? — what are yous doin’ here? — quick!

[The two men turn their faces to the wall, with their hands up.]
     First Man: Removin’ furniture that’s not paid for.
     Irregular: Get over to the other end of the room an’ turn your faces to the wall — quick!
     Second Irregular: Come on, Sean Boyle, you’re wanted; some of us have a word to say to you.
     Johnny: I’m sick, I can’t — what do you want with me?
     Second Irregular: Come on, come on; we’ve a distance to go, an’ haven’t much time — come on.
     Johnny: I’m an oul’ comrade — yous wouldn’t shoot an oul’ comrade.
     Second Irregular: Poor Tancred was an oul’ comrade o’ yours, but you didn’t think o’ that when you gave him away to the gang that sent him to his grave. But we’ve no time to waste; come on — here, Dermot, ketch his arm. (To Johnny) Have you your beads?
     Johnny: Me beads! Why do you ass me that, why do you ass me that?
     Second Irregular: Go on, go on, march!
     Johnny: Are yous goin’ to do in a comrade? — look at me arm, I lost it for Ireland.
     Second Irregular: Commandant Tancred lost his life for Ireland.
     Johnny: Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me! Mother o’ God, pray for me — be with me now in the agonies o’ death! — Hail Mary, full o’ grace — the Lord is — with Thee.

[They drag out Johnny Boyle, and the curtain falls. When it rises again the most of the furniture is gone. Mary and Mrs. Boyle, one on each side, are sitting in a darkened room, by the fire; it is an hour later.]

     Mrs. Boyle: I’ll not wait much longer — what did they bring him away in the mothor for? Nugent says he thinks they had guns — is me throubles never goin’ to be over? — If anything ud happen to poor Johnny, I think I’d lose me mind — I’ll go to the Police Station, surely they ought to be able to do somethin’.

[Below is heard the sound of voices.]
     Mrs. Boyle: Whisht, is that something? Maybe, it’s your father, though when I left him in Foley’s he was hardly able to life his head. Whisht!

[A knock at the door, and the voice of Mrs. Madigan, speaking very softly]:
     Mrs. Madigan: Mrs. Boyle, Mrs. Boyle. [Mrs. Boyle opens the door.
     Mrs. Madigan: Oh, Mrs. Boyle, God an’ His Blessed Mother be with you this night!
     Mrs. Boyle: (calmly). What is it, Mrs. Madigan? It’s Johnny — something about Johnny.
     Mrs. Madigan: God send it’s not, God send it’s not Johnny!
     Mrs. Boyle: Don’t keep me waitin’, Mrs. Madigan; I’ve gone through so much lately that I feel able for anything.
     Mrs. Madigan: Two polismen below wantin’ you.
     Mrs. Boyle: Wantin’ me; an’ why do they want me?
     Mrs. Madigan: Some poor fella’s been found, an’ they think it’s, it’s…
     Mrs. Boyle: Johnny, Johnny!
     Mary: (with her arms round her mother). Oh, mother, mother, me poor, darlin’ mother.
     Mrs. Boyle: Hush, hush, darlin’; you’ll shortly have your own throuble to bear. (To Mrs. Madigan) An’ why do the polis think it’s Johnny, Mrs. Madigan?
     Mrs. Madigan: Because one o’ the doctors knew him when he was attendin’ with his poor arm.
     Mrs. Boyle: Oh, it’s thrue, then; it’s Johnny, it’s me son, me own son!
     Mary: Oh, it’s thrue, it’s thrue what Jerry Devine says — there isn’t a God, there isn’t a God; if there was He wouldn’t let these things happen!
     Mrs. Boyle: Mary, you mustn’t say them things. We’ll want all the help we can get from God an’ His Blessed Mother now! These things have nothin’ to do with the Will o’ God. Ah, what can God do agen the stupidity o’ men!
     Mrs. Madigan: The polis want you to go with them to the hospital to see the poor body — they’re waitin’ below.
     Mrs. Boyle: We’ll go. Come, Mary, an’ we’ll never come back here agen. Let your father furrage for himself now; I’ve done all I could an’ it was all no use — he’ll be hopeless till the end of his days. I’ve got a little room in me sisther’s where we’ll stop till your throuble is over, an’ then we’ll work together for the sake of the baby.
     Mary: My poor little child that’ll have no father!
     Mrs. Boyle: It’ll have what’s far betther — it’ll have two mothers.
     A Rough Voice shouting from belowAre yous goin’ to keep us waitin’ for yous all night?
     Mrs. Madigan: (going to the door, and shouting down). Take you hour, there, take your hour! If yous are in such a hurry, skip off, then, for nobody wants you here — if they did yous wouldn’t be found. For you’re the same as yous were undher the British Government — never where yous are wanted! As far as I can see, the Polis as Polis, in this city, is Null an’ Void!
     Mrs. Boyle: We’ll go, Mary, we’ll go; you to see your poor dead brother, an’ me to see me poor dead son!
     Mary: I dhread it, mother, I dhread it!
     Mrs. Boyle: I forgot, Mary, I forgot; your poor oul’ selfish mother was only thinkin’ of herself. No, no, you mustn’t come — it wouldn’t be good for you. You go on to me sisther’s an’ I’ll face th’ ordeal meself. Maybe I didn’t feel sorry enough for Mrs. Tancred when her poor son was found as Johnny’s been found now — because he was a Diehard! Ah, why didn’t I remember that then he wasn’t a Diehard or a Stater, but only a poor dead son! It’s well I remember all that she said — an’ it’s my turn to say it now : What was the pain I suffered, Johnny, bringin’ you into the world to carry you to your cradle, to the pains I’ll suffer carryin’ you out o’ the world to bring you to your grave! Mother o’ God, Mother o’ God, have pity on us all! Blessed Virgin, where were you when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets, when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets? Sacred Heart o’ Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone, and give us hearts o’ flesh! Take away this murdherin’ hate, an’ give us Thine own eternal love! [They all go slowly out.

[There is a pause; then a sound of shuffling steps on the stairs outside. The door opens and Boyle and Joxer, both of them very drunk, enter.]
     Boyle: I’m able to go no farther — Two polis, ey — what were they doin’ here, I wondher? — Up to no good, anyhow — an Juno an’ that lovely daughter o’ mine with them. (Taking a sixpence from his pocket and looking at it) Wan single, solitary tanner left out of all I borreyed – (He lets it fall.) The last o’ the Mohicans — The blinds is down, Joxer, the blinds is down![5]
     Joxer: (walking unsteadily across the room, and anchoring at the bed). Put all — your throubles — in your oul’ kit-bag — an’ smile — smile — smile!
     Boyle: The counthry’ll have to steady itself — it’s goin’ — to hell — Where’r all — the chairs — gone to — steady itself, Joxer — Chairs’ll — have to — steady themselves — No matther — what any one may — say — Irelan’ sober — is Irelan’ — free.
     Joxer: (stretching himself on the bed). Chains — an’ — slaveree — that’s a darlin’ motto — a daaarlin’ — motto!
     Boyle: If th’ worst comes — to th’ worse — I can join a — flyin’ — column[6] — I done — me bit — in Easther Week — had no business — to — be — there — but Captain Boyle’s Captain Boyle!
     Joxer: Breathes there a man with soul — so — de…ad — this — me — o…wn, me nat…ive l…an’![7]
     Boyle: (subsiding into a sitting position on the floor). Commandant Kelly died — in them — arms — Joxer — Tell me Volunteer[8] Butties — says he — that — I died for — Irelan’!
     Joxer: D’jever rade Willie — Reilly — an’ his own — Colleen — Bawn? It’s a darlin’ story, a daarlin’ story![9]
     Boyle: I’m telling you — Joxer — th’ whole worl’s — in a terr…ible state o’ — chassis!

CURTAIN

 


  1. Good enough for you.
  2. A Roman Catholic magazine.
  3. From the Robert Burns poem “Man was made to mourn: A Dirge” (1784).
  4. A member of a Roman Catholic confraternity devoted to the Virgin Mary.
  5. A reference to the custom of lowering the blinds when there has been a death in the house or when a funeral procession was passing the house. See the last line of Wilfred Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and D. H. Lawrence's “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter.”
  6. Units of mobile IRA personnel, engaged in guerrilla tactics.
  7. From Sir Walter Scott “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” (1805).
  8. Irish Volunteer Army, established in 1913 by Irish nationalists.
  9. A popular story of 18th-century Catholic-Protestant love, Willy Reilly and His Dear Colleen Bawn by William Carleton (1855) a version of which was filmed in 1920.

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This work (Juno and the Paycock: ACT III by Sean O'Casey) is free of known copyright restrictions.

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