The Whale and the Grasshopper
When Standish McNeill started talking to his friend Felix ODowd as they walked at a leisurely pace towards the town of Castle-gregory on a June morning, what he said was: The world is a wonderful place when you come to think about it, an Ireland is a wonderful place an so is America, an though there are lots of places like each other theres no place like Ballysantamalo. When theres not sunshine there, theres moonshine, an the handsomest women in the world live there, an nowhere else except in Ireland or the churchyards could you find such decent people.
Decency, said Felix, when youre poor is extravagance, and bad example when youre rich.
And why? said Standish.
Well, said Felix, because the poor imitate the rich an the rich give to the poor an when the poor give to each other they have nothing of their own.
Thats communism youre talking, said Standish, an that always comes from education an enlightenment. Sure if the poor werent dacent theyd be rich an if the rich were dacent theyd be poor an if every one had a conscience theyd be less millionaires.
Tis a poor bird that cant pick for himself.
But suppose a bird had a broken wing an couldnt fly to where the pickings were? said Felix.
Well, then bring the pickings to him. That would be charity.
But charity is decency and wisdom is holding your tongue when you dont know what youre talking about.
If the people of Ballysantamalo are so decent, how is it that there are so many bachelors there? Do you think it right to have all the young women worrying their heads off reading trashy novels an doin all sorts of silly things like fixin their hair in a way that was never intended by nature an doin so for years an years an havin nothin in the end but the trouble of it all.
Well, tis hard blamin the young men, because every young lady you meet looks better to you than the last until you meet the next, an so you go on to another until youre so old that on one would marry you at all unless you had lots of money, a bad liver, an a shaky heart.
An old man without any sense, lots of money, a bad liver, an a shaky heart can always get a young lady to marry him, said Felix, though rheumatics, gout, an a wooden leg are just as good in such a case.
Every bit, said Standish, but theres nothin like a weak constitution, a cold climate, an a tendency to pneumonia.
Old men are quare, said Felix.
They are, said Standish, an if they were all only half as wise as they think they are then theyd be only young fools in the world. I dont wonder a bit at the suffragettes. An a time will come when we wont know men from women unless some one tells us so.
Wisha, tis my belief that there will be a great reaction some day, because women will never be able to stand the strain of doin what they please without encountering opposition. When a man falls in love he falls into trouble likewise, an when a women isnt in trouble you may be sure that theres something wrong with her.
Well, said Standish, I think we will leave the women where the devil left St. Peter
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