Julia Cahill's Curse

“And what has become of Margaret?”

“Ah, didn’t her mother send her to America as soon as the baby was born? Once a woman is wake here she has to go. Hadn’t Julia to go in the end, and she the only one that ever said she didn’t mind the priest?”

“Julia who?” said I.

“Julia Cahill.”

The name struck my fancy, and I asked the driver to tell me her story.

“Wasn’t it Father Madden who had her put out of the parish, but she put her curse on it, and it’s on it to this day.”

“Do you believe in curses?”

“Bedad I do, sir. It’s a terrible thing to put a curse on a man, and the curse that Julia put on Father Madden’s parish was a bad one, the divil a worse. The sun was up at the time, and she on the hilltop raising both her hands. And the curse she put on the parish was that every year a roof must fall in and a family go to America. That was the curse, your honor, and every word of it has come true. You’ll see for yourself as soon as we cross the mearing.”

“And what has become of Julia’s baby?”

“I never heard she had one, sir.”

He flicked his horse pensively with his whip, and it seemed to me that the disbelief I had expressed in the power of the curse disinclined him for further conversation.

“But,” I said, “who is Julia Cahill, and how did she get the power to put a curse upon the village?”

“Didn’t she go into the mountains every night to meet the fairies, and who else could’ve given her the power to put a curse upon the village?”

“But she couldn’t walk so far in one evening.”

“Them that’s in league with the fairies can walk that far and much farther in an evening, your honor. A shepherd saw her; and you’ll see the ruins of the cabins for yourself as soon as we cross the mearing, and I’ll show you the cabin of the blind woman that Julia lived with before she went away.”

“And how long is it since she went?”

“About twenty year, and there hasn’t been a girl the like of her in these parts since. I was only a gossoon at the time, but I’ve heard tell she was as tall as I’m myself, and as straight as a poplar. She walked with a little swing in her walk, so that all the boys used to be looking after her, and she had fine black eyes, sir, and she was nearly always laughing. Father Madden had just come to the parish; and there was courting in these parts then, for aren’t we the same as other people—we’d like to go out with a girl well enough if it was the custom of the country. Father Madden put down the ball alley because he said the boys stayed there instead of going into Mass, and he put down the cross-road dances because he said dancing was the cause of many a bastard, and he wanted none in his parish. Now there was no dancer like Julia; the boys used to gather about to see her dance, and whoever walked with her under the hedges in the summer could never think about another woman. The village was cracked about her. There was fighting, so I suppose the priest was right: he had to get rid of her. But I think he mightn’t have been as hard on her as he was.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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