Act I

A village roadside after nightfall. A fire of sticks is burning near the ditch a little to the right. Michael is working beside it. In the background, on the left, a sort of tent and ragged clothes drying on the hedge. On the right a chapel-gate.

Sarah Casey (coming in on right, eagerly). We’ll see his reverence this place, Michael Byrne, and he passing backward to his house to-night.

Michael (grimly). That’ll be a sacred and a sainted joy!

Sarah (sharply). It’ll be small joy for yourself if you aren’t ready with my wedding ring. (She goes over to him.) Is it near done this time, or what way is it at all?

Michael. A poor way only, Sarah Casey, for it’s the divil’s job making a ring, and you’ll be having my hands destroyed in a short while the way I’ll not be able to make a tin can at all maybe at the dawn of day.

Sarah (sitting down beside him and throwing sticks on the fire). If it’s the divil’s job, let you mind it, and leave your speeches that would choke a fool.

Michael (slowly and glumly). And it’s you’ll go talking of fools, Sarah Casey, when no man did ever hear a lying story even of your like unto this mortal day. You to be going beside me a great while, and rearing a lot of them, and then to be setting off with your talk of getting married, and your driving me to it, and I not asking it at all.

Sarah turns her back to him and arranges something in the ditch.

Michael (angrily). Can’t you speak a word when I’m asking what is it ails you since the moon did change?

Sarah (musingly). I’m thinking there isn’t anything ails me, Michael Byrne; but the spring-time is a queer time, and it’s queer thoughts maybe I do think at whiles.

Michael. It’s hard set you’d be to think queerer than welcome, Sarah Casey; but what will you gain dragging me to the priest this night, I’m saying, when it’s new thoughts you’ll be thinking at the dawn of day?

Sarah (teasingly). It’s at the dawn of day I do be thinking I’d have a right to be going off to the rich tinkers do be travelling from Tibradden to the Tara Hill; for it’d be a fine life to be driving with young Jaunting Jim, where there wouldn’t be any big hills to break the back of you, with walking up and walking down.

Michael (with dismay). It’s the like of that you do be thinking!

Sarah. The like of that, Michael Byrne, when there is a bit of sun in it, and a kind air, and a great smell coming from the thorn trees is above your head.

Michael (looks at her for a moment with horror, and then hands her the ring). Will that fit you now?

Sarah (trying it on). It’s making it tight you are, and the edges sharp on the tin.

Michael (looking at it carefully). It’s the fat of your own finger, Sarah Casey; and isn’t it a mad thing I’m saying again that you’d be asking marriage of me, or making a talk of going away from me, and you thriving and getting your good health by the grace of the Almighty God?

Sarah (giving it back to him). Fix it now, and it’ll do, if you’re wary you don’t squeeze it again.

Michael (moodily, working again). It’s easy saying be wary; there’s many things easy said, Sarah Casey, you’d wonder a fool even would be saying at all. (He starts violently.) The divil mend you, I’m scalded again!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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