Tramp (crosses himself). God rest his soul.

Nora (pouring him out a glass of whisky). Maybe that would do you better than the milk of the sweetest cow in County Wicklow.

Tramp. The Almighty God reward you and may it be to your good health.

He drinks.

Nora (giving him a pipe and tobacco). I’ve no pipes saving his own, stranger, but they’re sweet pipes to smoke.

Tramp. Thank you kindly, lady of the house.

Nora. Sit down now, stranger, and be taking your rest.

Tramp (filling a pipe and looking about the room). I’ve walked a great way through the world, lady of the house, and seen great wonders, but I never seen a wake till this day with fine spirits, and good tobacco, and the best of pipes, and no one to taste them but a woman only.

Nora. Didn’t you hear me say it was only after dying on me he was when the sun went down, and how would I go out into the glen and tell the neighbours, and I a lone woman with no house near me?

Tramp (drinking). There’s no offence, lady of the house?

Nora. No offence in life, stranger. How would the like of you, passing in the dark night, know the lonesome way I was with no house near me at all?

Tramp (sitting down). I knew rightly. (He lights his pipe, so that there is a sharp light beneath his haggard face.) And I was thinking, and I coming in through the door, that it’s many a lone woman would be afeard of the like of me in the dark night, in a place wouldn’t be as lonesome as this place, where there aren’t two living souls would see the little light you have shining from the glass.

Nora (slowly). I’m thinking many would be afeard, but I never knew what way I’d be afeard of beggar or bishop or any man of you at all … (she looks towards the window and lowers her voice.) It’s other things than the like of you, stranger, would make a person afeard.

Tramp (looking round with a half-shudder). It is surely, God help us all!

Nora (looking at him for a moment with curiosity). You’re saying that, stranger, as if you were easy afeard.

Tramp (speaking mournfully). Is it myself, lady of the house, that does be walking round in the long nights, and crossing the hills when the fog is on them, the time a little stick would seem as big as your arm, and a rabbit as big as a bay horse, and a stack of turf as big as a towering church in the city of Dublin? If myself was easy afeard, I’m telling you, it’s long ago I’d have been locked into the Richmond Asylum, or maybe have run up into the back hills with nothing on me but an old shirt, and been eaten by the crows the like of Patch Darcy—the Lord have mercy on him—in the year that’s gone.

Nora (with interest). You knew Darcy?

Tramp. Wasn’t I the last one heard his living voice in the whole world?

Nora. There were great stories of what was heard at that time, but would anyone believe the things they do be saying in the glen?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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