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Two plays: Harvest; The Clancy name online

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him. He'd never say a word if you were kept at home for
a week sticking potatoes ; we wouldn't get the divil's
tearing we used to get from you. But the time they had
the poultry lectures at the school he made every girl in



30 Harvest

the place bring her mother, and he'd ate you if you
weren't taking notes with a pencil of what the woman
was saying.

Mildred. Good gracious !

LoRDAN {indignantly). He must be a queer sort of a
schoolmaster. He's a better right to be teaching Euclid
and algebra to boys after school hours than bothering
himself about hens and chickens. . . . Poultry lectures,
indeed ! Were you at school to-day, Maggie ?

Maggie. I was not, sir.
!" Bridget. How could she go and she wanted here ?
There's never a day passes that I haven't to step over and
see how things are getting on, but still and all — fool as
she is — they couldn't manage without her.

Lordan. Now, Bridget, how is the child to get any
knowledge at all ?

Bridget. Oh, faith, if it's knowledge she wants, I'm the
one to teach her.

Maggie. What a lot you know yourself.

Bridget. I know I'll have no impertinence out of you,
Maggie Hannigan. Take that saucy puss off you and hang
them clothes out on the line. {Maggie goes out with a
bundle of clothes.)

Mildred. Ah, the poor child !

Bridget. That one's very arch. You're taking too much
notice of her altogether.

Lordan. She's not a bad little thing, but I never could
make anything of her in school. She'd better make up
her mind to stay in Knockmalgloss all her life, she's fit for
nothing else.

Bridget. She's not fit for much here, then ! Look
at her leaving half the clothes after her. {Gathers up
two or three articles and goes out.)

Mildred. Isn't Bridget amusing ? I think she's simply
capital.

Lordan. Yes. . . . How queer and rough you must
find us all.

Mildred. Oh, but I love it ! It interests me so. And



Harvest 31

Mary, I was surprised when I met her. I thought she'd
be just a country girl with a thin veneer of civilisation,
and instead she's . . . she's . . . tell me about her,
Mr. Lordan!

LoRDAN. What can I tell you ? She's been away for
so long.

Mildred. But didn't she go to school to you ? Tell
me about her then. What sort of a girl was she ?

LoRDAN. Ah, I can tell you that, Mrs. Hurley; she
was the best scholar I ever had. That girl could learn
anything. I always said the Hurleys were a smart family,
but Mary was the smartest of them all. I wanted to get
her away to one of the convent schools in Dunmanway
or Bandon, or maybe up to Dublin, for I knew I couldn't
give her the teaching she wanted. Then I thought
maybe I could get her into the post office, or something
like that, but her father wouldn't hear of it. So she
stayed on getting knowledge and education from me, and
I lent her all the books I could and all that sort of thing,
but she got discontented at home.

Mildred. So in the end she went to service ?
LoRDAN. She did, in a fit of temper. She couldn't
stand the life here any longer. I didn't blame her.
Mrs. O'Mara offered her a place as servant to her sister
in England, and she went off on two days' notice. But
she didn't stay there long. I knew she wouldn't — a girl
like her that had maybe as good an education as her
mistress. It was something higher than a servant she was
educated for; and mark my words, Mrs. Hurley, we'll
find she's been doing great things away in England,
whatever she's been working at, or I'm very much
mistaken.

Mildred. Yes, I'm sure of it. . . . That meeting
to-day when she arrived was the most beautiful and
touching thing I have ever seen. The love between her
and her father is almost pathetic.

LoRDAN. Yes, they were always very fond of each other
. . . He kept her here against her will for a long time.



32 Harvest

Mildred. And yet she let three years pass without
sending him a letter. ... I wonder why ?

LoRDAN. You may be sure she was busy and working
hard. I suppose she half forgot him.

Mildred. Yes. . . . It's wonderful how country girls
get on nowadays, isn't it }

LoRDAN. Ah, if only I had known more, if only I
could have taught more ; but when I was educated, Mrs.
Hurley, it was a very poor education I got compared with
what they give the young men in the training colleges
to-day.

Mildred. Was your father a farmer ?

LoRDAN. Yes, Mrs. Hurley, in a wild, God-forsaken
spot back of the mountains. My mother died when I
was a year old, and there was only my father and my
uncle in the house. And every year I saw the loneliness
and the desolation of it making them queerer and
queerer. . , . My uncle took to drink, my father died
mad. I had cut myself away before that happened, but
do you wonder now why I want to get the children out
of Knockmalgloss ? This is a lonely place too, and Pve
seen things. . . . I've seen things I won't sadden you
by telling.

Mary comes in. She is a pretty girl, slight and delicate.

Mary. What are you both talking so earnestly about ?

LoRDAN (getting cheerful again). Well, we began with
you yourself. . . .

Mary. Me ?

LoRDAN. And I was going on to speak of education
generally.

Mary. Oh, you were always fond of that subject.

LoRDAN. Yes, and seeing you just now has put a great
idea into my head.

Mary. What is that .?

LoRDAN. Well, you know, I was just telling Mrs. Hurley
the same thing, I'm trying to get Kattie Hayes away to a
place in Dublin. There's a pretty stiff examination to
pass, and if she does get through, the salary is poor, and



Harvest 33

her prospects of getting on small. However, I didn't see
anything else I could do with the girl. But now, since Fve
seen you I've got a great idea.

Mildred. Well, Mr. Lordan ?

LoRDAN. I haven't heard yet, Mary, what exactly
you're doing in London, but I've no doubt at all you're
earning plenty of money.

Mary (sharply). How do you know that ?

LoRDAN. I've only to look at you, to look at your
clothes ; eh, Mrs. Hurley ?

Mildred. Yes.

Lordan. Well, you remember Kattie, Mary ?

Mary. Yes ; she was a very pretty child.

LoRDAN. She has grown up into a beautiful girl ;
indeed I might call her a young woman now. Well, my
idea is that we'll get her away to London.

Mary. To London ? . . . What good would that be ?

LoRDAN. Ah ! That's where I want you to help me.
I want you to try and get her into the same sort of place
as you're in. Now ! You'll do that, won't you ?

Mary. No, I don't think so.

Mildred. What ?

LoRDAN. Oh, come, Mary, the Hayes' were always
good friends with the Hurleys. It's a queer thing you
wouldn't give the girl a helping hand.

Mary {crossing towards inner room door). I don't think
I could help her.

LoRDAN. Why couldn't you ?

Mary. I don't like London. Why should she go to
London ?

LoRDAN. Oh, come, Mary.

Mildred. It's a question of taste ; she might like it
well enough.

Lordan. It would be a great chance for her. Come,
you will help her, won't you ?

Mary. I don't think so.

Mildred. What sort of a place are you in, in London ?

Mary. I'm a typist.

c



34 Harvest

LoRDAN. A typist ? I don't know very much about that
sort of work, but I'm sure . . .

Mary. Well, I do. {Tozvards him.) I'd rather see
Kattie Hayes walking the roads with tinkers, or dying in
the workhouse at Dunmanway, before I'd move my little
finger to bring her to London.

LoRDAN. My dear Mary ! Have you thought that . . .

Mary. I have thought. I've lived it. {She goes out
left into inner room.)

Mildred. How odd of her !

LoRDAN. I don't understand Mary. One would think
that after living in London and seeing the world she'd
like other girls to get the same chances. No, I don't
understand it.

Mildred. Tell me, Mr. Lordan, was she . . . was
she fond of ... of company, when you knew her ;
flighty and . . . and . . . fond of amusement ?

LoRDAN. She wasn't, she was a very quiet girl, Mrs.
Hurley ; a quiet, soft-spoken little thing.

Mildred. Hm ! . . .

Jack (jrom outside). Are you there, Mildred ?

Mildred. Yes.

Jack (appearing). Maurice and I want to speak . . .
oh . . . (breaks off as he sees Lordan. Maurice is
behind Jack.)

Lordan. I'll be off. Jack.

Jack. Don't go, Mr. Lordan, there's no hurry. I
wanted to have a word with Mildred, but it will do any
time. Don't hurry away.

Lordan. Ah, it's time I was getting along. . . .
Good-bye, Mrs. Hurley.

Mildred. Good-bye.

Lordan. Good-bye, Jack. (Goes out.)

]ack. Good-bye, sir. (Shuts the door and comes back.)

Mildred. You look dreadfully serious. Jack, what's
happened ?

Jack. You remember, Mildred, I told you last night
how mistaken I was about the farm, how instead of it



Harvest 35

being a thriving farm it was hampered with debts and a
mortgage.

Mildred. Yes ?

Jack. Well, since then, as you know, we have had that
fire, which makes things very serious.

Mildred. But Bridget says you'll get compensation,
and that the money . . .

Jack. Exactly. My father set fire to the buildings
himself in order to get compensation.

Mildred. Jack !

Jack. It's a nice thing, isn't it ?

Mildred. But . . . that's not . . . honest, is it ?

Jack. It's so flagrantly dishonest that I'm not
going to allow it to be done. But the farm is on
the brink of ruin, and — as Maurice says — it was the
expenses of my education which first forced them to
borrow money. So I have little or no right to criticise
their method of repaying themselves unless I can
suggest a better plan.

Mildred. I don't quite understand.

Jack. I mean that I look on myself as responsible for
the money that was spent on me, I feel I owe it to my
father. If I can repay it, well and good. If I can't, I
am in his debt and have no right to prevent him re-
paying himself by fair means or foul.

Mildred. But, Jack, we've no money, we can't . . ^

Jack. I want to know, Mildred, are you sincere in
what you said yesterday ; could you really come and live
on a farm ? We can repay father by giving up Dublin,
selling our furniture, realising everything, and coming to
work down here.

Mildred. Leaving Dublin altogether ?

Jack. Yes, for good and all. Mildred, I know it's an
awful lot to ask you to do, but it's to save father and
Maurice, to save the fa ily from disgrace. I can't bear
to think of them getting money on a lie. I know I and
the others have brought him to this and . . . and . . .
1 can't bear it.



36 Harvest

Maurice. Mind you, I'm not wanting Jack to come
down here. I don't care if he stops in Dublin all his life
and never sends us a pound of his money. I don't want
you to leave the shop and sell your furniture ; can't you
let usTgo on the way we were going. . . .

Jack. I will not, when it was leading you to dis-
honesty and lies. . . .

Maurice. You're a liar yourself.

Jack. I'm not.

Mildred. Hush, dear. You should be ashamed of
yourself, Maurice, to speak like that. . . . Yes, Jack, we
will give up Dublin, though that's all the thanks we get
for it. I meant every word I said yesterday ; I'd love to
be on a farm looking after the fowl and the dairy. And
Maurice will live to thank us yet.

Jack. You're a darling.

Mildred. Write at once and give notice to Mr.
Corrib, Jack. I suppose you'll have to stay with him a
month longer, and you must sell the furniture and try
and get a tenant for the house. I'll stay on down here.

Maurice. Can't you both go away up to Dublin,
sure. . . .

Jack. Shut up !

Mildred. Have you no sense of honesty ?

Maurice {sullenly, turning to go out). Well, 'twasn't I
set fire to the place anyhow. (Goes out.)

Jack. One thing, Mildred ; don't say a word to Mary
about this, about father setting fire to the place, I mean.
She worships him, and it would mean horrible dis-
illusionment.

Mildred. I understand.

Jack. We'll just say we've decided to stay on down
here, that is if you have quite decided. Remember it's
not too late to change your mind. Do you really,
honestly want to stay ?

Mildred, Yes, Jack, we'll stay. (He kisses her.)

Curtain.



ACT III

Scene— Ty^^ same as Act 11. Time— three weeks
latefy early morning.

Bridget is at work in the room over the fire. Enter by
the back door Mildred in a pink print dress with an apron
and her sleeves rolled up above her elbows. She throws
herself into a chair.

Bridget. Hasn't it come yet ?

Mildred. No, I don't know what to do. Two hours,
Bridget, two hours I've been at the beastly thing.

Bridget. Well, well. Who have you left at it ?

Mildred. Maggie. I'll rest for a quarter of an hour
and then go back to it. How long will it go on like
this ?

Bridget {philosophically). You couldn't tell. Butter's
a queer thing; there's no rule at all for it.

Mildred. It took an hour last week, and when it did
come it wasn't particularly good. I think it was you
churned the week before that.

Bridget. That was the day you went into Cork to get
the stuff for your dresses. It took about half an hour.

Mildred. Only half an hour ! And I've done every-
thing the book said ; I've heated the cream, and then it
was too hot, so I cooled it, and I've turned the right
number of turns a minute, and got quicker when the
book said I should. Oh ! I've done everything, and the
beastly thing keeps on being cream, nothing but cream.

Bridget. Ay, it's no joke. There's no rule at all for it.

Mildred. Can't you suggest anything that would
bring it ?



38 Harvest

Bridget. Well, I've heard the old people say that
there's nothing to beat stirring the cream with the hand
of a dead woman . . .

Mildred. Don't be ridiculous ; something reasonable
I mean.

Bridget. Faith, there's reason enough in that. It's
too hot you had the cream.

Mildred. But the book said . . .

Bridget. Yerra, don't mind the book. I'll step over
to the dairy myself in a minute.

Mildred. I do think Mary might give a hand with it.

Bridget. Where is she .?

Mildred. I don't know. She got up after breakfast
saying something about going to the top of the hill, but
she must have known it was butter morning. At first
f.he used to help me about the house, but lately . . .

Bridget. Ah, now, don't be hard on her.

Mildred. She should take her share of the work
all the same. She's so queer and moony the
last three or four days, hardly speaking a word to
any one . . . Bridget, / think there's something queer
about her.

Bridget. Queer ?

Mildred. Yes. I think there's something we know
nothing of. Wandering up the hills like that . . . and
never speaking . . . and last night . . . {stops).

Bridget. Yes, what was she doing last night ?

Mildred. Oh, nothing . . . only I heard her walking
about her room almost the whole night — I couldn't sleep
from it — and sometimes I thought I heard her crying.

Bridget. Crying ? What ails her at all ? She's
looking white and thin, but I thought she'd be getting
her health now she was back in Knockmalgloss. Did you
notice last Sunday how gay she was ? The first Sundays
she was at Mass she was so quiet and shy not a one looked
at her, but last Sunday whatever she done to herself
there wasn't a lad in the chapel yard that hadn't his
eve cocked after her.



Harvest 39

Mildred. Do, Bridget, go and see if the butter is
thinking of coming.

Bridget. I will so; you may warrant my brave Maggie
isn't killing herself over it. {Goes out.)

A moment later Jack comes in followed and half
supported by Timothy.

Mildred, J.ick ! What's happened ?

Timothy. Ge him a glass of water and a dash of
whiskey in it . . . are you better now ?

Jack (feebly). Yes, thanks.

Mildred {getting a glass off the dresser and pouring
a little whiskey into it and filling it up with water).
What's happened, what is it, is he hurt ?

Timothy. Hurt ? Not at all, 'tis only a sort of
wakeness he got below in the field.

Mildred. A weakness ?

Timothy. Yes, a wakeness from the heat of the sun
and the way he was working. . . . There now, drink
that down an' you'll feel better.

Mildred. Here, dear. You'll be better now.

Timothy. Ay, that'll put the heart into him.

Jack. Yes, I'm all right now. I . . . don't know
what made me be such ... an ass, I never did a thing
like that before.

Mildred. Did you faint ?

Jack. Yes. We were just piking up the first sheaves,
and suddenly the whole field seemed to go round and
round.

Timothy. Be the holy star when I saw him drop I
thought it was dead he was — a sort of stitch in the heart
he got.

Mildred. It must have been the sun, it's very hot
after the rain.

Timothy. Well, now it's not so terrible hot, but Jack
maybe feels it more than another. It's according to what
you're used to.

Mildred. That's it, he's not used to it, and he's
working too hard ; he's no right to be killing himself . . ,



40 Harvest

Jack {jeehly petulant). No, no, dear, I'm not working
hard at all ; I'll be all right now in a minute. Go on down
to the field, father, and I'll be after you in a little while.

Mildred. Indeed you'll do no such thing.

Timothy. You shouldn't go out in the sun again
to-day, and sure we can get Peter's son to pike up, he's a
handy lad.

Mildred. Yes, of course, Jack ; they can manage quite
well without you.

Jack (petulantly). Go on down to the field anyway.

Timothy. Yes, I'll be going ... if you see the
wakeness coming on him again give him another sup of
the whiskey, or maybe we ought to send for the doctor.

Mildred. Yes, I think . . .

Jack. Doctor! Nonsense, I'm all right.

Timothy. Well, well, we'll see, we'll see. {Goes out)

Mildred (anxiously). Are you really better, dear ?

Jack. Yes, yes, I tell you I'm all right.

Mildred. You quite frightened me coming in like
that, but you know your father is right, you're not fit
for the work. (Jack is silent) Don't you see it yourself ?
This isn't the kind of work you can do.

Jack {doggedly). I'm a farmer's son.

Mildred. Yes, of course, but you've risen higher than
your father. It's all a question of fitness, he couldn't
make up prescriptions in Dublin and you can't farm in
Knockmalgloss. (Jack is obstinately silent) We must
realise it. Jack, we musn't be blindly obstinate; you're
not made for a farmer's life.

Jack. I . . . I . . .

Mildred. And I'm not either.

Jack. You ?

Mildred. Yes, I thought it was all a joke, all child's
play, but I've found it isn't, I can't do the work.

Jack. You'd soon learn.

Mildred. No, not for ages. And besides, I don't
want to learn.

Jack. That means you're sick of it ?



Harvest 41

Mildred. No, not exactly, it . . . Yes, Jack, lam
sick of it.

Jack {patiently). You want to go back to Dublin ?
Mildred. I want to get out of Knockmalgloss. I
suppose you're angry with me now, but it was a ridiculous
idea all along. What chance have I of settling comfort-
ably into this life ? It was a quixotic idea. It's all very
well to look at from a distance, but . . . it's hateful
to have to live it.
Jack. Hateful ?

Mildred. Yes, positively hateful.
Jack. What do you object to ?

Mildred. Everything, simply everything. I couldn't
possibly settle down here and you couldn't either,
you must realise that . . . don't be obstinate,
Jack.

Jack. You mean we ought to go away ?
Mildred. Well, are we doing any good here ? You
gave up your place in Dublin to repay your father what
he spent on you. What have you given him ? A
month's salary that old Corrib flung at you for daring to
give him notice and sixteen pounds that the dealer gave
you for the furniture, that's all.

Jack. We may get a tenant for the house.
Mildred. If we do we'll want every penny of the
money and maybe more to pay our own rent.

Jack. Well, I give him the work of my hands, and
there's the work you do . . .

Mildred. Much good that is. The dairy and every-
thing got on much better before I had anything to say
to them. And what practical use are you to Maurice ?
What he wants is a strong labouring man, not a gentleman
pupil.

Jack {bitterly). You're candid, certainly.
Mildred. It's better to be candid than to waste your
life deceiving yourself.

Jack. I want to save father and make the farm succeed,
I want that more than anything, Mildred.



42 Harvest

Mildred. You're doing neither the one thing nor the
other. You're simply estranging your father and
Maurice. They're getting to hate you for keeping them
out of their money, and I don't think you've any right
to do it when you can't give them anything in ex-
change.

Jack. Mildred ! I thought you agreed with me how
frightfully dishonest it is ?

Mildred. I'm not denying the dishonesty, I'm only
saying what you said yourself when you persuaded me
to live down here. I wish to goodness I had refused.
{Silence.) Jack, let's chuck it. {Silence)

Jack {rousing himself). No, no, I can't give it up like
this at the first reverse ; don't ask me to do that, Mildred.

Mildred. When you asked me to come and live here
I consented at once.

Jack. Where do you want to go ?

Mildred. I want to go abroad.

Jack. Oh, Mildred, why do you want me to leave
Ireland ?

Mildred {coaxingly). Because my boy is a clever boy
and I want him to get on. I don't want him to stick in
Ireland all his life. You are clever, you know, and I
don't think you'll ever get a fair chance in this country,
or at least you won't get as good a chance as you'd get
in a new country. Don't you think so ?

Jack. You're ambitious ?

Mildred. Yes, for my boy's sake, and just a little for
my own.

Jack. I thought when you married me you were quite
content to be the wife of a peasant, and then you said
you'd like to live the life.

Mildred {serenely). Oh, I've changed my mind,
besides you never were a peasant really.

Jack (feebly). I don't want to get on ; I mean I haven't
that sort of ambition for myself.

Mildred. Then have a little for me. Oh yes, of
course, it's very charming to be your wife, but . .. ,



Harvest 43

but . . . wellj-^Jack, candidly the wife of a chemist isn't
of much account up in Dublin. Remember, dear, I've
travelled about with my father, I've seen the world and
a good deal of society and . . . and I feel the change.
Oh, dear, I don't want to hurt you, you're so sweet and
good to me, but I'd be happier if I thought there was a
chance of your getting on to something better.

Jack. But abroad I'd still be a chemist ; it seems the
only thing I can do.

Mildred. Ah, but if we left Ireland father would soon
climb down. You know he practically promised me an
allowance if we went away, and besides in the Colonies
it's different; there aren't such straight lines drawn
between the classes; you'd see how I'd get you on if I
once had you away from Dublin. There, give me a kiss
and say I'm the wisest little wife in the world.

Jack. I can't give up such a lot all at once ; don't ask
me to, I can't . . .

Mildred. Oh, but you will. And remember if you
insist on staying in this place . . . well, you'll stay
without me. {Gaily) There. That's my ultimatum.

Jack. Oh ! {E^iter Maggie.)

Maggie. Bridget Twomey says the butter's after
coming and for you to go out to the dairy. {Enter Mary.)

Mildred. Oh, I don't care about' the old butter.
Yes, tell her I'm coming. {Exit Maggie.) Oh, Mary,
such a morning as I've had with the butter ; it simply-
wouldn't come. I've been at it about two hours
and a half.

Mary. I'm sorry. I'd have helped you only I was busy.

Mildred. Busy 1

Mary. Are you better, Jack ?

Jack. Yes, thank you, I'm all right.

Mildred {going out). Well, I must go and look after
my butter. I suppose you're too busy to give me
a hand with it ?

Mary. Are you really better ? You look wretched.
Wouldn't you go and lie down I



44 Harvest

Jack. I'm beaten, Mary.

Mary. Beaten ?

Jack. Yes, beaten. I thought I could easily come
back to farm life, but I find I'm a weakling . . . use-
less , . . useless.

Mary. Oh, nonsense !

Jack. I meant to live on here and help Maurice and
try to save the farm, but . . . but ... a boy of twelve
could do better work than I can.

Mary. Never mind, Jack, maybe things aren't as bad as
they seem.

Jack. Oh, but they are. The farm is in a terribly
serious state, Mary; there's nothing for it now but to sell
it up and put father out on the road.

Mary. Never fear, father isn't in the least likely to be
put out on the road. I've just been down telling Maurice
the good news, and I came up to tell you.

Jack. Good news ?

Mary. Yes, very good news. It's . . . it's a long
story. Jack, but I . . . the fact of it is I wrote to Patrick
last week and told him the state of things at home. I
thought it w^as ridiculous of Maurice to be so proud about
it, because I was sure Patrick would help us if he knew
how badly off we were.

Jack. Yes, what did he say ?

Mary. He wrote very affectionately and sent . . .


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Online LibraryLennox RobinsonTwo plays: Harvest; The Clancy name → online text (page 3 of 6)