St. John G. (St. John Greer) Ervine.

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more like it ! " or " Shall I send it for you,
madam ? No trouble at all, madam. What
name and address, please ? " or " Anything else
to-day, madam ? No ! Theng-cue ! " That on
a day, like yesterday ! The smell of stuff at
two-three a yard on a day like yesterday ! . . .

He had stood on the Spaniards' Road, and
had seen the pinnacles of City churches shooting
up into clouds of smoke and mist. " Didden look
bad, neither ! " And had looked towards the
little humpy hills at Harrow that seemed like
cushions for the sky. He had thrown stones into
the Round Pond, and had set a dog barking
furiously, to the consternation of an elderly lady.


He had wandered round the ambling lanes, and
had gaped at the cottage where Byron lived and
the place where Keats heard the nightingale. He
had seen a great blackbird . . . and then he had
plucked whinblossoms, not without fear that he
might be offending against the bye-law which
forbade malicious injury to trees, shrubs, plants,

" But it ain't malicious," he said to reassure

He had crossed the horse-ride and had thrown
himself down on a high grassy place, and had
rolled about and slept and dreamt, and then
rolled about and slept and dreamt again. He had
helped three boys to catch tiddlers in the ponds
beyond the horse-ride, and had learned much of
the habits of that fish and the respective value
of a plain tiddler and a tiddler with a red throat.
. . . Clay had got on his boots and trousers and
on his hands, and once he slipped on a wet bank,
and his foot went into the water. The boys
laughed, and he laughed too, and a girl who went
by — a jolly girl, with long hair and bright eyes —
laughed. Fine girl, she was. Looked nice! Not
like the girls in the shop, white and yellow, and
always got a headache. . . . He'd go up there
again one day. . . .

He had spent a fabulous sum on his midday
meal at " The Bull and Bush " ; but then what
was the good of doing a thing like that unless it


was done well ? Might as well enjoy yourself
proper ! He had given twopence to the waiter !
. . . And when the meal was over, no rushing
back to the shop as if you hadn't got a minute to
spare. He had strolled about the Heath quietly
and comfortably, smoking a cigar that cost four-
pence. It was a good cigar, too. He could tell
that because the ash did not fall off for a long
time. . . .

He remembered that he sat on a fallen tree for
a while and watched some children playing cricket,
and once he ran and fielded the ball for them, and
they asked him if he'd like a turn at the wicket,
and when he'd looked round to see if anyone was
watching he took the bat . . . and was bowled
first ball. After that he had wandered into the
Garden Suburb, and had cocked a critical eye at
the houses. Not bad, they weren't. He saw a
girl in a floppy dress. . . . Of course, it was clever
and all that, but floppy dress was not his style.
He preferred the style of the girl who had laughed
when he fell into the pond. Smart, she was. Her
skirt fitted closely about her shapely limbs, and
she had on a pair of fine silk stockings that you
could see through. . . .

" That's what I call a girl ! " he said to him-
self, as he thought of her. " I mean to say, that's
a proper girl ! . . ."

When he came out of the Garden Suburb he had
wandered aimlessly but contentedly about. He


had found his way to the little zoo at Golder's
Hill, and had seen the kangaroo jump in the oddest
fashion. There were queer-looking birds there,
all coloured, and deer that came and nosed in
your hand. ... He had walked into Golder's
Park, and called for tea at the house that was
formerly a mansion, but is now an eating-place.
He sat there until the dusk came down, and then
he walked about chi-iking a girl or two. . . .
At supper-time he had gone home ; but he sat so
long in his room thinking of the girl who had
laughed when he fell in the pond that he forgot
to go down to supper, and, rather than disturb
Mrs. Carson, he went out to get something to eat.
Chalk Farm had an ugly look last night, and it
reeked ! He had suddenly become depressed and
unhappy, and had had a strange inclination to
cry. . . .

Well, all that took place yesterday. Now for
Toft. Of course the firm would be wild when
they knew, and, after all — well, he was human
same's they were. Speaking strictly, he ought
not to have stayed away from the shop. He was
prepared to admit that. But there was an excuse
for him. He hadn't had much of a life. . . .
How would they like it, eh ? The stink of stuff
at two-three a yard all day ! How would they
like it ? If Toft began bullying him ! . . .

He entered the shop, and when he had taken
off his outdoor coat, and put on his official frock-



coat, he prepared to enter his department. There
was a heavy smell of carpet in the room.

"Co, what a fug ! " he exclaimed to himself.

Toft eyed him severely.

" You didn't turn up yesterday ! " he said, as
if he were giving news. " How is that ? "

" No, sir, I "

" Eh ? "

" The truth is, sir "

" Well ? "

" Please, sir, I wassen feehn' very well ! "

" Oh ! You ought to have sent a message.
You know that, don't you ? "

" Yessir ! I'm sorry, sir ! "

" Well, don't let it occur again — see ! — or
you'll hear more about it ! Look sharp, now ;
we're very busy ! "

" Yessir ! Thank you, sir ! I'm very sorry ! "

" All right. Get to your counter, will you ?
There's a lot to do ! "

" Yessir ! "

" Of course, we shall stop a day's salary ! "

He looked up at Mr. Toft. " Yessir," he said.


I CLIMBED to the top of Lurigedan, and while I
lay there panting for breath, for God knows I am
no climber, Murty came to me.

" It's a brave day ! " he said in greeting.

" It is, indeed ! " I replied.

He lay down by my side and gazed out towards
the sea.

" But, sure, it'll not keep up," he said after a
little while. " It'll be soft the morrow."ji

" How do you know, Murty ? " I asked.

" It's the way it always is here. Brave an'
fine one day, an' rainin' the next. Ye '11 be goin'
away soon ? "

I nodded my head.

" On Saturday, mebbe."

" Yes, on Saturday, Murty."

He sat up and caught hold of his toes with his
fingers, and swayed himself about for a few

" It's well to be you," he said, " to^^be goin'
over to Englan'."

"Why, Murty?"



" Ah, sure, ye see things there. It's the quare
lonely place this to be stayin', an' you not seein'
a livin' sowl thrum one day's end til another,
barrin' the people ye see thrum the time ye 're
born til the time ye die, an' them not knowin'
anny more nor yourself, God help them ! "

" It's lonely everywhere, Murty," I said.
" Lonelier in London than it is here." I told
him how when I had gone to London first, a boy
of sixteen, I had stood outside the Mansion House
one Saturday and cried because there were six
or seven million men and women about me and I
did not know one of them. " Here you know
everybody," I said.

" Ah, but you can see things in towns," he
urged. " There's nathin' to see here on'y an
ould sweety shop, an' McClurg's public-house, an'
the long car comin' down the road wi' the mails.
I'll not be stoppin' here once I get the chance to
go away."

I said that I should have thought he would like
to be a farmer, but he shook his head vigorously.
" Norra bit o' me '11 do that," he said. " There's
nathin' to do here but work thrum the dawn o'
day til the dark o' night, an' in the winter time
it's that cowl' wi' the win' blowin' thrum the
sea enough to blow the head aff ye that ye can't
go out, an' have to be sittin' crouchin' over the
fire, God help ye, to keep yerself warm. It's
no life that for a man, but a life for a dumb baste


that has nathin' to do but ate the grass, an' he
down an' wait for the butcher to come an' take
it til the slaughter-house. If ye wur to go into
the village now, ye'd see the fellas lyin' up agin
the curfew tower, wi' their han's in their pockets,
an' nathin' at all in their heads but wonderin'
v/hat to do wi' themselves afore bedtime, an' not
findin' no answer ! "

I became inept. " The reading-room," I

" Readin'-room ! " he exclaimed scornfully.
" Sure, what's the good o' a readin'-room til
annyone, wi' a lot o' ould papers in them ? Ye
can't go into a readin'-room ivry night in the
week. I never was in the one in Cushendall
barrin' once, an' there was nathin' there but ould
Christian Her'lds, an' religious papers that make
ye sick to read them. The way they ram Jases
down your throat is enough to send a man to
the bad. I'll be off to the town as soon as I can ! "

I talked to Murty about rural depopulation and
the land-hunger.

" Ah, people want land right enough," he said,
" but it's a sore lonely life to lead workin' it."
He stood up as he spoke and looked down into the
valley. " Wud ye just look at ould Barney
O'Hara down there," he said. He pointed to the
fields lying at the foot of Lurigedan, and I rose
and walked to his side. I saw an old man, very
bent, binding hay.


"D'ye think I want to be the like o' that when
I'm his age ? " said Murty. " He can't read or
write, that ould lad, an' he knows nathin', an'
he works that hard he's never had time to find
anny thing out. All he can do is work his Ian'.
If ye talk til him about annythin' else, he gets
moidhered. An' it's the way wi' all the men
here. They can't enjoy theirselves because there's
nathin' til enjoy. If I was in a town now, I
woulden need to be goin' to bed at half-eight or
nine because I'm tired o' doin' nathin'. Ye can go
to a music-hall in a town for tuppence, an' hear
all the latest songs, but ye never hear nathin' here
except mebbe in the summer time when a visitor
like yerself comes, an' then the songs is ould ! "

" Will you go to Belfast ? " I asked.

" No, I'll go to Glasgow. There's more value

" Do you know anyone in Glasgow ? "

" Ay, I have a brother there. My brother
Ned. It was him toul' me Glasgow was better
value nor Bilfast. It was him made the quare
fool o' me one time when he was here over the
head of a song I was singin'. Says he, ' That
song's brave an' ould ! ' An' me on 'y heard it a
wee while afore he come ! "

" What does your brother do in Glasgow ? "
I asked.

" He's a barman."

" And how long has he to work ? "


" He begins at eight in the mornin' an' he laves
aff at eleven at night ; but sure he gets a half-
holiday once a week, an' he has all day on Sunday,
for they won't let you drink on a Sunday in
Glasgow ; an' he goes til a music-hall ivry week,
an' sometimes he goes til two m one day, for some
places has two houses a night, an' you can do the
two for fourpence in the gallery. That's cheap
enough. It 'ud take more'n fourpence to give
you pleasure in Cushendall ! "

" But, Murty," said I, " this is a finer place
than Glasgow. This hill and the valley and the
sea cannot be compared with Glasgow and your
brother's foul -smelling public -house."

" Ah, what's the good of scenery in the winter
time ? " he replied. " Ye get tired o' lukkin' at
them all the year round. Ye want a change. In
a town, now, ye get change. There's crowds o'
people an' all the latest songs. ... It's all very
fine to talk, sir, but Ned doesn't want to come
back here, an' I do want to get away oura this.
That tells, doesn't it ? "

We stood there regarding the figure of Barney
O'Hara as he patiently bound the bundles of hay,
and I thought to myself how sad a thing it was
that the boy by my side should long to fling him-
self into the unutterable hideousness of Glasgow
out of the incomparable beauty of Antrim, and
when I had thought that I turned to Murty and
told him so.


"It's not sad at all," he replied. " Ye'd be
wantin' the town yerself if ye were livin' here all
the time. It's right an' easy to be talkin' the
way you're talkin' when you on'y come for a
trip, but ye'd be talkin' differ 'nt, I can tell ye,
if ye lived here all the year. Come on," he said
suddenly, " an' I'll race ye down the grassy slope."

We half ran, half fell down the grassy slope,
and in a short time we came to the field where
Barney O'Hara was binding hay.

" That's a brave evenin' ! " said Murty to the
old man, as we ran by.

" Ay, it is," replied the old man without looking

" Ould footer!" murmured Murty as he ran


He and I sat on a scat in Hyde Park, and watched
the drift of fashionable folk go by. He was a
sniall, neat man, with a pleasant, pale face and
soft blue eyes, in which there was a whimsical,
wondering look. His mouth was puckered up
when I first saw him, but he was not whistling :
he seemed to me to be exclaiming in astonishment.
He gazed about him very eagerly ; he appeared
to be unable to look at the fashionable folk too
closely. Now and then, when some resplendent
man or beautiful woman went by, his lips would
pucker as if he were saying, " Oh ! " to himself ;
and his eyes gleamed like those of a puzzled child.
He turned and spoke to me quite simply, without
self-consciousness, as if it were natural for two
men who had never seen each other before to
speak and be neighbourly.

" You can't get over it," he said, " they're
nice-lookin' ! I mean to say, you can't 'elp
lookin' at 'em. That young girl that jus' passed
now, she was nice-lookin', wasn't she ? "

I looked at the retreating form of a tall,


dark girl, with slender limbs, and nodded my

" I don't mean to say she's beautiful," he
continued. " Not what you'd call beautiful I
But nice-lookin' ! Eh ? Walks nice, an' the
way she talked, too ! That was nice ! An' 'er
'air, an' the way she was dressed ! There's a lot
of 'em about 'ere like that. Nice-lookin' ! Got

nice 'ands ! " He held out his hands, as he

said this, and I saw that they were hard and rough
and red ; the nails were broken and distorted, and
the knuckles were knubbly. He dropped his
hands to his side, and laughed. " Not like mine,
eh ? " he said.

A boy went by, exquisitely tailored, and at his
side was a girl of seventeen. She was smiling at
something the boy said to her, and as she passed
us, she put her hand up to her loose hair and
flung it out so that it fell from her shoulder, and
down her back. It was thick and brown, and it
shone with beautyi I forgot the little man at my
side, until I heard him speak again.

" Now, she's nice-lookin'," he said. " I mean
to say she's real nice, she is ! An' 'e was nice-
lookin' too ! Well-set-up young feller, I call
'im ! Make a nice pair, they will ! Shouldn't
be a bit surprised if they 'it it off ! " He remained
silent for a few moments, and then began again.
" I s'pose they bin to church together, eh ? Yes,
I expect so ! They all go to church about 'ere !


You know ! Church Parade they call this !
Mind you, I don't blame 'em. You can't 'elp
likin' 'em when you look at 'em ! Nice-lookin'
an' that ! You know, I can't make it out !
I mean to say, 'ow is it ? They ain't wot you'd
call beautiful — some on 'em downright ugly, but
some'ow they're nice to look at. You know !
Walks nice an' talks nice, and got nice 'ands ! —
I mean to say, look at me now ! I'm not like
them. I mean to say, if I 'ad the clothes they
'ave, I couldn't carry it off, you know. Look at
my 'ands I Why, I couldn't wear gloves on 'em !
An' I don't talk the way they do. An' walk !
Well, I mean to say, it's silly to talk about it,
ain't it ? An' my wife, too ! — She was nice-
lookin' when I first knew 'er. Proper nice-
lookin', she was ! I mean to say she was as
nice-lookin' as any 'ere, considerin' ! Why, you
wouldn't believe wot my wife was like when she
was a young girl. You know ! Jaunty, she
was ! Walked about like any think, an' did 'er
'air nice, an' all that ! But she ain't like it now,
you know ! I mean to say, she's all right, reely,
only some'ow . . . That young girl we see jus'
now with that boy, she'll be nice-lookin' when she
gets to be my wife's age, same's she is now. Only
older ! That's all. She'll do 'er 'air nice, an'
'ave nice 'ands, an' talk nice. Don't matter wot
age she is, she'll be nice-lookin'. Lots of old
'uns 'ere ! Sixty if they're a day, some of 'em !


Only they don't look old ! Of course, they make
emselves up a bit, but it ain't all that ! Even
when they don't niakc 'emselves up, they look
nice. You know wot I mean ! Now, my wife,
she's not like that. She's not more'n forty, but
she looks a good bit more. Don't seem to take
no pride in 'erself. 'Er 'air — well, of course, it
ain't to be expected, not with all she 'as to do !
I mean to say, it ain't reasonable to expect it.
Only ! . . . Well, you know the way it is your-
self ! I can't help thinkin' of wot she was like
when I first knew 'er ! See ! Proper nice-lookin'
she was ! An' that partic'lar ! "

The Park was crowded now, and the fashion-
able folk pressed close to us, as they went by.
Beautiful women, beautifully clad, passed to and
fro in an odour of fine perfumes. The little man
drew his breath through his nostrils.

" That's nice, that is," he exclaimed. " I bet
that cost a bit ! Did you 'ear the way their
dresses rustle, eh ? Silk ! I often come 'ere of a
Sunday mornin' an' spend a penny on a seat.
Fair treat, I call it ! Of course, my wife she 'as
to be cookin' the dinner, else I'd bring 'er, too.
Do 'er good, it would. I mean to say it 'ud do
anyone good. It's nice to see people lookin'
nice ! Any'ow, that's wot I think ! I often say
to 'er, if she was to try a bit more — only it ain't
fair to say that. She ain't got the time ! Stands
to reason she ain't. We've 'ad seven children.


Two of 'cm dead, thank God ! I don't mean to
say I'm glad they're gone, only — well, you know
yourself, they got the best of it, ain't they, now ?
An' it makes things a bit easier for 'or. It's a
bit of a nandful, seven ! An' the cookin' an' the
cleanin' an' all that. You know, I don't wonder
she don't take no pride in 'erself. I don't reely !
I dessay she thinks I'm as bad as 'er. She 'ad
nice 'ands, too. I mean to say she was very
partic'lar about 'er 'ands. Rub lemons on 'em
every night to make 'em white. An' glycerine !
■Ever 'card of that ? Keeps 'cm soft an' white.
She read about it in a paper. An' do the grate
with gloves on. I often say to 'er if she'd only
kep' it up, she'd be as nicc-lookin' as any of 'em.
But she didn't ! An' I don't wonder at it neither.
Not with wot she 'as to do. Only ! . . . They
do it all right. I mean to say their 'air don't get
the way 'ers is ! Mind, I'm not sayin' a word
against 'er. She an' me's all right, you know.
I don't mean to say we don't 'ave no words now
an' again, but on the 'ole, we're all right. On the
'ole ! Proper pals we are. I tell 'er all about
this every Sunday. She thinks same as me
about it. She's got too much to do. It ain't
'er fault, of course. I mean to say, she ain't
to blame. An' it ain't my fault. Jus' can't be
'elped ! "

The drift of fashionable folk had thinned, and
the little man murmured something about having


to go. He gazed about him in the manner of one
who is eager to take a last good look at treasured
scenes, and then rose and stretched himself.

" I wouldn't miss comin' 'ere for anythink,"
he said, and added, " Good-day, sir ! " and went
his way.


The funeral procession from the girl's home to
the graveyard was due to begin at half-past two,
but long before that hour the crowd of mourners
began to collect. They stood about the entrance
to the lane leading to the churchyard, and waited.
The home of the dead girl faced the lane, and the
procession, therefore, would reach its journey's
end in a few moments from the time when it began
to move. Townsmen and neighbours mingled
with men from the country and the hills, and
fishermen from the bay where the girl was
drowned ; and each man as he came up to a
group of his acquaintances spoke of the terrible-
ness of the disaster, and then the talk circled
round the affairs of the small town.

John Mawhinney came along the old road to
Ballyshannon, and when he was by the lane, he
hailed James O'Hara.

" How're ye, James ? " he said.

James O'Hara, a lean, foxy-looking man, turned
at the sound of Mawhinney's voice. " Och, A'm


just middlin'," he replied. " AVe the quare cowl
on me ! How is yourself ? "

" Ah, A'm not so bad. Man-a-dear, this is a
tarr'ble sad thing about this young girl ! "

" Aye, it is that. Man, A mind her when she
was that height, the same wee girl ! " He allowed
his hand to fall to the level of his knees as he
spoke. " An' a smart wee girl she was, too !
Aye ! She always had an answer for ye, what-
ever ye said, she was that sharp ! "

He looked up as he spoke, and saw John
McClurg approaching. " Is that you, John ? "
he said.

McClurg, a large, moon-faced man, with little
smiling eyes, came puffing up to them.

" It is surely," he replied to O'Hara's greeting.

" A saw ye in the market the fair day," said
Mawhinney, " but ye wurn't lukkin', an' ye
didden see me. Did ye do well wi' yer cattle ? "

" Ah, A didden do so bad. A might 'a' done
better, an' A might 'a' done worse ! "

" Did ye sell thon wee heifer ye had wi' ye ? "

" A did not. A wudden take the price "

O'Hara tapped him on the arm. " A s'pose ye
come to the funer'l ? " he said.

John McClurg glanced across the road to the
door of the house where the dead girl lay.
" Well," he said, " A thought A wud just dander
into the town an' show me respect til the dead,
God rest her sowl ! " The three men raised their


hats at his prayer. " What time docs it begin ? "
he asked.

" They wur talkin' about half-after-two,"
repHed Mawhinney, " but A'm thinkin' it'll be
later 'n that. Sure, the mail train's not in thrum
Bilfast yet, an' there's fren's comin' thrum there
an' thrum Derry, too, an' they'll be wantin' their
denner when they git here. It'll be three o'clock
afore iver they stir out o' the dure ! "

" Aye, it will that," said James O'Hara, and
then he turned and spoke to John McClurg.
" Wur ye wantin' much for yer wee heifer ? " he

McClurg bit a piece of tobacco off a long twist
of dark villainous stuff, and when he had chewed
it in his mouth a while, he spat yellow juice over
the kerb, and then said, " You might think A
was wantin' too much, an' A might think meself
A was wantin' too little ! "

" A saw her meself," exclaimed Mawhinney,
" afore she went intil the sea, laughin' an' jokin'
like annythin' ! Aw, God save us all thrum a
death the like o' her death ! '

" They wur a quare long time findin' her ! "

" They wur."

" Wud ye be wantin' five poun's fur yer wee
heifer, John McClurg ? " said James O'Hara. p-^

" A wud, indeed, an' a bit more on top of it ! "

" They foun' her jus' where she went down,"
continued Mawhinney, in the voice of a man who



is reciting an oft -told tale. " Man, it's qiiare the
way the body returns like that ! "


" Who's thon man wi' the tall hat an' the long
coat on him, d'ye know ? " asked one that stood
by of Mawhinney, as a man in a frock coat
knocked at the door.

" A nivir seen him afore," replied Mawhinney.
" He's a stranger in this town, A'm thinkin'.
D'ye know him, James ? "

"A do not," replied O'Hara. " Mebbe he's
come be the train. The mail's in now. Thonder's
Patrick Magrath with the mail-car comin' roun'
the corner ! "

" Ye 're mebbe right ! " Mawhinney resumed
the recital of his tale. " Did ye see the piece in
the Derry paper about her ? " he said. " Thon
was the quare bit. An' there was a piece of
portry be the young wumman in the post-affice ! "

" Aye, A saw that. It was quare an' nice. A
didden know thon wumman cud do the like o'
that ! "

" Ah, sure she's in Government sarvice, issen
she ? . . . "

" The paper said she was the quare, clivir, wee
girl, an' tuk a lotta prizes at the school in Derry
her da sent her to. They must 'a' spent a power
o' money on her trainin' ! "

" They did that. They nivir grudged her
nathin'. It's a quare pity of them ! "


" Aye, it only shows ye shuddcn make a god of
yer childher !....'*

Two young men, one of whom carried a costly
wreath in his hands, went up to the door, and
presently were admitted to the house.

" Fur dear sake, luk at thon wreath ! " ex-
claimed John Mawhinney. " Man, thon must 'a'

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