Tim O'Daly and the Clericaune

by Grace Greenwood

Tim O'Daly was an under-gamekeeper upon Lord Powerscourt's estate, and lived in a nice comfortable cottage, near the Dargle. He had a tidy, thrifty, good-tempered wife, and half a dozen fine, hearty boys and girls—the eldest nearly young men and women. Tim, himself, was honest and industrious, and very much trusted by his master, and yet he was not a happy man. He was discontented, because he was poor, and obliged to work for a living. He longed for wealth and ease—to see his wife ride in her carriage, and to make his sons and daughters gentlemen and ladies. In short, he thought that riches were all that was needed to put the O'Dalys where they deserved to be in the world, and make them great and happy. So much did he think of these things, that he was always on the look-out for the Clericaune, determined, if ever he should see him, to catch him, and make him deliver up his treasure.

One evening, as he was going home through the Dargle, he sat down on a mossy stone, and fell to thinking of his hard lot, and wondering what Providence had against the O'Dalys, that he had not been made a lord, or at least, a rich squire.

All at once, he heard the click, click, of the Clericaune's little hammer on his lapstone! He rose softly—parted the bushes, and there sat the wee brogue-maker, busily at work.

The next moment, Tim had him fast in his fist, and fast he held him, till the elf showed him where his treasure was hid.

Then, after loading himself with gold and jewels, he set the fairy free, and went home dancing and singing in a very strange and indecorous way. The news and the treasure he brought set his sober family wild with joy. They had a great feast and dance over it—all to themselves, for they were grown too grand to associate with their poor neighbors.

Then Tim went and bought a castle, a real old castle, from an impoverished lord—with fine furniture, pictures, horses, hounds, plate, wines, whiskey, and a famous Banshee, who lived in an old turret, especially built for her accommodation.

Tim took his family to this castle, and set up a splendid style of living. Nobody was troubled with work or care now, except in the pursuit of pleasure; and yet, to poor Tim's astonishment, nobody was happy. He was most miserable of all, for he found it hardest to get used to rich clothes, rich food, authority, and idleness. His wife had her carriage—but she was always driving about in it—never at home with him. His daughters put on fine airs, with fine clothes, and learned to despise their ignorant old father, His sons took to bad company, drinking, rioting, and fox-chasing—and, as they did not know much about riding, they were always getting tumbles, and breaking their necks. His old friends were too humble to come near him in his grandeur, and the gentry too proud to notice such a rough, vulgar fellow, who had got rich in some sudden, suspicious way. He had hoped that Lord Powerscourt, at least, would visit him, "for the sake of old times, and out of neighborly feeling just,"—and Mrs. O'Daly counted confidently on a "betther acquaintance with her Ladyship." "An' sure," she said, "our young folk will be mighty thick directly, and what should hinder the young lord from taking a fancy to our Peggy? Arrah! they would make an ilegant match, by raison of his height an' her shortness,—an' thin, haven't they hair of the same lively shade of red?"

But Lord Powerscourt, who had always been a kind and affable master, seemed put upon the very tallest stilts of his dignity, when he met his old servant now; and though he congratulated him on his good fortune, never honored him with either a formal or friendly call—while Lady Powerscourt and her daughters, who had often visited the cottage by the Dargle, in times of sickness and trouble, were never seen driving up the avenue of O'Daly Castle,—and as for the young lord, he went abroad, about these days, and was lost to Miss Peggy O'Daly forever.

Tim's new neighbors laughed at him for his pretensions, and the blunders his family made in "aping their betters,"—his servants imposed on him, and there was nothing but coldness, discord, and wicked waste in his grand old castle, so unlike the humble, happy home of the game-keeper.

Even the Banshee, in whom he had felt so much pride, was no consolation; for, being indignant that low-born peasants had dared to take the place of the ancient and noble family she had so long patronized, she did nothing but howl about the castle, every night of her life.

At length, things got to such a desperate pass, that Tim could endure them no longer, but took the few fairy jewels and guineas that remained, and went with them to the place where he had caught the Clericaune.

There he was again, and he looked up at Tim with a wicked twinkle in his eye, for he knew, the rascal, what trouble unearned riches bring upon one. Tim emptied his pockets of gold and precious stones, and flung them at the little brogue-maker's head—crying out—

"There, take back yer dirty treasure, and bad luck to you, you spalpeen of a fairy, for decaying a Christian!"

He threw with such force, that he flung himself off the stone—and that woke him!

Yes, the capture of the Clericaune, his wealth, his grand castle, and all his trouble were a dream. He got up and looked about him, a little bewildered at first, but soon recollected himself, and set out for home, a wiser and happier man than when he entered the Dargle that afternoon.

It was late and supper was waiting for him. His good wife smiled when he came in, and put by her sewing; his sons and daughters had all come from their work or school, and greeted him affectionately. As he sat down with them to their simple evening meal of bread, milk, and potatoes, they noticed that he said grace with unusual fervor, and then looked round upon them all with tears in his eyes.

His home was as humble as ever—but somehow, it had grown beautiful to him, for the sunshine of contentment was over every thing. His wife was as far from riding in her carriage, and his boys and girls from being gentlemen and ladies, as ever; but he loved them and was proud of them for their goodness and honesty, and he felt that God had done better for them than he could do, with all the riches in the world.