“King William” by Charlotte O’Conor Eccles

From “Aliens of the West.”

Mrs. Macfarlane was a tall, thin, and eminently respectable woman of fifty, possessed of many rigid virtues. She was a native of the north of Ireland, and had come originally to Toomevara as maid to the Dowager Lady Dunanway. On the death of her mistress, whom she served faithfully for many years, Lord Dunanway offered to set her up in business, and at the time our story opens she had been for two years proprietress of the buffet, and made a decent living by it; for as Toomevara is situated on the Great Southern and Western Railway, a fair amount of traffic passes through it.

The stationmaster, familiarly known as “Jim” O’Brien, was Toomevara born, and had once been a porter on that very line. He was an intelligent, easy-going, yet quick-tempered man of pronounced Celtic type, with a round, good-natured face, a humorous mouth, shrewd, twinkling eyes, and immense volubility.

Between him and Mrs. Macfarlane the deadliest warfare raged. She was cold and superior, and implacably in the right. She pointed out Jim’s deficiencies whenever she saw them, and she saw them very often. All day long she sat in her refreshment room, spectacles on nose, her Bible open before her, knitting, and rising only at the entrance of a customer. Jim had an uneasy consciousness that nothing escaped her eye, and her critical remarks had more than once been reported to him.

“The bitther ould pill!” he said to his wife. “Why, the very look ov her ‘ud sour a crock o’ crame. She’s as cross as a bag ov weasels.”

Jim was a Catholic and a Nationalist. He belonged to the “Laygue,” and spoke at public meetings as often as his duties allowed. He objected to being referred to by Mrs. Macfarlane as a “Papish” and a “Rebel.”

“Papish, indeed!” said he. “Ribbil, indeed! Tell the woman to keep a civil tongue in her head, or ‘twill be worse for her.”

“How did the likes ov her iver get a husban’?” he would ask, distractedly, after a sparring match. “Troth, an’ ’tis no wondher the poor man died.”

Mrs. Macfarlane was full of fight and courage. Her proudest boast was of being the granddaughter, daughter, sister, and widow of Orangemen.

She looked on herself in Toomevara as a child of Israel among the Babylonians, and felt that it behoved her to uphold the standard of her faith. To this end she sang the praises of the Battle of the Boyne with a triumph that aggravated O’Brien to madness.

“God Almighty help the woman! Is it Irish at all she is—or what? To see her makin’ merry because a parcel o’ rascally Dutchmen——! Sure, doesn’t she know ’twas Irish blood they spilt at the Boyne? An’ to see her takin’ pride in it turns me sick, so it does. If she was English, now, I could stand it, but she callin’ herself an Irishwoman—faith, she has the bad dhrop in her, so she has, to be glad at her counthry’s misforchins.”

Jim’s rage was the greater because Mrs. Macfarlane, whatever she said, said little or nothing to him. She passed him by with lofty scorn and indifference affecting  not to see him; and while she did many things that O’Brien found supremely annoying, they were things strictly within her rights.

Matters had not arrived at this pass all at once. The feud dated from Mrs. Macfarlane’s having adopted a little black dog—a mongrel—on which she lavished a wealth of affection, and which, as the most endearing title she knew, she named “King William.” This, of course, was nobody’s concern save Mrs. Macfarlane’s own, and in a world of philosophers she would have been allowed to amuse herself unheeded, but Jim O’Brien was not a philosopher.

Unlike most Irishmen, he had a great love for flowers. His garden was beautifully kept, and he was prouder of his roses than of anything on earth save his eldest daughter, Kitty, who was nearly sixteen. Picture, then, his rage and dismay when he one day found his beds scratched into holes and his roses uprooted by “King William,” who had developed a mania for hiding away bones under Jim’s flowers. O’Brien made loud and angry complaints to the dog’s owner, which she received with unconcern and disbelief.

“Please, Mr. O’Brien,” she said, with dignity, “don’t try to put it on the puir wee dog. Even if yu du dislike his name, that’s no reason for saying he was in your garden. He knows betther, so he does, than to go where he’s not wanted.”

After this it was open war between the stationmaster and the widow.

Under the windows of the refreshment room were two narrow flower-beds. These Jim took care never to touch, affecting to consider them the exclusive property of Mrs. Macfarlane. They were long left  uncultivated, an eyesore to the stationmaster; but one day Kelly, the porter, came to him with an air of mystery, to say that “th ould wan”—for by this term was Mrs. Macfarlane generally indicated—“was settin’ somethin’ in the beds beyant.”

Jim came out of his office and walked up and down the platform with an air of elaborate unconsciousness. Sure enough, there was Mrs. Macfarlane gardening. She had donned old gloves and a clean checked apron, and, trowel in hand, was breaking up the caked earth, preparatory, it would seem, to setting plants.

“What the dickens is she doin’?” asked Jim, when he got back.

“Not a wan ov me knows,” said Kelly. “She’s been grubbin’ there since nine o’clock.”

From this time Mrs. Macfarlane was assiduous in the care of her two flower-beds. Every day she might be seen weeding or watering, and though Jim steadily averted his gaze, he was devoured by curiosity as to the probable results. What on earth did she want to grow? The weeks passed. Tiny green seedlings at last pushed their way through the soil, and in due course the nature of the plants became evident. Jim was highly excited, and rushed home to tell his wife.

“Be the hokey, Mary,” he said, “’tis lilies she has there, an may I never sin, but it’s my belief they’re orange lilies, an’ if they are, I’ll root ev’ry wan ov thim out, if I die for it.”

“Be quiet, now,” said Mary. “How d’ye know they’re lilies at all? For the love o’ God keep her tongue off ov ye, an’ don’t be puttin’ yersel’ in her way.”

“Whist, woman, d’ye think I’m a fool? ’Tis lilies th’ are annyways, an’ time’ll tell if they’re orange or not,  but faith, if th’are, I won’t shtand it.’ I’ll complain to the Boord.”

“Sure the Boord’ll be on her side, man. Don’t yeh know the backin’ she has? They’ll say ‘Why shouldn’t she have orange lilies if she likes?’”

“Ah, Mary, ’tis too sinsible y’are inthirely. Have ye no sperrit, woman alive, to let her ride rough-shod over uz this way? ‘Make a mouse o’ yerself an’ the cat’ll ate ye,’ ‘s a thrue saying. Sure, Saint Pether himself cuddn’t shtand it, an’ be the piper that played before Moses, I won’t!”

“Ye misfortunit man, don’t be dhrawin’ down ructions on yer head. Haven’t yeh childer to think about? An’ don’t be throublin’ yerself over what she does. ’Tis plazin’ her y’are whin she sees y’re mad. Take no notice, man, an’ p’raps she’ll shtop.”

“The divil fly away wid her for a bitther ould sarpint. The vinom’s in her, sure enough. Why should I put up wid her, I’d like to know?”

“Ah, keep yer tongue between yer teeth, Jim. ’Tis too onprudent y’are. Not a worrd ye dhrop but is brought back to her be some wan. Have sinse, man. You’ll go sayin’ that to Joe Kelly, an’ he’ll have it over the town in no time, an’ some wan’ll carry it to her.”

“An’ do ye think I care a thrawneen1 for the likes ov her? Faith, not a pin. If you got yer way, Mary, ye’d have me like the man that was hanged for sayin’ nothin’. Sure, I never did a hand’s turn agin her, an’ ’tis a low, mane thrick ov her to go settin’ orange lilies over foreninst me, an’ she knowin’ me opinions.”

“Faith, I’ll not say it wasn’t, Jim, if they are orange lilies; but sure, ye don’t know rightly yet what th’are, an’ in God’s name keep quite till you do.”

The days went by. The lilies grew taller and taller. They budded, they bloomed, and, sure enough, Jim had been in the right—orange lilies they proved to be.

“They’ll mek a fine show for the twelfth of July, I’m thinkin’,” said Mrs. Macfarlane, complacently, as she walked by her beds, swinging a dripping watering-pot.

At the time of the blossoming of the orange lilies, James O’Brien was not at home, having had to go some twenty miles down the line on official business. The obnoxious flowers took advantage of his absence to make a gay show. When he returned, as luck would have it Mrs. Macfarlane was away, and had shut up the refreshment room, but had not locked it. No one locks doors in Toomevara unless their absence is to be lengthy. She had left “King William” behind, and told Joe Kelly to take care of the dog, in case he should be lonely, for she had been invited to the wedding of an old fellow servant, the late butler at Lord Dunanway’s, who was to be married that day to the steward’s daughter.

All this Joe Kelly told the stationmaster on his return, but he did not say a word about the orange lilies, being afraid of an explosion, and, as he said, “detarmined not to meddle or make, but just to let him find it out himself.”

For quite a time Jim was occupied over way-bills in his little office; but at last his attention was distracted by the long continued howling and yelping of a dog.

“Let the baste out, can’t ye?” he at length said to Kelly. “I can’t stand listening to um anny longer.”

“I was afeared ’twas run over he might be, agin’ she came back,” said Kelly, “‘an so I shut um up.”

“Sure, there’s no danger. There won’t be a thrain in for the next two hours, an’ if he was run over itself, God knows he’d be no loss. ’Tisn’t meself ‘ud grieve for um, th’ ill-favoured cur.”

“King William” was accordingly released.

When O’Brien had finished his task, he stood for a time at the office door, his hands crossed behind him, supporting his coat tails, his eyes fixed abstractedly on the sky. Presently he started for his usual walk up and down the platform, when his eye was at once caught by the flare of the stately rows of orange lilies.

“Be the Holy Poker!” he exclaimed. “But I was right. ’Tis orange th’ are, sure enough. What’ll Mary say now? Faith, ’tis lies they do be tellin’ whin they say there’s no riptiles in Ireland. That ould woman bangs Banagher, an’ Banagher bangs the divil.”

He stopped in front of the obnoxious flowers.

“Isn’t it the murthering pity there’s nothing I can plant to spite her. She has the pull over me entirely. Shamerogues makes no show at all—ye’d pass them unbeknownst—while orange lilies yeh can see a mile off. Now, who but herself ‘ud be up to the likes o’ this?”

At the moment he became aware of an extraordinary commotion among the lilies, and, looking closer, perceived “King William” in their midst, scratching as if for bare life, scattering mould, leaves, and bulbs to the four winds, and with every stroke of his hind legs dealing destruction to the carefully-tended flowers.

The sight filled Jim with sudden gladness.

“More power to the dog!” he cried, with irrepressible glee. “More power to um! Sure, he has more sinse  than his missus. ‘King William,’ indeed, an’ he rootin’ up orange lilies! Ho, ho! Tare an’ ouns! but ’tis the biggest joke that iver I hard in me life. More power to ye! Good dog!”

Rubbing his hands in an ecstasy of delight, he watched “King William” at his work of devastation, and, regretfully be it confessed, when the dog paused, animated him to fresh efforts by thrilling cries of “Rats!”

“King William” sprang wildly hither and thither, running from end to end of the beds, snapping the brittle lily stems, scattering the blossoms.

“Be gum, but it’s great! Look at um now. Cruel wars to the Queen o’ Spain if iver I seen such shport! Go it, ‘King William!’ Smash thim, me boy! Good dog! Out wid them!” roared Jim, tears of mirth streaming down his cheeks. “Faith, ’tis mad she’ll be. I’d give sixpence to see her face. O Lord! O Lord! sure, it’s the biggest joke that iver was.”

At last “King William” tired of the game, but only when every lily lay low, and Mrs. Macfarlane’s carefully tended flower beds were a chaos of broken stalks and trampled blossoms.

As O’Brien, in high good humour, having communicated the side-splitting joke to Mary and Finnerty, was busy over his account books, Kelly came in.

“She’s back,” he whispered, “an she’s neither to hold nor to bind. I was watchin’ out, an’ sure, ’twas shtruck all of a hape she was whin she seen thim lilies; an’ now I’ll take me oath she’s goin’ to come here, for, begob, she looks as cross as nine highways.”

“Letter come,” chuckled O’Brien; “I’m ready forrer.”

At this moment the office door was burst open with  violence, and Mrs. Macfarlane, in her best Sunday costume, bonnet, black gloves, and umbrella included, her face very pale save the cheek bones, where two bright pink spots burned, entered the room.

“Misther O’Brien,” she said in a high, stilted voice that trembled with rage, “will yu please to inform me the meanin’ o’ this dasthardly outrage?”

“Arrah, what outrage are ye talkin’ ov ma’am?” asked O’Brien, innocently. “Sure, be the looks ov ye I think somethin’ has upset ye entirely. Faith, ye’re lookin’ as angry as if you were vexed, as the sayin’ is.”

“Oh, to be sure. A great wonder, indeed, that I should be vexed. ‘Crabbit was that cause had!’” interrupted Mrs Macfarlane with a sneer. “You’re not decavin’ me, sir. I’m not takin in by yur pretinces, but if there’s law in the land, or justice, I’ll have it of yu.”

“Would ye mind, ma’am,” said O’Brien, imperturbably, for his superabounding delight made him feel quite calm and superior to the angry woman—“would ye mind statin’ in plain English what y’re talkin’ about for not a wan ov me knows?”

“Oh, yu son of Judas! Oh, yu deceivin’ wretch! As if it wasn’t yu that is afther desthroyin’ my flower-beds!”

“Ah, thin, it is y’r ould flower-beds y’re makin’ all this row about? Y’r dirty orange lilies’. Sure, ’tis clared out o’ the place they ought t’ve been long ago for weeds. ’Tis mesel’ that’s glad they’re gone, an’ so I tell ye plump an’ plain; bud as for me desthroyin’ them, sorra finger iver I laid on thim; I wouldn’t demane mesel’.”

“An’ if yu please, Misther O’Brien,” said Mrs.  Macfarlane with ferocious politeness, “will yu kindly mintion, if yu did not do the job, who did?”

“Faith, that’s where the joke comes in,” said O’Brien, pleasantly. “’Twas the very same baste that ruinated me roses, bad cess to him, y’r precious pet, ‘King William’!”

“Oh! is it lavin’ it on the dog y’are, yu traitorous Jesuit! The puir wee dog that never harmed yu? Sure, ’tis only a Papist would think of a mane thrick like that to shift the blame.”

The colour rose to O’Brien’s face.

“Mrs. Macfarlane, ma’am,” he said, with laboured civility, “wid yer permission we’ll lave me religion out o’ this. Maybe, if ye say much more, I might be losin’ me timper wid ye.”

“Much I mind what yu lose,” cried Mrs. Macfarlane. “It’s thransported the likes o’ yu should be for a set o’ robbin’, murderin’, desthroyin’, thraytors.”

“Have a care, ma’am, how yer spake to yer betthers. Robbin’, deceivin’, murdherin’, desthroyin’, thraytors, indeed! I like that! What brought over the lot ov yez, Williamites an’ Cromwaylians an’ English an’ Scotch, but to rob, an’ desave, an’ desthroy, an’ murdher uz, an’ stale our land, an’ bid uz go to hell or to Connaught, an’ grow fat on what was ours before iver yez came, an’ thin jibe uz for bein’ poor? Thraytors! Thraytor yerself, for that’s what the lot ov yez is. Who wants yez here at all?”

Exasperated beyond endurance, Mrs. Macfarlane struck at the stationmaster with her neat black umbrella, and had given him a nasty cut across the brow, when Kelly interfered, as well as Finnerty and Mrs. O’Brien, who rushed in, attracted by the noise. Between them  O’Brien was held back under a shower of blows, and the angry woman hustled outside, whence she retreated to her own quarters, muttering threats all the way.

“Oh, Jim, avourneen! ’tis bleedin’ y’are,” shrieked poor anxious Mary, wildly. “Oh, wirra, why did ye dhraw her on ye? Sure, I tould ye how ‘twould be. As sure as God made little apples she’ll process ye, an’ she has the quality on her side.”

“Letter,” said Jim; “much good she’ll get by it. Is it makin’ a liar ov me she’d be whin I tould her I didn’t touch her ould lilies? Sure, I’ll process her back for assaultin’ an’ battherin me. Ye all saw her, an’ me not touchin’ her, the calliagh!”2

“Begorra, ’tis thrue for him,” said Kelly. “She flagellated him wid her umbrelly, an’ sorra blow missed bud the wan that didn’t hit, and on’y I was here, an’ lit on her suddent, like a bee on a posy, she’d have had his life, so she would.”

Not for an instant did Mrs. Macfarlane forget her cause of offence, or believe O’Brien’s story that it was the dog that had destroyed her orange lilies. After some consideration she hit on an ingenious device that satisfied her as being at once supremely annoying to her enemy and well within the law. Her lilies, emblems of the religious and political faith that were in her, were gone; but she still had means to testify to her beliefs, and protest against O’Brien and all that he represented to her mind.

Next day, when the midday train had just steamed into the station, Jim was startled by hearing a wild cheer—

“Hi, ‘King William’! Hi, ‘King William’! Come back, ‘King William’! ‘King William,’ my darlin’, ‘King William’!”

The air rang with the shrill party cry, and when Jim rushed out he found that Mrs. Macfarlane had allowed her dog to run down the platform just as the passengers were alighting, and was now following him, under the pretence of calling him back. There was nothing to be done. The dog’s name certainly was “King William,” and Mrs. Macfarlane was at liberty to recall him if he strayed.

Jim stood for a moment like one transfixed.

“Faith, I b’leeve ’tis the divil’s grandmother she is,” he exclaimed.

Mrs. Macfarlane passed him with a deliberately unseeing eye. Had he been the gate-post, she could not have taken less notice of his presence, as, having made her way to the extreme end of the platform, cheering her “King William,” she picked up her dog, and marched back in triumph.

Speedily did it become evident that Mrs. Macfarlane was pursuing a regular plan of campaign, for at the arrival of every train that entered the station that day, she went through the same performance of letting loose the dog and then pursuing him down the platform, waving her arms and yelling for “King William.”

By the second challenge Jim had risen to the situation and formed his counterplot. He saw and heard her in stony silence, apparently as indifferent to her tactics as she to his presence, but he was only biding his time. No sooner did passengers alight and enter the refreshment room, than, having just given them time to be seated, he rushed up, threw open the door of his enemy’s headquarters, and, putting in his cried, cried:—

“Take yer places, gintlemin immaydiately. The thrain’s just off. Hurry up, will yez? She’s away!”

The hungry and discomfited passengers hurried out, pell mell, and Mrs. Macfarlane was left speechless with indignation.

“I bet I’ve got the whip hand ov her this time,” chuckled Jim, as he gave the signal to start.

Mrs. Macfarlane’s spirit, however, was not broken. From morning until night, whether the day was wet or fine, she greeted the arrival of each train with loud cries for “King William,” and on each occasion Jim retorted by bundling out all her customers before they could touch bite or sup.

The feud continued.

Each day Mrs. Macfarlane, gaunter, fiercer, paler, and more resolute in ignoring the stationmaster’s presence, flaunted her principles up and down the platform. Each day did Jim hurry the departure of the trains and sweep off her customers. Never before had there been such punctuality known at Toomevara, which is situated on an easy-going line, where usually the guard, when indignant tourists point out that the express is some twenty minutes’ late, is accustomed to reply,

“Why, so she is. ’Tis thrue for ye.”

One day, however, Mrs. Macfarlane did not appear. She had come out for the first train, walking a trifle feebly, and uttering her war cry in a somewhat quavering voice. When the next came, no Mrs. Macfarlane greeted it.

Jim himself was perplexed, and a little aggrieved. He had grown used to the daily strife, and missed the excitement of retorting on his foe.

“Maybe ’tis tired of it she is,” he speculated. “Time forrer. She knows now she won’t have things all her own way. She’s too domineerin’ by half.”

“What’s wrong with the ould wan, sir?” asked Joe Kelly, when he met O’Brien. “She didn’t shtir out whin she hard the thrain.”

“Faith, I dunno,” said Jim. “Hatchin’ more disturbance, I’ll bet. Faith, she’s like Conaty’s goose, nivir well but whin she’s doin’ mischief. Joe,” he said, “maybe y’ought to look in an’ see if anythin’ is wrong wid th’ ould wan.”

A moment more, and Jim heard him shouting, “Misther O’Brien, Misther O’Brien!” He ran at the sound. There, a tumbled heap, lay Mrs. Macfarlane, no longer a defiant virago, but a weak, sickly, elderly woman, partly supported on Joe Kelly’s knee, her face ghastly pale, her arms hanging limp.

“Be me sowl, but I think she’s dyin’,” cried Kelly. “She just raised her head whin she saw me, an’ wint off in a faint.”

“Lay her flat, Joe; lay her flat.”

“Lave her to me,” he said, “an’ do you run an’ tell the missus to come here at wanst. Maybe she’ll know what to do.”

Mary came in to find her husband gazing in a bewildered fashion at his prostrate enemy, and took command in a way that excited his admiration.

“Here,” said she, “give uz a hand to move her on to the seat. Jim, run home an’ get Biddy to fill two or three jars wid boilin’ wather, an’ bring thim along wid a blanket. She’s as cowld as death. Joe, fly off wid yeh for the docther.”

“What docther will I go for, ma’am?”

“The first ye can git,” said Mary, promptly beginning to chafe the inanimate woman’s hands and loosen her clothes.

When the doctor came he found Mrs. Macfarlane laid on an impromptu couch composed of two of the cushioned benches placed side by side. She was wrapped in blankets, had hot bottles to her feet and sides, and a mustard plaster over her heart.

“Bravo! Mrs. O’Brien,” he said, “I couldn’t have done better myself. I believe you have saved her life by being so quick—at least, saved it for the moment, for I think she is in for a severe illness. She will want careful nursing to pull her through.”

“She looks rale bad,” assented Mary.

“What are we to do with her?” said the doctor. “Is there no place where they would take her in?”

Mary glanced at Jim, but he did not speak.

“Sure, there’s a room in our house,” she ventured, after an awkward pause.

“The very thing,” said the doctor, “if you don’t mind the trouble, and if Mr. O’Brien does not object.”

Jim made no answer, but walked out.

“He doesn’t, docther,” cried Mary. “Sure, he has the rale good heart. I’ll run off now, an’ get the bed ready.”

As they passed Jim, who stood sulkily at the door, she contrived to squeeze his hand. “God bless yeh, me own Jim. You’ll be none the worse forrit. ’Tis no time for bearin’ malice, an’ our Blessed Lady’ll pray for yeh this day.”

Jim was silent.

“’Tis a cruel shame she should fall on uz,” he said, when his wife had disappeared; but he offered no further resistance.

Borne on an impromptu stretcher by Jim, Joe, Finnerty, and doctor, Mrs. Macfarlane was carried to  the stationmaster’s house, undressed by Mary, and put to bed in the spotlessly clean, whitewashed upper room.

The cold and shivering had now passed off, and she was burning. Nervous fever, the doctor anticipated. She raved about her dog, about Jim, about the passengers, her rent, and fifty other things that made it evident her circumstances had preyed upon her mind.

Poor Mary was afraid of her at times; but there are no trained nurses at Toomevara, and, guided by Doctor Doherty’s directions, she tried to do her best, and managed wonderfully well.

There could be no doubt Jim did not like having the invalid in the house. But this did not prevent him from feeling very miserable. He became desperately anxious that Mrs. Macfarlane should not die, and astonished Mary by bringing home various jellies and meat extracts, that he fancied might be good for the patient; but he did this with a shy and hang-dog air by no means natural to him, and always made some ungracious speech as to the trouble, to prevent Mary thinking he was sorry for the part he had played. He replied with a downcast expression to all enquiries from outsiders as to Mrs. Macfarlane’s health, but he brought her dog into the house and fed it well.

“Not for her sake, God knows,” he explained; “but bekase the poor baste was frettin’ an’ I cudn’t see him there wid no wan to look to him.”

He refused, however, to style the animal “King William,” and called it “Billy” instead, a name which it soon learned to answer.

One evening, when the whitewashed room was all aglow with crimson light that flooded through the  western window, Mrs. Macfarlane returned to consciousness. Mary was sitting by the bedside, sewing, having sent out the children in charge of Kitty to secure quiet in the house. For a long time, unobserved by her nurse, the sick woman lay feebly trying to understand. Suddenly she spoke—

“What is the matter?”

Mary jumped.

“To be sure,” she said, laying down her needlework, “’tis very bad you were intirely, ma’am; but, thanks be to God, you’re betther now.”

“Where am I?” asked Mrs. Macfarlane, after a considerable pause.

“In the station house, ma’am. Sure, don’t ye know me? I’m Mary O’Brien.”

“Mary O’Brien—O’Brien?”

“Yis, faith! Jim O’Brien’s wife.”

“An’ this is Jim O’Brien’s house?”

“Whose else id it be? But there now, don’t talk anny more. Sure, we’ll tell, ye all about it whin y’re betther. The docthor sez y’re to be kep’ quiet.”

“But who brought me here?”

“Troth, ’twas carried in ye were, an’ you near dyin’. Hush up now, will ye? Take a dhrop o’ this, an’ thry to go to shleep.”

When Jim came into his supper his wife said to him, “That craythure upstairs is mad to get away. She thinks we begrudge her the bit she ates.”

Jim was silent. Then he said, “Sure, annythin’ that’s bad she’ll b’leeve ov uz.”

“But ye’ve nivir been up to see her. Shlip into the room now, an’ ax her how she’s goin’ on. Let bygones be bygones, in the name of God.”

“I won’t,” said Jim.

“Oh, yes, ye will. Sure, afther all, though ye didn’t mane it, ye’re the cause ov it. Go to her now.”

“I don’t like.”

“Ah, go. ’Tis yer place, an’ you sinsibler than she is. Go an’ tell her to shtay till she’s well. Faith, I think that undher all that way of hers she’s softher than she looks. I tell ye, Jim, I seen her cryin’ over the dog, bekase she thought ’twas th’ only thing that loved her.”

Half pushed by Mary, Jim made his way up the steep stair, and knocked at the door of Mrs. Macfarlane’s attic.

“Come in,” said a feeble voice, and he stumbled into the room.

When Mrs. Macfarlane saw who it was, a flame lit in her hollow eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said, with grim politeness, “that yu find me here, Misther O’Brien; but it isn’t my fault. I wanted tu go a while ago, an’ your wife wouldn’t let me.”

“An’ very right she was; you’re not fit for it. Sure, don’t be talkin’ ov goin’ till ye’re better, ma’am,” said Jim, awkwardly. “Y’re heartily welcome for me. I come up to say—to say, I hope y’ll be in no hurry to move.”

“Yu’re very good, but it’s not to be expected I’d find myself easy under this roof, where, I can assure yu, I’d never have come of my own free will; an’ I apologise to yu, Misther O’Brien, for givin’ so much trouble—not that I could help myself.”

“Sure, ’tis I that should apologise,” blurted out Jim; “an’ rale sorry I am—though, maybe, ye won’t b’lieve me—that I ever dhruv the customers out.”

For a long time Mrs. Macfarlane did not speak.

“I could forgive that easier than your rootin’ up my lilies,” she said, in a strained voice.

“But that I never did. God knows an’ sees me this night, an’ He knows that I never laid a finger on thim. I kem out, an’ foun’ the dog there scrattin’ at thim, an’ if this was me last dyin’ worrd, ’tis thrue.”

“An’ ’twas really the wee dog?”

“It was, though I done wrong in laughin’ at him, an’ cheerin’ him on; but, sure, ye wouldn’t mind me whin I told ye he was at me roses, an’ I thought it sarved ye right, an’ that ye called him ‘King William’ to spite me.”

“So I did,” said Mrs. Macfarlane, and, she added, more gently, “I’m sorry now.”

“Are ye so?” said Jim, brightening. “Faith, I’m glad to hear ye say it. We was both in the wrong, ye see, an’ if you bear no malice, I don’t.”

“Yu have been very good to me, seein’ how I misjudged you,” said Mrs. Macfarlane.

“Not a bit ov it; an’ ’twas the wife anyhow, for, begorra, I was hardened against ye, so I was.”

“An’ yu’ve spent yer money on me, an’ I——”

“Sure, don’t say a worrd about id. I owed it to you, so I did, but, begorra, ye won’t have to complain ov wantin’ custom wanst yer well.”

Mrs. Macfarlane smiled wanly.

“No chance o’ that, I’m afraid. What with my illness an’ all that went before it, business is gone. Look at the place shut up this three weeks an’ more.”

“Not it,” said Jim. “Sure, sence y’ve been sick I put our little Kitty, the shlip, in charge of the place, an’ she’s made a power o’ money for ye, an’ she on’y  risin’ sixteen, an’ havin’ to help her mother an’ all. She’s a clever girl, so she is, though I sez it, an’ she ruz the prices all round. She couldn’t manage with the cakes, not knowin’ how to bake thim like yerself; but sure I bought her plenty ov biscuits at Connolly’s; and her mother cut her sandwidges, an’ made tay, an’ the dhrinks was all there as you left them, an’ Kitty kep’ count ov all she sould.”

Mrs. Macfarlane looked at him for a moment queerly then she drew the sheet over her face, and began to sob.

Jim, feeling wretchedly uncomfortable, crept downstairs.

“Go to the craythure, Mary,” he said. “Sure, she’s cryin’. We’ve made it up—an’ see here, let her want for nothin’.”

Mary ran upstairs, took grim Mrs. Macfarlane in her arms, and actually kissed her; and Mrs. Macfarlane’s grimness melted away, and the two women cried together for sympathy.

Now, as the trains come into Toomevara station, Jim goes from carriage to carriage making himself a perfect nuisance to passengers with well-filled luncheon baskets. “Won’t ye have a cup o’ tay, me lady? There’s plinty ov time, an’ sure, we’ve the finest tay here that you’ll get on the line. There’s nothin’ like it this side o’ Dublin; A glass o’ whiskey, sir? ’Tis on’y the best John Jameson that’s kep’, or sherry wine? Ye won’t be shtoppin’ agin annywheres that you’ll like it as well. Sure, if ye don’t want to get out—though there’s plinty o’ time—I’ll give the ordher an’ have it sent over to yez. Cakes, ma’am, for the little ladies? ’Tis a long journey,  an’ maybe they’ll be hungry—an apples? Apples is mighty good for childher. She keeps fine apples if ye like thim.”

Mrs. Macfarlane has grown quite fat, is at peace with all mankind, takes the deepest interest in the O’Brien family, and calls her dog “Billy.”

 A blade of grass.