“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
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
“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
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
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
“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
“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
“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’,
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
“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
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
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
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
Jim was silent.
“’Tis a cruel shame she should fall on uz,” he said,
when his wife had disappeared; but he offered no
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
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?”
“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
“In the station house, ma’am. Sure, don’t ye know
me? I’m Mary 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
“Come in,” said a feeble voice, and he stumbled into
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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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.”