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Darby O'Gill and the Good People/The Banshee's Comb/Chapter 4

< Darby O'Gill and the Good People‎ | The Banshee's Comb

CHAPTER IV
THE COSTA BOWER

I

So the green-dhressed little army, all in the sweet, rosy light they made, wint marchin', to the merry music of the pipes, over the tree-bowered roadway, past the ha'nted brakes up the shivering hills, an' down into the waiting dales, making the grim night maylodious.

For a long space not a worrud, good, bad, or indifferent, said Darby.

But a sparrow woke her dhrowsy childher to look at the beautiful purcession, an' a robin called excited to her sleepy neighbours, the linnets an' the rabbits an' the hares, an' hundhreds like them crowded daylighted through the bushes, an' stood peerin' through the glistening leaves as their well-known champyions wint by. A dozen wentursome young owls flew from bough to bough, follying along, crackin' good-natured but friendly jokes at their friends, the fairies. Thin other birds came flying from miles around, twitthering jubilaytion.

But the stern-jawed, frowny-eyed Little People for once answered back never a worrud, but marched stiff an' silent, as sojers should. You'd swear 'twas the Enniskillins or 'twas the Eighteenth Hussars that 'twas in it.

"Isn't that Gineral Julius Sayser at the head?" says one brown owl, flapping an owdacious wing at Phadrig Oge.

"No!" cries his brother, another young villian. "'Tis only the Jook of Wellington. But look at the bothered face on Darby O'Gill! Musha, are the Good People goin' to hang Darby?"

And faix, thin, sure enough, there was mighty little elaytion on the faytures of our hayro. For, as he came marchin' along, silent an' moody, beside the King, what to do with the banshee's comb was botherin' the heart out of him. If he had only trun it to the ghosts whin he was there at the mill! But that turrible laugh had crunched all sense an' rayson out of him, so that he forgot to do that very wise thing. Ochone, now the ghosts knew he had it; so, to trow it away'd do no good, onless they'd find it afther. One thing was sartin—he must some way get it back to the banshee, or else be ha'nted all the rest of his days.

He was sore-hearted, too, at the King, an' a bit crass-timpered bekase the little man had stayed away so long frum wisitin' with him.

But at last the knowledgeable man found his tongue. "Be me faix, King," he complained, "'tis a cure for sore eyes to see ye. I might have been dead an' buried an' you none the wiser," says he, sulky.

"Sure, I've been out of the counthry a fortnit," says the King. "And I've only rayturned within the hour," he says. "I wint on a suddin call to purvent a turrible war betwixt the Frinch fairies and the German fairies. I've been for two weeks on an island in the River Ryan, betwixt France an' Germany. The river is called afther an Irishman be the name of Ryan."

"At laste ye might have sint me wurrud," says Darby.

"I didn't think I'd be so long gone," says the fairy; "but the disputaytion was thraymendous," he says.

The little man dhrew himself up dignayfied an' scowled solemn up at Darby. "They left it for me to daycide," he says, "an' this was the contintion:

"Fufty years ago a swan belongin' to the Frinch fairies laid a settin' of eggs on that same island, an' thin comes along a German swan, an' what does the impident craythure do but set herself down on the eggs laid be the Frinch swan an' hatched thim. Afther the hatchin' the German min claimed the young ones, but the Frinchmen pray-imp-thurribly daymanded thim back, d'ye mind. An' the German min dayfied thim, d'ye see. So, of course, the trouble started. For fufty years it has been growin', an' before fightin', as a last ray sort, they sint for me.

"Well, I saw at once that at the bottom of all was the ould, ould question, which has been disthurbin' the worruld an' dhrivin' people crazy for three thousand years."

"I know," says Darby, scornful, "'twas whither the hin that laid the egg or the hin that hatched the egg is the mother of the young chicken."

"An' nothin' else but that!" cried the King, surprised. "Now, what d'ye think I daycided?" he says.

Now, yer honour, I'll always blame Darby for not listening to the King's daycision, bekase 'tis a matther I've studied meself considherable, an' never could rightly con-clude; but Darby at the time was so bothered that he only said, in rayply to the King:

"Sure, it's little I know, an' sorra little I care," he says, sulky. "I've something more important than hin's eggs throubling me mind, an' maybe ye can help me," he says, anxious.

"Arrah, out with it, man," says the King. "We'll find a way, avourneen," he says, cheerful.

With that Darby up an' toult everything that had happened Halloween night an' since, an', indeed, be sayin': "Now, here's that broken piece of comb in me pocket, an' what to do with it I don't know. Will ye take it to the banshee, King?" he says.

The King turned grave as a goat. "I wouldn't touch that thing in yer pocket, good friends as we are, to save yer life—not for a hundhred pounds. It might give them power over me. Yours is the only mortial hand that ever touched the banshee's comb, an' yours is the hand that should raystore it."

"Oh, my, look at that, now," says Darby, in despair, nodding his head very solemn.

"Besides," says the King, without noticin' him, "there's only one ghost in Croaghmah I 'ssociate with—an' that's Shaun. They are mostly oncultavayted, an' I almost said raydundant. Although I'd hate to call anyone raydundant onless I had to," says the just-minded ould man.

"I'll trow it here in the road an' let some of them find it," says Darby, dusperate. "I'll take the chanst," says he.

The King was shocked, an', trowing up a warnin' hand, he says:

"Be no manner of manes," the fairy says, "you forget that thim ghosts were once min an' women like yerself, so whin goold's consarned they're not to be thrusted. If one should find the comb he mightn't give it to the banshee at all—he might turn 'bezzler an' 'buzzle it. No, no, you must give it to herself pursnal, or else you an' Bridget an' the childher'll be ha'nted all yer days. An' there's no time to lose, ayther," says he.

"But Bridget an' the childher's waitin' for me this minute," wailed Darby. "An' the pony, what's become of her? An' me supper?" he cried.

A little lad who was marchin' just ahead turned an' spoke up.

"The pony's tied in the stable, an' Bothered Bill has gone sneakin' off to McCloskey's," the little man says. "I saw thim as I flew past."

"Phadrig!" shouted the King. "Donnell! Conn! Nial! Phelim!" he called.

With that the little min named rose from the ranks, their cloaks spread, an' come flyin' back like big green buttherflies, an' they sthopped huvering in the air above Darby an' the King.

"What's wanted?" axed Phelim.

"Does any of yez know where the banshee's due at this hour?" the King rayplied.

"She's due in County Roscommon at Castle O'Flinn, if I don't misraymimber," spoke up the little fiddler. "But I'm thinking that since Halloween she ain't worrukin' much, an' purhaps she won't lave Croaghmah."

"Well, has any one of yez seen Shaun the night, I dunno?" axed the master.

"Sorra one of me knows," says Phadrig. "Nor I," "Nor I," "Nor I," cried one afther the other.

"Well, find where the banshee's stayin'," says King Brian. "An' some of yez, exceptin' Phadrig, go look for Shaun, an' tell him I want to see him purtic'lar," says the King.

The foive huvering little lads wanished like a candle that's blown out.

"As for you, Phadrig," wint on the masther fairy, "tell the ridgiment they're to guard this townland the night, an' keep the ghosts out of it. Begin at once!" he commanded.

The worruds wern't well said till the whole ridgiment had blown itself out, an' agin the night closed in as black as yer hat. But as it did Darby caught a glimpse from afar of the goolden light of his own open door, an' he thought he could see on the thrashol the shadow of Bridget, with one of the childher clinging to her skirt, an' herself watchin' with a hand shading her eyes.

"Do you go home to yer supper, me poor man," says the King, "an' meantime I'll engage Shaun to guide us to the banshee. He's a great comerade of hers, an' he'll paycificate her if anyone can."

The idee of becomin' acquainted pursonal with the ghosts, an' in a friendly, pleasant way have dalings with them, was a new sinsation to Darby. "What'll I do now?" he axed.

"Go home to yer supper," says the King, "an' meet me by the withered three at Conroy's crass-roads on the sthroke of twelve. There'll be little danger to-night, I'm thinkin', but if ye should run against one of thim spalpeens trow the bit of comb at him; maybe he'll take it to the banshee an' maybe he won't. At any rate, 'tis the best yez can do."

"Don't keep me waitin' on the crass-roads, whatever else happens," warned Darby.

"I'll do me best endayvour," says the King. "But be sure to racognise me whin I come; make no mistake, for ye'll have to spake first," he says.

They were walking along all this time, an' now had come to Darby's own stile. The lad could see the heads of the childher bunched up agin the windy-pane. The King sthopped, an', laying a hand on Darby's arrum, spoke up umpressive:

"If I come to the crass-roads as a cow with a rope about me horns ye'll lade me," he says. "If I come as a horse with a saddle on me back, yez'll ride me," says he. "But if I come as a pig with a rope tied to me lift hind leg, ye'll dhrive me," says the King.

"Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, tare an' ages!" says Darby.

"But," says the King, wavin' his hand aginst inthurruptions, "so that we'll know aich other we'll have a by-worrud bechuxt us. An' it'll be poethry," he says. "So that I'll know that 'tis you that's in it ye'll say 'Cabbage an' bacon'; an' so that ye'll know that 'tis me that's in it I'll answer, 'Will sthop the heart achin'.' Cabbage an' bacon will sthop the heart achin'," says the King, growin' unwisible. "That's good, satisfyin' poethry," he says. But the last worruds were sounded out of the empty air an' a little way above, for the masther of the night-time had wanished. At that Darby wint in to his supper.

I won't expaytiate to yer honour on how our hayro spint the avenin' at home, an' how, afther Bridget an' the childher were in bed, that a growin' daysire to meet an' talk sociable with a ghost fought with tunty black fears an' almost bate them. But whinever his mind hesitayted, as it always did at the thought of the Costa Bower, a finger poked into his weskit pocket where the broken bit of comb lay hid, turned the scale.

Howandever, at length an' at last, just before midnight our hayro, dhressed once more for the road, wint splashin' an' ploddin' up the lane toward Conroy's crass-roads.


II

A man is never so brave as whin sittin' ferninst his own comfortable fire, a hot supper asleep in his chist, a steamin' noggin of flaygrant punch in his fist, an' a well-thried pipe betwixt his teeth. At such times he rumynates on the ould ancient hayroes, an' he daycides they were no great shakes, afther all. They had the chanst to show themselves, an' that's the only difference betwixet himself an' themselves. But whin he's flung sudden out of thim pleasant surcumstances, as Darby was, to go chargin' around in the darkness, hunting unknown an' unwisible dangers, much of that courage oozes out of him.

An' so the sthrangest of all sthrange things was, that this night, whin 'twas his fortune to be taken up be the Costa Bower, that a dhread of that death-coach was present in his mind from the minute he shut the door on himself, an' it outweighed all other fears.

In spite of the insurance that King Brian had given, in spite of the knowledge that his friends, the Good People, were flyin' hither an' thither over that townland, there crept into his sowl an' fastened itself there the chanst that the headless dhriver might slip past thim all an' gobble him up.

In wain he tould himself that there were a million spots in Ireland where the death-carriage was more likely to be than in his own path. But in spite of all raysons, a dhreading, shiverin' feelin' was in his bones, so that as he splashed along he was flinging anxious looks behind or thremblin' at the black, wavering shadows in front.

Howsumever, there was some comfort to know that the weather was changin' for the betther. Strong winds had swept the worst of the storm out over the ocean, where it lingered slow, growlin' an' sputtherin' lightening.

A few scatthered, frowning clouds, trowing ugly looks at the moon, sulked behind.

"Lord love your shining face," says Darby, looking up to where the full moon, big as the bottom of a tub, shone bright an' clear over his head. "An' it's I that hopes that the blaggard of a cloud I see creeping over at you from Sleive-na-mon won't raich you an' squinch your light before I meet up with Brian Connors."

The moon, in answer, brushed a cloud from her face, and shed a clearer, fuller light, that made the flooded fields an' dhropping threes quiver an' glisten.

On top of the little mound known as Conroy's Hill, an' which is just this side of where the roads crass, the friend of the fairies looked about over the lonesome counthry-side.

Here and there gleamed a distant farm-house, a still white speck in the moonlight. Only at Con Kelley's, which was a good mile down the road, was a friendly spark of light to be seen, an' that spark was so dim and so far that it only pressed down the loneliness heavier on Darby's heart.

"Wisha," says Darby, "how much I'd druther be there merry-makin' with the boys an' girls than standin' here lonesome and cowld, waiting for the divil knows what."

He sthrained his eyes for a sight of a horse, or a cow, or a pig, or anything that might turn out to be Brian Connors. The only thing that moved was the huge dark cloud that stretched up from Sleive-na-mon, and its heavy edge already touched the rim of the moon.

He started down the hill.

The withered three at the cross-roads where he was to meet the King waved its blackened arms and lifted them up in warning as he came toward it, an' it dhripped cowld tears upon his caubeen and down his neck when he stood quaking in its shadows.

"If the headless coachman were to ketch me here," he whumpered, "and fling me into his carriage, not a sowl on earth would ever know what became of me.

"I wish I wasn't so knowledgeable," he says, half cryin'. "I wish I was as ignorant about ghosts an' fairies as little Mrs. Bradigan, who laughs at them. The more you know the more you need know. Musha, there goes the moon."

And at them words the great blaggard cloud closed in on the moon and left the worruld as black as yer hat.

That wasn't the worst of it by no manner of manes, for at the same instant there came a rush of wind, an' with it a low, hollow rumble that froze the marrow in Darby's bones. He sthrained his eyes toward the sound, but it was so dark he couldn't see his hand before his face.

He thried to run, but his legs turned to blocks of wood and dayfied him.

All the time the rumble of the turrible coach dhrew nearer an' nearer, an' he felt himself helpless as a babe. He closed his eyes to shut out the horror of the headless dhriver an' of the poor, dead men laning back agin the sate.

At that last minute a swift hope that the King might be within hearing lent him a flash of strength, and he called out the by-word.

"Cabbage an' bacon!" he cried out, dispairing. "Cabbage an' bacon'll stop the heart achin'!" he roared, dismally, an' then he gave a great gasp, for there was a splash in the road ferninst the three, an' a thraymendous black coach, with four goint horses an' a coachman on the box, stood still as death before him.

The dhriver wore a brown greatcoat, the lines hung limp in his fingers, an' Darby's heart sthopped palpitaytin' at the sight of the two broad, headless chowlders.

The knowledgeable man sthrove to cry out agin, but he could only croak like a raven.

"Cabbage an' bacon'll stop the heart achin'," he says.

Something moved inside the coach. "Foolish man," a woice cried, "you've not only guv the by-word, but at the same time you've shouted out its answer!"

At the woice of the King—for 'twas the King who spoke—a great wakeness came over Darby, an' he laned limp agin the three.

"Suppose," the King went on, "that it was an inemy you'd met up with instead of a friend. Tare an' 'ounds! he'd have our saycret and maybe he'd put the comeither on ye. Shaun," he says, up to the dhriver, "this is the human bean we're to take with us down to Croaghmah to meet the banshee."

From a place down on the sate on the far side of the dhriver a deep, slow woice, that sounded as though it had fur on it, spoke up:

"I'm glad to substantiate any sarvice that will in any way conjuice to the amaylyro-ra-tion of any friend of the raynounded King Brian Connors, even though that friend be only a human bean. I was a humble human bean meself three or four hundhred years ago."

At that statement Darby out of politeness thried to look surprised.

"You must be a jook or an earl, or some other rich pillosopher, to have the most raynouned fairy in the worruld take such a shine to you," wint on the head.

"Haven't ye seen enough to make yerself like him?" cried the King, raising half his body through the open windy. "Didn't ye mark how ca'm an' bould he stood waitin' for ye, whin any other man in Ireland would be this time have wore his legs to the knees runnin' from ye? Where is the pillosopher except Darby O'Gill who would have guessed that 'twas meself that was in the coach, an' would have flung me the by-worrud so careless and handy?" cried the King, his face blazing with admyration.

The worruds put pride into the heart of our hayro, an' pride the worruld over is the twin sisther of courage. And then, too, whilst the King was talkin' that deep, obsthreperous cloud which had covered the sky slipped off the edge of the moon an' hurried to jine its fellows, who were waiting for it out over the ocean. And the moon, to make a-minds for its late obscuraytion, showered down sudden a flood of such cheerful, silver light that the drooping, separate leaves and the glistening blades of grass lept up clane an' laughin' to the eye. Some of that cheer wint into Darby's breast, an' with it crept back fresh his ould confidence in his champyion, the King.

But the headless dhriver was talking. "O'Gill," says the slow woice agin, "did I hear ye say O'Gill, Brian Connors? Surely not one of the O'Gills of Ballinthubber?"

Darby answered rayluctant an' haughty, for he had a feeling that the monsther was goin' to claim relaytionship, an' the idee put a bad taste in his mouth. "All me father's people came from Ballinthubber," he says.

"Come this or come that," says the deep woice, thremblin' with excitement, "I'll have one look at ye." No sooner said than done; for with that sayin' the coachman thwisted, an' picking up an extra'onary big head from the sate beside him, hilt it up in his two hands an' faced it to the road. 'Twas the face of a goint. The lad marked that its wiry red whuskers grew close undher its eyes, an' the flaming hair of the head curled an' rowled down to where the chowlders should have been. An' he saw, too, that the nose was wide an' that the eyes were little. An uglier face you couldn't wish to obsarve.

But as he looked, the boy saw the great lips tighten an' grow wide; the eyelids half closed, an' the head gave a hoarse sob; the tears thrickled down its nose. The head was cryin'.

First Darby grew oncomfortable, then he felt insulted to be cried at that way be a total sthranger. An' as the tears rowled faster an' faster, an' the sobs came louder an' louder, an' the ugly eyes kep' leering at him affectionate, he grew hot with indignaytion.

Seeing which, the head spoke up, snivelling:

"Plaze don't get pugnaycious nor yet disputaytious," it begged, betwixt sobs. "'Tisn't yer face that hurts me an' makes me cry. I've seen worse—a great dale worse—many's the time. But 'tis the amazin' fam'ly raysimblance that's pathrifying me heart."

The dhriver lifted the tail of his coat an' wiped the head's two weepin' eyes. "'Twas in Ballinthubber I was born an' in Ballinthubber I was rared; an' it's there I came to me misfortune through love of a purty, fair maid named Margit Ellen O'Gill. There was a song about it," he says.

"I've heerd it many an' many the time," says the King, noddin', sympathisin', "though not for the last hundhred years or so." Darby glared, scornful, at the King.

"Vo! Vo! Vo!" wailed the head, "but you're like her. If it wasn't for yer bunchy red hair, an' for the big brown wen that was on her forehead, ye'd be as like as two pase."

"Arrah," says Darby, brustlin', "I'm ashamed to see a man of yer sinse an' station," he says, "an' high dictation——"

"Lave off!" broke in the King, pulling Darby be the sleeve. "Come inside! Whatever else you do, rayspect the sintimintalities—there all we have to live for, ghost or mortial," says he.

So, grumbling, Darby took a place within the coach beside his friend. He filled his poipe, an' was borrying a bit of fire from that of the King, whin looking up he saw just back of the dhriver's seat, and opening into the carriage, a square hole of about the height an' the width of yer two hands. An' set agin the hole, starin' affectionate down at him, was the head, an' it smiling langwidging.

"Be this an' be that," Darby growled low to the King, "if he don't take his face out of that windy, ghost or no ghost, I'll take a poke at him!"

"Be no manner of manes," says the King, anxious. "What'd we do without him? We'll be at Croaghmah in a few minutes, then he needn't bother ye."

"Why don't ye dhrive on?" says Darby, lookin' up surly at the head. "Why don't ye start?"

"We're goin' these last three minutes," smiled Shaun; "we're comin' up to Kilmartin churchyard now."

"Have you passed Tom Grogan's public-house?" axed the King, starting up, anxious.

"I have, but I can turn back agin," says the face, lighting up, intherested.

"They keep the best whusky there in this part of Ireland," says the King. "Would ye mind steppin' in an' bringing us out a sup, Darby agra?"

Misthress Tom Grogan was a tall, irritated woman, with sharp corners all over her, an' a timper that was like an east wind. She was standing at her own door, argyin' with Garge McGibney an' Wullum Broderick, an' daling them out harrud names, whilst her husband, Tom, a mild little man, stood within laning on the bar, smoking saydately. Garge an' Wullum were argying back at Misthress Grogan, tellin' her what a foine-looking, rayspectable woman she was, an' couldn't they have one dhrop more before going home, whin they saw coming sliding along through the air toward them, about four feet above the ground, a daycint-dhressed man, sitting comfortable, his poipe in his mouth an' one leg crossed over the other. The sthranger stopped in the air not foive feet away, and in the moonlight they saw him plain knock the ashes from his poipe an' stick it in the rim of his caubeen.

They ketched hould of aich other, gasping as he stepped down out of the air to the ground, an' wishin' them the top of the avening, he brushed past, walked bould to the bar an' briskly called for three jorums of whusky. Tom, obliverous—for he hadn't seen—handed out the dhrinks, an' the sthranger, natural as you plaze, imptied one, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand an' started for the door, carrying the two other jorums.

Tom, of course, follyed out to see who was in the road, and then he clutched hould of the three others, an' the four, grippin' aich other like lobsters bilin' in the pot, clung, spacheless, swaging back an' forth.

An' sure 'twas no wonder, for they saw the sthrange man lift the two cups into the naked air, an' they saw plain the two jorums lave his hands, tip themselves slowly over until the bottoms were uppermost—not one dhrop of the liquor spillin' to the ground. They saw no more, for they aich gave a different kind of roar whin Darby turned to bring back the empty vesels. The next second Tom Grogan was flying like a hunted rabbit over the muddy petatie-field behind his own stable, whilst Wullum Broderick an' Garge McGibney were dashin' furious afther him like Skibberberg hounds. But Mrs. Grogan didn't run away, bekase she was on her own thrashol', lying on the flat of her back, and for the first time in her life spacheless.

Howandever, with a rumble an' a roar, the coach with its thravellers wint on its way.

The good liquor supplied all which that last sight lacked that was needful to put our three hayroes in good humour with thimselves an' with aich other, so that it wasn't long before their throubles, bein' forgot, they were convarsing sociable an' fumiliar, one with the other.

Darby, to improve his informaytion, was sthriving to make the best of the sitiwation be axin' knowledgeable questions. "What kind of disposition has the banshee, I dunno?" he says, afther a time.

"A foine creachure, an' very rayfined, only a bit too fond of crying an' wailing," says Shaun.

"Musha, I know several livin' women that cap fits," says the knowledgeable man. "Sure, does she do nothin' but wail death keens? Has she no good love-ballads or songs like that? I'd think she'd grow tired," he says.

"Arrah, don't be talkin'!" says Shaun. "'Tis she who can sing them. She has one in purticular—the ballad of 'Mary McGinnis'—that I wisht ye could hear her at," he says.

"The song has three splendid chunes to it, an' the chune changes at aich varse. I wisht I had it all, but I'll sing yez what I have," he says. With that the head began to sing, an' a foine, deep singin' woice it had, too, only maybe a little too roarin' for love-ballads:


"Come all ye thrue lovers, where'er yez may be,
Likewise ye decayvers be land or be sea;
I hope that ye'll listen with pity to me
Since the jew'l of me life is a thraitor."


"Here's where the chune changes," says the head, lickin' his lips.


"On goin' to church last Sunday me thrue love passed me by,
I knew her mind was changed be the twinklin' of her eye;
I knew her mind was changed, which caused me for to moan,
'Tis a terrible black misfortin to think she cowld has grown."


"That's what I call rale poethry," says Darby.

"There's no foiner," says the King, standing up on the sate, his face beaming.

"The next varse'll make yez cry salt tears," says Shaun. An' he sang very affectin':


"Oh, dig me a grave both large, wide, an' deep,
Art lay me down gently, to take me long sleep;
Put a stone at me head an' a stone at me feet,
Since I cannot get Mary McGinnis."


"Faith, 'tis a foine, pittiful song," says Darby, "an' I'd give a great dale if I only had it," says he.

"Musha, who knows; maybe ye can get it," says the ould King, with a wink. "Ye may daymand the favours of the three wishes for bringing her what yer bringin'," he whuspered. "Shaun!" he says, out loud, "do ye think the banshee'll give that song for the bringing back of the lost comb, I dunno?"

"I dunno meself," says the head, jubious.

"Bekase if she would, here's the man who has the comb, an' he's bringin' it back to her."

The head gave a start and its eyes bulged with gladness.

"Then it's the lucky man I am entirely," he says. "For she promised to stick me head on and to let me wear it purmanent, if I'd only bring tidings of the comb," says Shaun. "She's been in a bad way since she lost it. You know the crachure can sing only whin she's combing her hair. Since the comb's broke her woice is cracked scand'lous, an' she's bitther ashamed, so she is. But here's Croaghmah right before us. Will yez go in an' take a dhrop of something?" says he.

Sticking out his head, Darby saw towering up in the night's gloom bleak Croaghmah, the mountain of the ghosts; and, as he thought of the thousands of shivering things inside, an' of the onpleasant feelings they'd given him at Chartres' mill a few hours before, a doubt came into his mind as to whether it were best to trust himself inside. He might never come out.

Howandever, the King spoke up sayin', "Thank ye kindly, Shaun, but ye know well that yerself an' one or two others are the only ghosts I 'ssociate with, so we'll just step out, an' do you go in yerself an' tell the banshee we're waitin'. Rayturn with her, Shaun, for ye must take Darby back."

With that the two hayroes dayscinded from the coach, an' glad enough was Darby to put his brogues safe an' sound on the road agin.

All at once the side of the mountain ferninst them opened with a great crash, an' Shaun, with the coach an' horses, disaypeared in a rush, an' were swolleyd up be the mountain, which closed afther thim. Darby was blinkin' an' shiverin' beside the King, when sudden, an' without a sound, the banshee stood before them.

She was all in white, an' her yallow hair sthrealed to the ground. The weight an' sorrow of ages were on her pale face.

"Is that you, Brian Connors?" she says. "An' is that one with you the man who grabbled me?"

"Your most obadient," says the King, bowin' low; "it was a accident," says he.

"Well, accident or no accident," she says, savare, "'tis the foine lot of throuble he's caused me, an' 'tis the illigant lot of throuble he'd a had this night if you hadn't saved him," she says. The banshee spoke in a hollow woice, which once in a while'd break into a squeak.

"Let bygones be bygones, ma'am, if you plaze," says Darby, "an' I've brought back yer comb, an' by your lave I ax the favour of three wishes," says he.

Some way or other he wasn't so afeared now that the King was near, an' besides one square, cool look at any kind of throuble—even if 'tis a ghost—takes half the dhread from it.

"I have only two favours to grant any mortial man," says she, "an' here they are." With that she handed Darby two small black stones with things carved on thim.

"The first stone'll make you onwisible if you rub the front of it, an' 'twill make you wisible again if you rub the back of it. Put the other stone in yer mouth an' ye can mount an' ride the wind. So Shaun needn't dhrive yez back," she says.

The King's face beamed with joy.

"Oh, be the hokey, Darby me lad," says he, "think of the larks we'll have thravellin' nights together over Ireland ground, an' maybe we'll go across the say," he says.

"But fairies can't cross runnin' water," says Darby, wondherin'.

"That's all shuperstition," says the King. "Didn't I cross the river Ryan? But, ma'am," says he, "you have a third favour, an' one I'm wishin' for mightilly meself, an' that is, that ye'll taiche us the ballad of 'Mary McGinnis.'"

The banshee blushed. "I have a cowld," says she. "'Tis the way with singers," says the King, winkin' at Darby, "but we'll thank ye to do yer best, ma'am," says he.

Well, the banshee took out her comb, an' fastening to it the broken ind, she passed it through her hair a few times an' began the song.

At first her woice was purty wake an' thrimblin', but the more she combed the sthronger it grew, till at last it rose high and clear, and sweet and wild as Darby'd heerd it that Halloween night up at McCarthy's.

The two hayroes stood in the shadow of a three, Darby listening and the King busy writing down the song. At the last worrud the place where she had been standing flashed empty an' Darby never saw her again.

I wisht I had all the song to let your honour hear it, an' maybe I'll learn it from Darby be the next time ye come this way, an' I wisht I had time to tell your honour how Darby, one day havin' made himself onwisible, lost the stone, and how Bothered Bill Donahue found it, and how Bill, rubbin' it be accident, made himself onwisible, an' of the turrible time Darby had a-finding him.

But here's Kilcuny, an' there's the inn, an'—thank ye! God bless yer honour!


THE END