Darby O'Gill and the Good People/The Convarsion of Father Cassidy

The Convarsion of Father Cassidy

"Itould you how on cowld winther nights whin Bridget and the childher were in bed, ould Brian Connors, King of the Fairies, used to sit visitin' at Darby O'Gill's own fireside. But I never tould you of the wild night whin the King faced Father Cassidy there.

Darby O'Gill sat at his own kitchen fire the night afther Mrs. Morrisey's burying, studyin' over a gr-r-reat daybate that was heldt at her wake.

Half-witted Red Durgan begun it be asking loud an' sudden of the whole company, "Who was the greatest man that ever lived in the whole worruld? I want to know purtic'lar, an' I'd like to know at once," he says.

At that the dayliberations started.

Big Joey Hooligan, the smith, hildt out for Julius Sayser, bekase Sayser had throunced the widdy woman Clayopathra.

Maurteen Cavanaugh, the little schoolmaster, stood up for Bonyparte, an' wanted to fight Dinnis Moriarity for disputin' agin the Frenchman.

Howsumever, the starter of the rale excitement was ould Mrs. Clancy. She was not what you'd call a great histhorian, but the parish thought her a foine, sinsible woman. She said that the greatest man was Nebbycodnazer, the King of the Jews, who ate grass like a cow and grew fat on it.

"Could Julius Sayser or Napoleon Bonyparte do as much?" she axed.

Well, purty soon everyone was talking at once, hurling at aich other, as they would pavin'-stones, the names of poets an' warriors an' scholars.

But afther all was said an' done, the mourners wint away in the morning with nothing settled.

So the night afther, while Darby was warming his shins before his own turf fire in deep meditaytion and wise cogitaytion and ca'm contemplaytion over these high conversations, the Master of the Good People flew ragin' into the kitchen.

"Darby O'Gill, what do you think of your wife Bridget?" says he, fiercely.

"Faix, I don't know what particular thing she's done," says Darby, rubbing his shins and lookin' troubled, "but I can guess it's something mighty disagrayable. She wore her blue petticoat and her brown shawl whin she went away this morning, and I always expect ructions whin she puts on that shuit of clothes. Thin agin, she looked so sour and so satisfied whin she came back that I'm worried bad in my mind; you don't know how uncomfortable she can make things sometimes, quiet as she looks," says he.

"And well you may be worried, dacint man!" says the ruler of Sleive-na-mon; "you'll rage and you'll roar whin ye hear me. She wint this day to Father Cassidy and slandhered me outrageous," he says. "She tould him that you and Maureen were colloguing with a little ould, wicked, thieving fairy-man, and that if something wasn't done at once agin him the sowls of both of ye would be desthroyed entirely."

Whin Darby found 'twas not himself that was being bothered, but only the King, he grew aisier in his feelings. "Sure you wouldn't mind women's talk," says he, waving his hand in a lofty way. "Many a good man has been given a bad name by them before this, and will be agin—you're not the first by any manes," says he. "If Bridget makes you a bad repitation, think how many years you have to live it down in. Be sinsible, King!" he says.

"But I do mind, and I must mind!" bawled the little fairy-man, every hair and whusker bristling, "for this minute Father Cassidy is putting the bridle and saddle on his black hunter, Terror; he has a prayer-book in his pocket, and he's coming to read prayers over me and to banish me into the say. Hark! listen to that," he says.

As he spoke, a shrill little voice broke into singing outside the window.

"Oh, what'll you do if the kittle biles over,
Sure, what'll you do but fill it agin;
Ah, what'll you do if you marry a sojer,
But pack up your clothes and go marchin' with him."

"That's the signal!" says the King, all excited; "he's coming and I'll face him here at this hearth, but sorrow foot he'll put over that threshol' till I give him lave. Then we'll have it out face to face like men ferninst this fire!"

Whin Darby heard those words great fright struck him.

"If a hair of his Riverence's head be harmed," he says, "'tis not you but me and my generation'll be blamed for it. Plaze go back to Sleive-na-mon this night, for pace and quietness sake!" he begged.

While Darby spoke, the fairy-man was fixing one stool on top of another undher the window.

"I'll sit at this window," says the Master of the Good People, wagging his head threateningly, "and from there I'll give me ordhers. The throuble he's thrying to bring on others is the throuble I'll throuble him with. If he comes dacint, he'll go dacint; if he comes bothering, he'll go bothered," says he.

Faith, thin, your Honour, the King spoke no less than the truth, for at that very minute Terror, as foine a horse as ever followed hounds, was galloping down the starlit road to Darby's house, and over Terror's mane bent as foine a horseman as ever took a six-bar gate—Father Cassidy.

On and on through the moonlight they clattered, till they came in sight of Darby's gate, where, unseen and onwisible, a score of the Good People, with thorns in their fists, lay sniggering and laughing, waiting for the horse. Of course the fairies couldn't harm the good man himself, but Terror was complately at their marcy.

"We'll not stop to open the gate, Terror," says his Riverence, patting the baste's neck. "I'll give you a bit of a lift with the bridle-rein, and a touch like that on the flank, and do you clear it, my swallow-bird."

Well, sir, the priest riz in his stirrups, lifted the rein, and Terror crouched for the spring, whin, with a sudden snort of pain, the baste whirled round and started like the wind back up the road.

His Riverence pulled the horse to its haunches and swung him round once more facing the cottage. Up on his hind feet went Terror and stood crazy for a second, pawing the air, then with a cry of rage and pain in his throat, the baste turned, made a rush for the hedge at the roadside, and cleared it like an arrow.

Now, just beyant the hedge was a bog so thin that the geese wouldn't walk on it, and so thick that the ducks couldn't swim in it. Into the middle of that cowld pond Terror fell with a splash and a crash.

That minute the King climbed down from the window splitting with laughter. "Darby," he says, slapping his knees, "Father Cassidy is floundhering about in the bog outside. He's not hurt, but he's mighty cowld and uncomfortable. Do you go and make him promise not to read any prayers this night, then bring him in. Tell him that if he don't promise, by the piper that played before Moses, he may stay reading his prayers in the bog till morning, for he can't get out unless some of my people go in and help him!" says the King.

Darby's heart began hammerin' agin his ribs as though it were making heavy horseshoes.

"If that's so, I'm a ruined man! " he says. "I'd give tunty pounds rather than face him now!" says he.

The disthracted lad put his hat on to go out, an' thin he took it off to stay in. He let a groan out of him that shook all his bones.

"You may save him or lave him," says the King, turning to the window. "I'm going to lave the priest see in a minute what's bothering him. If he's not out of the bog be that time, I'd adwise you to lave the counthry. Maybe you'll only have a pair of cow's horns put on ye, but I think ye'll be kilt," he says. "My own mind's aisy. I wash my hands of him!

"That's the great comfort and adwantage of having your sowl's salwation fixed and sartin one way or the other," says the King, peering out. "Whin you do a thing, bad as it is or good as it may be, your mind is still aisy, bekase—" he turned from the window to look at Darby, but the lad was gone out into the moonlight, and was shrinkin' an' cringin' up toward the bog, as though he were going to meet and talk with the ghost of a man he'd murdhered. 'Twas a harsher an' angrier woice than that of any ghost that came out of a great flopping and splashin' in the

Father Cassidy sat with his feet dhrawn up on Terror, and the horse was half sunk in the mire. At times he urged Terror over to the bank, an' just as the baste was raising to step out, with a snort, it'd whirl back agin.

He'd thry another side, but spur as he might, and whip as he would, the horse'd turn shivering back to the middle of the bog.

"Is that you, Darby O'Gill, you vagebone?" cried his Riverence. "Help me out of this to the dhry land so as I can take the life of you!" he cried.

"What right has anyone to go trespassin' in my bog, mussing it all up an' spiling it?" says Darby, purtendin' not to raycognise the priest; "I keep it private for my ducks and geese, and I'll have the law on you, so I will—Oh, be the powers of pewther, 'tis me own dear Father Cassidy!" he cried.

Father Cassidy, as an answer, raiched for a handful of mud, which he aimed and flung so fair an' thrue that three days afther Darby was still pulling bits of it from his hair.

"I have a whip I'll keep private for your own two foine legs!" cried his Riverence; "I'll taich you to tell lies to the counthry-side about your being with the fairies, and for deludherin' your own poor wife. I came down this night to eggspose you. But now that's the laste I'll do to you!"

"Faith," says Darby, "if I was with the fairies, 'tis no less than you are this minute, an' if you eggspose me, I'll eggspose you!" With that Darby up and tould what was the cause of the whole botheration.

His Riverence, afther the telling, waited not a minute, but kicked the spurs into Terror, and the brave horse headed once more for shore. 'Twas no use. The poor baste turned at last with a cry and floundhered back agin into the mire.

"You'll not be able to get out, Father acushla," says Darby, "till you promise fair an' firm not to read any prayers over the Good People this night, and never to hurt or molest meself on any account. About this last promise the King is very particular entirely."

"You dundherheaded Booligadhaun!" says Father Cassidy, turning all the blame on Darby; "you mayandherin' Mayrauder of the Sivin Says!" he says. "You big-headed scorpion of the worruld, with bow-legs!" cried he,—an' things like that.

"Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my!" says Darby, purtendin' to be shocked, "to think that me own pasture should use sich terrible langwidge! That me own dear Father Cassidy could spake blaggard words like thim! Every dhrop of blood in me is biling with scandalation. Let me beg of you and implore your Riverence never agin to make use of talk like that. It breaks my heart to hear you!" says the villian.

For a few minutes afther that Darby was doin' nothing but dodging handfuls of mud.

While this was going on, a soft red glow, like that which hangs above the lonely raths an' forts at night when the fairies are dancin' in thim, came over the fields. So whin Father Cassidy riz in his stirrups the soft glow was resting on the bog, and there he saw two score of little men in green jackets and brown caps waiting about the pond's edge, and everyone houlding a switch in his hands.

The little lads knew well 'twas too dark for the clergyman to read from his book any banishing prayers, and barring having too much fun, the divil a thing they had to fear!

'Twas fresh anger that came to Father Cassidy afther the first rush of surprise and wondher. He thried now to get at the Good People, to lay his hands on thim. A dozen charges at the bank his Riverence made, and as many times a score of the Little People flew up to meet him and sthruck the poor baste over the soft nose with their wands till the horse was welted back.

Long afther the struggle was proved hopeless it wint on till at last the poor baste, thrembling and disheartened, rayfused to mind the spur.

At that Father Cassidy gave up. "I surrender," he said, "an' I promise for the sake of my horse," said he.

The baste himself undherstood the worruds, for with that he waded ca'm an' quiet to the dhry land and stood shaking himself there among the pack of fairies.

Mighty few words were passed betwixt Darby and Terror's rider as the whole party went up to Darby's stable, the little people follying behind quiet and ordherly.

It was not long till Terror was nibbling comfortably in a stall, Father Cassidy was dhrying himself before the kitchen fire, the King and Darby were sitting by the side of the hearth, and two score of the green-cloaked Little People were scatthered about the kitchen waiting for the great debate which was sure to come betwixt his Riverence and the head man of the Good People, now that the two had met.

So full was the room that some of the Good People sat on the shelves of the dhresser, others lay on the table, their chins in their fists, whilst little Phelim Beg was perching himself on a picture above the hearth. He'd no sooner touched the picture-frame than he let a howl out of him and jumped to the floor. "I'm burned to the bone!" says he.

"No wondher," says the King, looking up; "'twas a picture of St. Patrick you were sitting on."

Phadrig Oge, swinging his heels, balanced himself on the edge of a churn filled with buttermilk, but everyone of them kept wondhering eyes fastened on the priest.

And to tell the truth, Father Cassidy at first was more scornful and unpolite than he need be.

"I suppose," says his Riverence, "you do be worrying a good deal about the place you're going to afther the Day of Judgment?" he says, kind of mocking.

"Arrah, now," says the King, taking the pipe from his mouth and staring hard at the clargyman, "there's more than me ought to be studying that question. There's a parish priest I knew, and he's not far from here, who ate mate on a fast day, three years ago come next Michaelmas, who should be a good lot intherested in that same place," says the King.

The laughing and tittering that follyed this hit lasted a minute.

Father Cassidy turned scarlet. "When I ate it I forgot the day!" he cried.

"That's what you tould," says the King, smiling sweet, "but that saying don't help your chanst much. Maybe you failed to say your prayers a year ago last Ayster Monday night for the same rayson?" axed the King, very cool.

At this the laughing broke out agin, uproarious, some of the little men houlding their sides and tears rowling down their cheeks; two lads begun dancing together before the chiny dishes upon the dhresser. But at the height of the merriment there was a cry and a splash, for Phadrig Oge had fallen into the churn.

Before anyone could help him Phadrig had climbed bravely up the churn-dash, hand over hand like a sailor man, and clambered out all white and dripping. "Don't mind me," he says; "go on wid the discoorse!" he cried, shaking himself. The Ruler of the Good People looked vexed.

"I marvel at yez, an' I am ashamed of yez!" he says. "If I'm not able alone for this dayludhered man, yer shoutin' and your gallivantin'll do me no good. Besides, fair play's a jewel, even two agin one ain't fair," says the King. "If I hear another word from one of yez, back to Sleive-na-mon he'll go, an' lay there on the broad of his back, with his heels in the air, for a year and tin days!

"You were about to obsarve, Father Cassidy," says his Majesty, bowing low—"your most obaydient sir!"

"I was about to say," cried his Riverence, "that you're a friend of Sattin!"

"I'll not deny that," says the King; "what have you to say agin him?"

"He's a rogue and a rapscallion and the inemy of mankind!" tundered Father Cassidy.

"Prove he's a rogue!" cries the King, slapping one hand on the other; "and why shouldn't he be the inemy of mankind? What has mankind iver done for him except to lay the blame of every mane, cowardly thrick of its own on his chowlders. Wasn't it on their account he was put inside of the swine and dhrove into the say? Wasn't it bekase of them he spint sivin days and sivin nights in the belly of a whale, wasn't it——"

"Stop there, now!" says Father Cassidy, pinting his finger; "hould where you are—that was Jonah."

"You're working meracles to make me forget!" shouted the King.

"I'm not!" cried the priest, "and what's more, if you'll agree not to use charms of the black art to help yourself, I'll promise not to work meracles agin you."

"Done! I'll agree," says the King, "and with that bargain I'll go on first, and I'll prove that mankind is the inemy of Sattin."

"Who begun the inmity?" intherrupted his Riverence; "who started in be tempting our first parents?"

"Not wishing to make little of a man's relaytions in his own house or to his own face, but your first parents were a poor lot," said the King. "Didn't your first parent turn quane's evidence agin his own wife? Answer me that!"

"Undher the sarcumstances, would ye have him tell a lie whin he was asked?" says the priest right back.

Well, the argyment got hotter and hotter until Darby's mind was in splinthers. Sometimes he sided with Ould Nick, sometimes he was agin him. Half of what they said he didn't undherstand. They talked Tayology, Conchology, and Distrology, they hammered aich other with Jayography, Orthography, and Misnography, they welted aich other with Hylosophy, Philosophy, and Thrimosophy. They bounced up and down in their sates, they shouted and got purple in the face. But every argyment brought out another nearly as good and twict as loud.

Through all this time the follyers of the King sat upon their perches or lay upon the table motionless, like little wooden images with painted green cloaks and brown caps.

Darby, looking from one to the other of them for help to undherstand the thraymendous argyment that was goin' on, felt his brain growin' numb. At last it balked like Shamus Free's donkey, and urge as he would, the divil a foot his mind'd stir afther the two hayros. It turned at last and galloped back to Mrs. Morrisey's wake.

Now, thin, the thought that came into Darby's head as he sat there ferninst Father Cassidy an' the King was this:

"The two wisest persons in Ireland are this minute shouting and disputing before me own turf fire. If I ax them those questions, I'll be wiser than Maurteen Cavanaugh, the schoolmaster, an' twict as wise as any other man in this parish. I'll do it," he says to himself.

He raised the tongs and struck them so loud and quick against the hearth that the two daybaters stopped short in their talk to look at him.

"Tell me," he says—"lave off and tell me who was the greatest man that ever lived?" says he.

At that a surprising thing happened. Brian Connors and Father Cassidy, aich striving to speak first, answered in the same breath and gave the same name.

"Dan'le O'Connell," says they.

There was at that the instant's silence an' stillness which follys a great explosion of gunpowdher.

Thin every subject of the King started to his feet.

"Three cheers for Dan'le O'Connell!" cried little Roderick Dhue. Every brown cap was swung in the air. "Hooray! Hooray! Hooroo!" rang the cheers.

His Riverence and the fairy-chief turned sharp about and stared at each other, delighted and wondhering.

Darby sthruck agin with the tongs. "Who was the greatest poet?" says he.

Agin the two spoke together. "Tom Moore," says they. The King rubbed his hands and gave a glad side look at the priest. Darby marked the friendly light that was stealing into Father Cassidy's brown eyes. There was great excitement among the Good People up on the cupboard shelves.

On the table little Nial, the wise, was thrying to start three cheers for Father Cassidy, when Darby said agin: "Who was the greatest warrior?" he says.

The kitchen grew still as death, aich of the two hayros waiting for the other.

The King spoke first. "Brian Boru," says he.

"No," says Father Cassidy, half laughing; "Owen Roe O'Nale."

Phadrig Oge jumped from the churn. "Owen Roe forever! I always said it!" cries he. "Look at this man, boys," he says, pinting up to the priest. "There's the making of the foinest bishop in Ireland!"

"The divil a much differ betwixt Owen Roe an' Brian Boru! 'Tis one of them two, an' I don't care which!" says the King.

The priest and the King sank back in their chairs, eyeing aich other with admayration.

Darby powered something out of a jug into three brown stone noggins, and then turned hot wather from the kittle, on top of that agin.

Says the King to the clargyman, "You're the cleverest and the knowingest man I've met in five thousand years. That joult you gave me about Jonah was a terror!"

"I never saw your ayquil! If we could only send you to Parliament, you'd free Ireland!" says Father Cassidy. "To think," says he, "that once I used to believe there was no such thing as fairies!"

"That was bekase you were shuperstitious," says the King. "Everyone is so, more or less. I am meself—a little," says he.

Darby was stirrin' spoons in the three steaming noggins and Father Cassidy was looking throubled.

What would his flock say to see him dhrinking punch with a little ould pagin, who was the friend of Ould Nick?

"Your health!" says the King, houlding up the cup.

His Riverence took a bowl of the punch, for daycency's sake, and stood quiet a minute. At last he says, "Happiness to you and forgiveness to you, and my heart's pity folly you!" says he, raising the noggin to his lips.

He dhrained the cup thoughtful and solemn, for he didn't know rightly whether 'twas a vaynial sin or a mortial sin he'd committed by the bad example he was giving Darby.

"I wisht I could do something for yez," he says, putting on his cloak, "but I have only pity and kind wishes to give you!"

He turned agin when his hand was on the door-knob, and was going to say something else, but changed his mind, and wint out to where Darby was houlding the horse.

Manewhile, the Little People were consultin' eager in a knot beside the fireplace, until the King broke away an' follyed Father Cassidy out.

"Wait a minute!" the fairy says. "There's somethin' important your Riverence should know about," he says. "There's two speckled hins that sthrayed away from your own door over to the black pond, an' they've been there this twelvemonth. I'm loathe to say it, but in yer own mind your honour a-ccused Bothered Bill Donahue, the tinker, with takin' thim. Well, they've raised two great clutches of chickens an' they're all yours. We thought we'd tell ye," he says.

"An' last Chewsday night Nancy Burke bate her husband Dicky for being 'toxicated. I think she bate him too scan'lous," says little Nial, the fiddler, comin' out. "An' Dicky is too proud to complain of her to your honour. He says 'twould be makin' a kind of informer out of himself. But maybe she'll bate him agin, so I thought to mintion it," he says. With that Phadrig Oge broke in from where he stood on the thrashol':

"Tom Healy's family, up the mountainy way, is all down with the faver; they have no one to send worrud!" cried Phadrig; "your honour ought to know about it," he says.

Be this time the Good People were all outside, crowded about the horse, an' aich one excited, shouting up some friendly informaytion.

Father Cassidy, from Terror's back, sat smilin' down kind, first on this one, then on that, an' then on the other.

"Wisha!" says he, "ain't ye the kindly crachures! I've heard more news of me own parish in the last foive minutes than I'd have learned in a twelvemonth. But there's one thing I'd liked mighty well to know. Maybe yez could tell me," says he, "who committed the mystarious crime in this parish a year ago last Christmas? Who stole the six shillin's from ould Mrs. Frawley? She counted them at Mrs. McGee's, an' she felt them in her pocket at Mrs. Donovan's; the crowd jostled her at the chapel door, an' afther that they were gone," he says.

Well, the fairies were splittin' with laughter as he spoke.

"No one stole thim at all," says Shaun Rhue, the tears of merriment rollin' down his face. "The disraymemberin' woman only aymagins she counted thim at Mrs. McGee's an' felt thim at Mrs. Donovan's. She was only thinkin' about the money at thim places, an' that's how she got the ideeh. She hid the shillin's in the blue taypot with the broken spout, that stands in the left-han' corner of the mayhogany dhresser, an' thin forgot it entirely," he says.

"Well, look at that, now," says the priest, "an' all the turmile there's been about that same six shillin's, an' she afther hidin' them in the taypot herself. Now isn't there something I can do in rayturn for all your kindness?" he says.

"There's one thing," says King Brian Connors, lookin' a good dale confuged. "If your Riverence could just as well—if it'd be no positive inconvaynience—we'd like mightilly for ye not to be singin' pious hymns as you go riding along the highway afther dark. If you'd sing ballads, now, or Tom Moore's melodies. You mane no harrum, of course, as it is, but last week you broke up a dance we were having at Murray's rath, an' Saturday night you put a scatther on a crowd of us as we were coming by McGrath's meadow," he says, anxious.

'Twas a quare bargain for a clargyman to make, an' faix it wint agin his conscience, but he hadn't the heart to rayfuse. So he bint down an' shook the King's hand. "I promise," he says.

A wild, shrill cheer broke from the throng of Little People.

"Now I'll go home an' lave yez in peace," says Father Cassidy, grippin' his bridle-rein. "I came yer inemy, but I'm convarted. I'll go back yer friend," he says.

"Ye won't go home alone, we'll escorch ye!" shouted Phadrig Oge.

Wullum Fagin, the poacher, was sneakin' home that night about one o'clock, with a bag full of rabbits undher his arrum, whin hearing behind him the bate of horse's hoofs and the sound of maylodious music, he jumped into the ditch and lay close within the shadow.

Who should come canthering up the starlit road but Father Cassidy, on his big black hunter, Terror.

Wullum looked for the musicianers who were singing and playing the enthrancing music, but sorra one could he see, and what was more, the sounds came from the air high above Father Cassidy's head.

"'Tis the angels guarding the good man," says Wullum.

Sure 'twas only the Good People escorching his Riverence from Darby O'Gill's house, and to cheer him on his way, singing the while, "Believe me, if all those endearing young charms."