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The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys online
XV THE LIANHAN SHEE
On entering the house the same form was repeated; and when it was over, the best chair was placed for him by Mary's own hands, and the fire stirred up, and a line of respect drawn, within which none was to intrude, lest he might feel in any degree incommoded.
"My good neighbour," said he to Mrs Sullivan, "what strange woman is this, who has thrown the parish into such a ferment? I'm told she paid you a visit? Pray sit down."
"I humbly thank your Reverence," said Mary, curtseying lowly, "but I'd rather not sit, sir, if you, plase. I hope I know what respect manes, your Reverence. Barny Bradagh, I'll thank you to stand up, if you plase, an' his Reverence to the fore, Barny."
"I ax your Reverence's pardon, an' yours, too, Mrs Sullivan; sure we didn't mane the disrespect, anyhow, sir, plase your Reverence."
"About this woman, and the _Lianhan Shee_," said the priest, without noticing Barny's apology. "Pray what do you precisely understand by a _Lianhan Shee_?"
"Why, sir," replied Mary, "some sthrange bein' from the good people, or fairies, that sticks to some persons. There's a bargain, sir, your Reverence, made atween thim; an' the divil, sir, that is, the ould boy--the saints about us!--has a hand in it. The _Lianhan Shee_, your Reverence, is never seen only by thim it keeps wid; but--hem!--it always, wid the help of the ould boy, conthrives, sir, to make the person brake the agreement, an' thin it has _thim_ in _its_ power; but if they _don't_ brake the agreement, thin _it's_ in _their_ power. If they can get anybody to put in their place, they may get out o' the bargain; for they can, of a sartainty, give oceans o' money to people, but can't take any themselves, plase your Reverence. But sure, where's the use o' me to be tellin' your Reverence what you know betther nor myself?--an' why shouldn't you, or any one that has the power you have?"
He smiled again at this in his own peculiar manner, and was proceeding to inquire more particularly into the nature of the interview between them, when the noise of feet, and sounds of general alarm, accompanied by a rush of people into the house, arrested his attention, and he hastily inquired into the cause of the commotion. Before he could receive a reply, however, the house was almost crowded; and it was not without considerable difficulty that, by the exertions of Mrs Sullivan and Bartley, sufficient order and quiet were obtained to hear distinctly what was said.
"Plase your Reverence," said several voices at once, "they're comin', hot-foot, into the very house to us! Was ever the likes seen! an' they must know right well, sir, that you're widin it."
"Who are coming?" he inquired.
"Why, the woman, sir, an' her _good pet_, the _Lianhan Shee_, your Reverence!"
"Well," said he, "but why should you all appear so blanched with terror? Let her come in, and we shall see how far she is capable of injuring her fellow-creatures: some maniac," he muttered, in a low soliloquy, "whom the villainy of the world has driven into derangement--some victim to a hand like m----. Well, they say there _is_ a Providence, yet such things are permitted!"
"He's sayin' a prayer now," observed one of them; "haven't we a good right to be thankful that he's in the place wid us while she's in it, or dear knows what harm she might do us--maybe _rise_ the wind!"
As the latter speaker concluded, there was a dead silence. The persons about the door crushed each other backwards, their feet set out before them, and their shoulders laid with violent pressure against those who stood behind, for each felt anxious to avoid all danger of contact with a being against whose power even a blessed priest found it necessary to guard himself by a prayer.