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The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys online

The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys


Such was Mary Sullivan, as she sat at her own hearth, quite alone, engaged as we have represented her. What she may have been meditating on, we cannot pretend to ascertain; but after some time, she looked sharply into the "backstone," or hob, with an air of anxiety and alarm. By and by she suspended her knitting, and listened with much earnestness, leaning her right ear over to the hob, from whence the sounds to which she paid such deep attention proceeded. At length she crossed herself devoutly, and exclaimed, "Queen of saints about us!--is it back ye are? Well sure there's no use in talkin' bekase they say you know what's said of you, or to you--an' we may as well spake yez fair. Hem--musha yez are welcome back, crickets, avour-neenee! I hope that, not like the last visit ye ped us, yez are comin' for luck now! Moolyeen died, any way, soon afther your other _kailyee_, ye crathurs ye. Here's the bread, an' the salt, an' the male for yez, an' we wish ye well. Eh?--saints above, if it isn't listenin' they are jist like a Christhien! Wurrah, but ye are the wise an' the quare crathurs all out!"

She then shook a little holy water over the hob, and muttered to herself an Irish charm or prayer against the evils which crickets are often supposed by the peasantry to bring with them, and requested, still in the words of the charm, that their presence might, on that occasion, rather be a presage of good fortune to man and beast belonging to her.

"There now, ye _dhonans_ ye, sure ye can't say that ye're ill-thrated here, anyhow, or ever was mocked or made game of in the same family. You have got your hansel, an' full an' plenty of it; hopin' at the same time that you'll have no rason in life to cut our best clothes from revinge. Sure an' I didn't desarve to have my brave stuff _long body_ riddled the way it was the last time ye wor here, an' only bekase little Barny, that has but the sinse of a _gorsoon_, tould yez in a joke to pack off wid yourselves somewhere else. Musha, never heed what the likes of him says; sure he's but a _caudy_, that doesn't mane ill, only the bit o' divarsion wid yez."

She then resumed her knitting, occasionally stopping, as she changed her needles, to listen, with her ear set, as if she wished to augur from the nature of their chirping, whether they came for good or evil. This, however, seemed to be beyond her faculty of translating their language; for after sagely shaking her head two or three times, she knit more busily than before.

At this moment, the shadow of a person passing the house darkened the window opposite which she sat, and immediately a tall female, of a wild dress and aspect, entered the kitchen.

"_Gho manhy dhea ghud, a ban chohr_! the blessin' o' goodness upon you, dacent woman," said Mrs Sullivan, addressing her in those kindly phrases so peculiar to the Irish language.

Instead of making her any reply, however, the woman, whose eye glistened with a wild depth of meaning, exclaimed in low tones, apparently of much anguish, "_Husht, husht, dherum_! husht, husht, I say--let me alone--I will do it--will you husht? I will, I say--I will--there now--that's it--be quiet, an' I will do it--be quiet!" and as she thus spoke she turned her face back over her left shoulder, as if some invisible being dogged her steps, and stood bending over her.

"_Gho manhy dhea ghud, a ban chohr, dherhum areesht_! the blessin' o' God on you, honest woman, I say again," said Mrs Sullivan, repeating that _sacred_ form of salutation with which the peasantry address each other. "'Tis a fine evenin', honest woman, glory be to Him that sent the same, and amin! If it was cowld, I'd be axin' you to draw your chair in to the fire; but, any way, won't you sit down?"