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The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys online
V TEIG O'KANE AND THE CORPSE
Poor Teig could not bring out a word at all, nor open his lips, if he were to get the world for it, and so he gave no answer.
"Teig O'Kane," said the little grey man again, "isn't it timely you met us?"
Teig could not answer him.
"Teig O'Kane," says he, "the third time, isn't it lucky and timely that we met you?"
But Teig remained silent, for he was afraid to return an answer, and his tongue was as if it was tied to the roof of his mouth.
The little grey man turned to his companions, and there was joy in his bright little eye. "And now," says he, "Teig O'Kane hasn't a word, we can do with him what we please. Teig, Teig," says he, "you're living a bad life, and we can make a slave of you now, and you cannot withstand us, for there's no use in trying to go against us. Lift that corpse."
Teig was so frightened that he was only able to utter the two words, "I won't"; for as frightened as he was he was obstinate and stiff, the same as ever.
"Teig O'Kane won't lift the corpse," said the little _maneen_, with a wicked little laugh, for all the world like the breaking of a _lock_ of dry _kippeens_, and with a little harsh voice like the striking of a cracked bell. "Teig O'Kane won't lift the corpse--make him lift it"; and before the word was out of his mouth they had all gathered round poor Teig, and they all talking and laughing through other.
Teig tried to run from them, but they followed him, and a man of them stretched out his foot before him as he ran, so that Teig was thrown in a heap on the road. Then before he could rise up the fairies caught him, some by the hands and some by the feet, and they held him tight, in a way that he could not stir, with his face against the ground. Six or seven of them raised the body then, and pulled it over to him, and left it down on his back. The breast of the corpse was squeezed against Teig's back and shoulders, and the arms of the corpse were thrown around Teig's neck. Then they stood back from him a couple of yards, and let him get up. He rose, foaming at the mouth and cursing, and he shook himself, thinking to throw the corpse off his back. But his fear and his wonder were great when he found that the two arms had a tight hold round his own neck, and that the two legs were squeezing his hips firmly, and that, however strongly he tried, he could not throw it off, any more than a horse can throw off its saddle. He was terribly frightened then, and he thought he was lost. "Ochone! for ever," said he to himself, "it's the bad life I'm leading that has given the good people this power over me. I promise to God and Mary, Peter and Paul, Patrick and Bridget, that I'll mend my ways for as long as I have to live, if I come clear out of this danger--and I'll marry the girl."
The little grey man came up to him again, and said he to him, "Now, Teig_een_," says he, "you didn't lift the body when I told you to lift it, and see how you were made to lift it; perhaps when I tell you to bury it, you won't bury it until you're made to bury it!"
"Anything at all that I can do for your honour," said Teig, "I'll do it," for he was getting sense already, and if it had not been for the great fear that was on him, he never would have let that civil word slip out of his mouth.