|The Bridge of the Kist|
Chapter X Page 89
THE CHILD AND THE FIDDLE
THERE was a woman one time, and she had the fretfullest child in all Ireland. He lay in the cradle and lamented from morning to night and from dark to the dawn of day. There was no prosperity nor comfort in that house from he came to it. All things went astray within in the kitchen and without upon the farm : the cattle fell sick, the potatoes took a blight, there was not a taste of butter on the churn, and evenly the cat began for to dwine and dwine away. But of all the misfortunes that come the woefullest was the continual strife between the man and woman of the house, and they a couple that were horrid fond aforetime.
It happened when the child was about eighteen months of age that a strange man was hired to work on the farm. Surely he'd never have ventured into the place if he had heard tell of the ill luck was in it, but he was from distant parts and didn't know a heth.
One day he chanced to be in from the work a while before the master of the house, and herself was gone to the spring for water. The hired man sat down by the kitchen fire, taking no heed of the child was watching him from the cradle. The little fellow quit his lamenting ; he sat up straight, with a countenance on him like a wise old man.
"I will be playing you a tune on the fiddle, for I'm thinking 'tis fond of the music you are," says he.
The man near fell into the fire with wonderment to hear the old-fashioned talk. He didn't say one word in answer, but he waited to see what would be coming next.
The small weak infant pulled a fiddle out from under the pillow of the cradle, and he began for to play the loveliest music was ever heard in this world. He had reels and jigs, songs and sets ; merry tunes would rise the heart of man and mournful tunes would fill the mind with grief.
The man sat listening, and he was all put through other, thinking the child was no right thing.
After a time the little lad quit playing, he put back the fiddle where he took it from and began at his old whimpering again. Herself came in at the door with a bucket of water in her hand. Well the man walked out and he called her after him.
"That is a strange child you have, mistress," says he.
"A strange child, surely, and a sorrowful," she makes answer. " It is tormented with his roaring you are, no person could be enduring it continually."
"Did ever he play on the fiddle in your hearing? " asks the man.
"Is it raving you are ? " says she.
"I am not, mistress," he answers. " He is after giving me the best of entertainment with reels and marches and jigs."
"Let you quit funning me 1 " says she, getting vexed.
"I see you are doubting my words," he replies. Do you stand here without where he'll not be looking on you at all. I'll go into the kitchen, and maybe he'll bring out the fiddle again."
With that he went in, leaving herself posted convenient to the window.
Says he to the child, " I'm thinking there's not above a score of fiddlers in all Ireland having better knowledge of music nor yourself. Sure that is a great wonder and you but an innocent little thing."
"Maybe it's not that innocent I am," says the child. "And let me tell you there isn't one fiddler itself to be my equal in the land."
"You're boasting, you bold wee coley," says the man.
The child sat up in a great rage, pulled the fiddle from under the pillow and began for to play a tune was grander nor the lot he gave first.
The man went out to herself.
Are you satisfied now ? " he asks.
My heart beats time to his reels," says she. " Run down to the field and send the master to this place that he may hear him too."
The man of the house came up in a terrible temper.
If it's lies you are telling me, I'll brain the pair of you with the loy," says he, when he heard the news of the fiddle.
"Put your ear to the window it's soft he is playing now," says his wife.
But the words weren't out of her mouth before a blast of loud music was heard. Himself ran in on the door, and he seen the gosoon sitting up playing tunes.
"Let you be off out of this," says he, " or I'll throw you at the back of the fire, for you are no right thing at all."
With that the little fellow made a powerful great lep out of the cradle, across the floor and away with him out over the fields.
But he left his fiddle behind, and the master of the house threw it down on the burning turf. And that was no true fiddle at all, only a piece of an old bog stick was rotten with age.