|The Child and the Fiddle|
Chapter XI Page 97
THE CUTTING OF THE TREE
THERE was a wild sort of a lad the name of Francis Pat, and he was a great warrant to be entertaining the people with his airy talk. He was the whole go in every spree and join was held in the countryside ; and the neighbours all had a fine welcome when he'd come to make his cailee.
He joined the world when he was about thirty years of age, and he got a fine sensible woman with a nice little handful of money. Herself didn't care to be rambling at all, and she'd sit with her stitching or knitting when he went out after dark.
It chanced one time, not a long from they were married, that Francis Pat went to a raffle was held in the next townland. When the company set out for to go away home, in the black darkness of the night, every person in it was afraid to pass down by the fort.
"What is on you at all? " says Francis Pat. " I think scorn on the lot of you are in dread of the Good People."
"God be with them-and their faces from us, their backs to us, the way they're good friends," says an old man. "I have great experience to know that it's a danger to evenly make fun in speech of the like."
"Away with you by the long hard road," says Francis Pat. "'Tis I will walk my lone past the fort, and I dare the fairies to molest me." The neighbours strove to break his intention, but he was persistent and proud.
When he came to the fort he seen a light, he heard voices speaking and the blows of an axe against wood.
" There is one more daring nor myself abroad this hour," thinks Francis Pat. " I never heard tell of any person having audacity to interfere with the trees of the circle."
Curiosity came on him to know who could it be, and he juked over- to the light. He seen no sign of the men, however he peeped, but he heard the words and the blows.
"Where'll we carry the wood? " says a voice.
"To the house on the hill," says another.
"We be to bring out the wife of Francis Pat, and the tree may stop there in her stead."
"He'll never know the differ," says the first. "It's a fine thing surely to make an image from a tree that a man couldn't know from herself." With that there was great laughter and cheering, but the lad didn't wait to hear more-he sped away home to the house on the hill.
Not a heth did he let on to the wife about what he was after discovering, but he had a strong oath taken in his own mind that the fairies should not lift her from him.
He bolted the door of the kitchen, and the two went into the room. After awhile there came a cry on the street without, and it dwined away into the byre. The cows began for to stamp and strive to get free of the bails.
Let you go out and see what ails the creatures," says herself.
"There is nothing on them," says he. "I'll not leave this place till the sun rises for day."
Then there came a powerful blast of wind, and the pigs set up the awfullest lamentation.
"I'm not that lazy but I'll find out what it is," says herself.
"You'll stop where you are," says he. "Didn't you hear the blast going by, and every person knows that pigs see the wind? "
"Whatever they're beholding this minute is a sore distress to the creatures," she answers.
" Aye ! " he allows. "The wind is red, and that is the cause of them crying." There came a crash on the door of the kitchen and it blew in ; the plates were dashed off the dresser, and the saucepans fell from the nails on the wall.
Francis Pat had to hold herself by the arm to keep her from running to gather the delf. Voices came shouting, and there was a stamping of feet through the house. The woman began for to cry and to roar, but himself kept a hold on her and nothing enticed him away.
At dawn the commotion died out.
"What was it at all ? " asks herself.
"Sure what would it be only a wind was fit to batter the horns off the cows ! " says Francis Pat.
When they went into the kitchen what did they find only the image lying on the floor. The wood was cut into the living likeness of the woman of the house, and the Good People had thrown it there in the anger of the disappointment was on them.
So my brave Francis Pat told his wife the whole story of the cutting of the tree.