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The Voice at the Door

Chapter XV   Page 127


THERE was a woman, a short while since, and she lived on a snug little farm convenient to the lough. She went to the byre for to milk, of a May morning, and no person stopped in the house only a young child in the cradle.
Not a long was herself without, maybe the half of an hour, and when she came in there was no appearance of any disorder or strife in the kitchen. But the poor wee child lay cold and dead in the cradle. The mother began for to roar and lament, and her heart was feeble with dread.
There came a knock on the door, and a neighbouring man lifted the latch and walked in. He never let on to observe the woeful countenance of herself, but he says, in a hearty voice
" Will you tell me how is the child?"
"He is after dying on us," she answers.
"And he right well this hour past."
The man went over to the cradle, and he lepped three foot off the floor when he seen the wee corpse lying there.
"It's the strangest thing at all," she laments. "And what'll I be saying to himself when he lands in from his work."
"Let you be telling him," says the man, "that the little fellow is in my house this day."
'Tis queer advice you are speaking to be bidding me utter the like of yon lie, fore­nenst the innocent corpse," says herself.
"Not a lie in the world, mam," he answers. "Sure I am just after leaving your child by my own kitchen fire, and he wrapped up in a shawl."
With that she took a hold of the pot stick for to run him from the place, she was odious vexed to think he'd make mock of her sore lamentations.
"Ar'n't you the ungrateful besom," says he, " to go destroying a decent neighbour with a pot stick, and he after saving your son from the power of the Good People ? "
"Let you tell a straight story, or quit off from here," she answers. " For I am heart scalded listening to your old nonsense and lies."
"'Tis striving I was not to give you your death of a scare," says he. "But the strangest thing is after coming to pass in this house. Let you sit down and have good courage, the way I'll be telling you a rejoiceful news."
With that herself brought him over a chair, dusting it clean on her apron, then she pulled up the creepy and sat down to attend to his words.
"Did you hear any noise of disturbance," says he, "wherever you were? "
"I did not," she answers. " And not a far was I from this place at all. I went to the byre for to milk ; and no noise was in it only the cow breathing and the splash of the milk in the can."
"That's more nor horrid strange," says he. "For I was passing down by the lough and I heard a powerful commotion up here. There was laughter and cheering, the tramp of men's boots on the street, and horses galloping by. Thinks I to myself, ' The fairies are out contriving some old villainy this morning of May.' What did I do only walk up among them, and I seen no person at all. When I came to the house the poor wee child was a handing out on the window, but I could not behold the fairies were at the lifting.
"Well I'd have you to know I'm a brave and venturesome man, with a heart as strong as an eagle ! What did I do only make my way in among the whole throng of Good People, and I standing on their feet, and pushing them off to the wall to make space for myself. I took a hold of the child for to pull him from the invisible hands were lifting him out, and, as sure as I'm sitting here, I brought him safe from the lot."
"There went a whole roar of annoyance from the fairies, and they mounted up on their horses and away. But I brought the little fellow to my own house for fear they'd return for him to this place."
The poor mother was wild with delight to hear tell the son was alive.
" Let's be going to fetch him," says she.
And he'll never be left in the house by his lone from this out."
The two went down to the neighbour's house, and sure enough the child was in it asleep by the fire.
The man had to carry him home, for herself was exhausted with fright.
"Maybe the Good People are gone up to remove what they left in the cradle," says she.
But when they went into the kitchen wasn't the old corpse in it yet.
" We be to bury yon article," says herself. But the man allowed there was no need to be treating the like the same as a right thing.
"Throw it in on the back of the fire," says he.
Herself was in dread to lay her hand on the likeness of the child. So the man lifted it out of the cradle and threw it down on the fire. And it blazed away up the chimney for a second's time and departed in a puff of smoke.


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