[Village roadside, on left the door of a forge, with broken
wheels, etc., lying about. A well near centre, with board above
it, and room to pass behind it. Martin Doul is sitting near
forge, cutting sticks.]
-- [heard hammering inside forge, then calls.] -- Let you
make haste out there. . . . I'll be putting up new fires at the
turn of day, and you haven't the half of them cut yet.
-- [gloomily.] -- It's destroyed I'll be whacking
your old thorns till the turn of day, and I with no food in my
stomach would keep the life in a pig. (He turns towards the
door.) Let you come out here and cut them yourself if you want
them cut, for there's an hour every day when a man has a right to
-- [coming out, with a hammer, impatiently.] -- Do you want
me to be driving you off again to be walking the roads? There
you are now, and I giving you your food, and a corner to sleep,
and money with it; and, to hear the talk of you, you'd think I
was after beating you, or stealing your gold.
You'd do it handy, maybe, if I'd gold to steal.
-- [throws down hammer; picks up some of the sticks already
cut, and throws them into door.] There's no fear of your having
gold -- a lazy, basking fool the like of you.
No fear, maybe, and I here with yourself, for it's
more I got a while since and I sitting blinded in Grianan, than I
get in this place working hard, and destroying myself, the length
of the day.
-- [stopping with amazement.] -- Working hard? (He goes
over to him.) I'll teach you to work hard, Martin Doul. Strip
off your coat now, and put a tuck in your sleeves, and cut the
lot of them, while I'd rake the ashes from the forge, or I'll not
put up with you another hour itself.
-- [horrified.] -- Would you have me getting my death
sitting out in the black wintry air with no coat on me at all?
-- [with authority.] -- Strip it off now, or walk down upon
-- [bitterly.] -- Oh, God help me! (He begins taking
off his coat.) I've heard tell you stripped the sheet from your
wife and you putting her down into the grave, and that there
isn't the like of you for plucking your living ducks, the short
days, and leaving them running round in their skins, in the great
rains and the cold. (He tucks up his sleeves.) Ah, I've heard a
power of queer things of yourself, and there isn't one of them
I'll not believe from this day, and be telling to the boys.
-- [pulling over a big stick.] -- Let you cut that now, and
give me rest from your talk, for I'm not heeding you at all.
-- [taking stick.] -- That's a hard, terrible stick,
Timmy; and isn't it a poor thing to be cutting strong timber the
like of that, when it's cold the bark is, and slippy with the
frost of the air?
-- [gathering up another armful of sticks.] -- What way
wouldn't it be cold, and it freezing since the moon was changed?
[He goes into forge.]
-- [querulously, as he cuts slowly.] -- What way,
indeed, Timmy? For it's a raw, beastly day we do have each day,
till I do be thinking it's well for the blind don't be seeing
them gray clouds driving on the hill, and don't be looking on
people with their noses red, the like of your nose, and their
eyes weeping and watering, the like of your eyes, God help you,
Timmy the smith.
-- [seen blinking in doorway.] -- Is it turning now you are
against your sight?
-- [very miserably.] -- It's a hard thing for a man
to have his sight, and he living near to the like of you (he cuts
a stick and throws it away), or wed with a wife (cuts a stick);
and I do be thinking it should be a hard thing for the Almighty
God to be looking on the world, bad days, and on men the like of
yourself walking around on it, and they slipping each way in the
-- [with pot-hooks which he taps on anvil.] -- You'd have a
right to be minding, Martin Doul, for it's a power the Saint
cured lose their sight after a while. Mary Doul's dimming again,
I've heard them say; and I'm thinking the Lord, if he hears you
making that talk, will have little pity left for you at all.
There's not a bit of fear of me losing my sight,
and if it's a dark day itself it's too well I see every wicked
wrinkle you have round by your eye.
-- [looking at him sharply.] -- The day's not dark since
the clouds broke in the east.
Let you not be tormenting yourself trying to make
me afeard. You told me a power of bad lies the time I was blind,
and it's right now for you to stop, and be taking your rest (Mary
Doul comes in unnoticed on right with a sack filled with green
stuff on her arm), for it's little ease or quiet any person would
get if the big fools of Ireland weren't weary at times. (He looks
up and sees Mary Doul.) Oh, glory be to God, she's coming again.
-- [amused, to Mary Doul, as she is going by without
looking at them.] -- Look on him now, Mary Doul. You'd be a
great one for keeping him steady at his work, for he's after
idling and blathering to this hour from the dawn of day.
-- [stiffly.] -- Of what is it you're speaking, Timmy
-- [laughing.] -- Of himself, surely. Look on him there,
and he with the shirt on him ripping from his back. You'd have a
right to come round this night, I'm thinking, and put a stitch
into his clothes, for it's long enough you are not speaking one
to the other.
Let the two of you not torment me at all.
-- [stops work and looks after her.] -- Well, isn't
it a queer thing she can't keep herself two days without looking
on my face?
-- [jeeringly.] -- Looking on your face is it? And she
after going by with her head turned the way you'd see a priest
going where there'd be a drunken man in the side ditch talking
with a girl. (Martin Doul gets up and goes to corner of forge,
and looks out left.) Come back here and don't mind her at all.
Come back here, I'm saying, you've no call to be spying behind
her since she went off, and left you, in place of breaking her
heart, trying to keep you in the decency of clothes and food.
-- [crying out indignantly.] -- You know rightly,
Timmy, it was myself drove her away.
That's a lie you're telling, yet it's little I care which
one of you was driving the other, and let you walk back here, I'm
saying, to your work.
-- [turning round.] -- I'm coming, surely.
[He stops and looks out right, going a step or two towards
There's a person walking above. . . . It's Molly
Byrne, I'm thinking, coming down with her can.
If she is itself let you not be idling this day, or
minding her at all, and let you hurry with them sticks, for I'll
want you in a short while to be blowing in the forge. [He throws
-- [crying out.] -- Is it roasting me now you'd be?
(Turns back and sees pot-hooks; he takes them up.) Pot-hooks?
Is it over them you've been inside sneezing and sweating since
the dawn of day?
-- [resting himself on anvil, with satisfaction.] -- I'm
making a power of things you do have when you're settling with a
wife, Martin Doul; for I heard tell last night the Saint'll be
passing again in a short while, and I'd have him wed Molly with
myself. . . . He'd do it, I've heard them say, for not a penny at
-- [lays down hooks and looks at him steadily.] --
Molly'll be saying great praises now to the Almighty God and He
giving her a fine, stout, hardy man the like of you.
-- [uneasily.] -- And why wouldn't she, if she's a fine
-- [looking up right.] -- Why wouldn't she, indeed,
Timmy? . . . . The Almighty God's made a fine match in the two of
you, for if you went marrying a woman was the like of yourself
you'd be having the fearfullest little children, I'm thinking,
was ever seen in the world.
-- [seriously offended.] -- God forgive you! if you're an
ugly man to be looking at, I'm thinking your tongue's worse than
-- [hurt also.] -- Isn't it destroyed with the cold I
am, and if I'm ugly itself I never seen anyone the like of you
for dreepiness this day, Timmy the smith, and I'm thinking now
herself's coming above you'd have a right to step up into your
old shanty, and give a rub to your face, and not be sitting there
with your bleary eyes, and your big nose, the like of an old
scarecrow stuck down upon the road.
-- [looking up the road uneasily.] She's no call to mind
what way I look, and I after building a house with four rooms in
it above on the hill. (He stands up.) But it's a queer thing
the way yourself and Mary Doul are after setting every person in
this place, and up beyond to Rathvanna, talking of nothing, and
thinking of nothing, but the way they do be looking in the face.
(Going towards forge.) It's the devil's work you're after doing
with your talk of fine looks, and I'd do right, maybe, to step in
and wash the blackness from my eyes.
[He goes into forge. Martin Doul rubs his face furtively with
the tail of his coat. Molly Byrne comes on right with a
water-can, and begins to fill it at the well.]
It's a power of dirty days, and dark mornings, and
shabby-looking fellows (he makes a gesture over his shoulder) we
do have to be looking on when we have our sight, God help us, but
there's one fine thing we have, to be looking on a grand, white,
handsome girl, the like of you . . . . and every time I set my
eyes on you I do be blessing the saints, and the holy water, and
the power of the Lord Almighty in the heavens above.
I've heard the priests say it isn't looking on a
young girl would teach many to be saying their prayers. [Bailing
water into her can with a cup.]
It isn't many have been the way I was, hearing your
voice speaking, and not seeing you at all.
That should have been a queer time for an old,
wicked, coaxing fool to be sitting there with your eyes shut, and
not seeing a sight of girl or woman passing the road.
If it was a queer time itself it was great joy and
pride I had the time I'd hear your voice speaking and you passing
to Grianan (beginning to speak with plaintive intensity), for
it's of many a fine thing your voice would put a poor dark fellow
in mind, and the day I'd hear it it's of little else at all I
would be thinking.
I'll tell your wife if you talk to me the like of
that. . . . You've heard, maybe, she's below picking nettles for
the widow O'Flinn, who took great pity on her when she seen the
two of you fighting, and yourself putting shame on her at the
crossing of the roads.
-- [impatiently.] -- Is there no living person can
speak a score of words to me, or say "God speed you," itself,
without putting me in mind of the old woman, or that day either
-- [maliciously.] -- I was thinking it should be a
fine thing to put you in mind of the day you called the grand day
of your life.
Grand day, is it? (Plaintively again, throwing
aside his work, and leaning towards her.) Or a bad black day
when I was roused up and found I was the like of the little
children do be listening to the stories of an old woman, and do
be dreaming after in the dark night that it's in grand houses of
gold they are, with speckled horses to ride, and do be waking
again, in a short while, and they destroyed with the cold, and
the thatch dripping, maybe, and the starved ass braying in the
-- [working indifferently.] -- You've great romancing
this day, Martin Doul. Was it up at the still you were at the
fall of night?
-- [stands up, comes towards her, but stands at far
(right) side of well.] -- It was not, Molly Byrne, but lying down
in a little rickety shed. . . . Lying down across a sop of
straw, and I thinking I was seeing you walk, and hearing the
sound of your step on a dry road, and hearing you again, and you
laughing and making great talk in a high room with dry timber
lining the roof. For it's a fine sound your voice has that time,
and it's better I am, I'm thinking, lying down, the way a blind
man does be lying, than to be sitting here in the gray light
taking hard words of Timmy the smith.
-- [looking at him with interest.] -- It's queer talk
you have if it's a little, old, shabby stump of a man you are
I'm not so old as you do hear them say.
You're old, I'm thinking, to be talking that talk
with a girl.
-- [despondingly.] -- It's not a lie you're telling,
maybe, for it's long years I'm after losing from the world,
feeling love and talking love, with the old woman, and I fooled
the whole while with the lies of Timmy the smith.
-- [half invitingly.] -- It's a fine way you're
wanting to pay Timmy the smith. . . . And it's not his LIES
you're making love to this day, Martin Doul.
It is not, Molly, and the Lord forgive us all. (He
passes behind her and comes near her left.) For I've heard tell
there are lands beyond in Cahir Iveraghig and the Reeks of Cork
with warm sun in them, and fine light in the sky. (Bending
towards her.) And light's a grand thing for a man ever was
blind, or a woman, with a fine neck, and a skin on her the like
of you, the way we'd have a right to go off this day till we'd
have a fine life passing abroad through them towns of the south,
and we telling stories, maybe, or singing songs at the fairs.
-- [turning round half amused, and looking him over
from head to foot.] -- Well, isn't it a queer thing when your own
wife's after leaving you because you're a pitiful show, you'd
talk the like of that to me?
-- [drawing back a little, hurt, but indignant.] --
It's a queer thing, maybe, for all things is queer in the world.
(In a low voice with peculiar emphasis.) But there's one thing
I'm telling you, if she walked off away from me, it wasn't
because of seeing me, and I no more than I am, but because I was
looking on her with my two eyes, and she getting up, and eating
her food, and combing her hair, and lying down for her sleep.
-- [interested, off her guard.] -- Wouldn't any
married man you'd have be doing the like of that?
-- [seizing the moment that he has her attention.] --
I'm thinking by the mercy of God it's few sees anything but them
is blind for a space (with excitement.) It's a few sees the old
woman rotting for the grave, and it's few sees the like of
yourself. (He bends over her.) Though it's shining you are, like
a high lamp would drag in the ships out of the sea.
-- [shrinking away from him.] -- Keep off from me,
-- [quickly, with low, furious intensity.] -- It's
the truth I'm telling you. (He puts his hand on her shoulder and
shakes her.) And you'd do right not to marry a man is after
looking out a long while on the bad days of the world; for what
way would the like of him have fit eyes to look on yourself, when
you rise up in the morning and come out of the little door you
have above in the lane, the time it'd be a fine thing if a man
would be seeing, and losing his sight, the way he'd have your two
eyes facing him, and he going the roads, and shining above him,
and he looking in the sky, and springing up from the earth, the
time he'd lower his head, in place of the muck that seeing men do
meet all roads spread on the world.
-- [who has listened half mesmerized, starting away.]
-- It's the like of that talk you'd hear from a man would be
losing his mind.
-- [going after her, passing to her right.] -- It'd
be little wonder if a man near the like of you would be losing
his mind. Put down your can now, and come along with myself, for
I'm seeing you this day, seeing you, maybe, the way no man has
seen you in the world. (He takes her by the arm and tries to
pull her away softly to the right.) Let you come on now, I'm
saying, to the lands of Iveragh and the Reeks of Cork, where you
won't set down the width of your two feet and not be crushing
fine flowers, and making sweet smells in the air.
-- [laying down the can; trying to free herself.] --
Leave me go, Martin Doul! Leave me go, I'm saying!
Let you not be fooling. Come along now the little
path through the trees.
-- [crying out towards forge.] -- Timmy the smith.
(Timmy comes out of forge, and Martin Doul lets her go. Molly
Byrne, excited and breathless, pointing to Martin Doul.) Did
ever you hear that them that loses their sight loses their senses
along with it, Timmy the smith!
-- [suspicious, but uncertain.] -- He's no sense, surely,
and he'll be having himself driven off this day from where he's
good sleeping, and feeding, and wages for his work.
-- [as before.] -- He's a bigger fool than that,
Timmy. Look on him now, and tell me if that isn't a grand fellow
to think he's only to open his mouth to have a fine woman, the
like of me, running along by his heels.
[Martin Doul recoils towards centre, with his hand to his eyes;
Mary Doul is seen on left coming forward softly.]
-- [with blank amazement.] -- Oh, the blind is wicked
people, and it's no lie. But he'll walk off this day and not be
troubling us more.
[Turns back left and picks up Martin Doul's coat and stick; some
things fall out of coat pocket, which he gathers up again.]
-- [turns around, sees Mary Doul, whispers to Molly
Byrne with imploring agony.] -- Let you not put shame on me,
Molly, before herself and the smith. Let you not put shame on me
and I after saying fine words to you, and dreaming . . . dreams .
. . . in the night. (He hesitates, and looks round the sky.) Is
it a storm of thunder is coming, or the last end of the world?
(He staggers towards Mary Doul, tripping slightly over tin can.)
The heavens is closing, I'm thinking, with darkness and great
trouble passing in the sky. (He reaches Mary Doul, and seizes
her left arm with both his hands -- with a frantic cry.) Is it
darkness of thunder is coming, Mary Doul! Do you see me clearly
with your eyes?
-- [snatches her arm away, and hits him with empty sack
across the face.] -- I see you a sight too clearly, and let you
keep off from me now.
-- [clapping her hands.] -- That's right, Mary.
That's the way to treat the like of him is after standing there
at my feet and asking me to go off with him, till I'd grow an old
wretched road-woman the like of yourself.
-- [defiantly.] -- When the skin shrinks on your chin,
Molly Byrne, there won't be the like of you for a shrunk hag in
the four quarters of Ireland. . . . It's a fine pair you'd be,
[Martin Doul is standing at back right centre, with his back to
-- [coming over to Mary Doul.] -- Is it no shame you have
to let on she'd ever be the like of you?
It's them that's fat and flabby do be wrinkled young,
and that whitish yellowy hair she has does be soon turning the
like of a handful of thin grass you'd see rotting, where the wet
lies, at the north of a sty. (Turning to go out on right.) Ah,
it's a better thing to have a simple, seemly face, the like of my
face, for two-score years, or fifty itself, than to be setting
fools mad a short while, and then to be turning a thing would
drive off the little children from your feet.
[She goes out; Martin Doul has come forward again, mastering
himself, but uncertain.]
Oh, God protect us, Molly, from the words of the blind.
(He throws down Martin Doul's coat and stick.) There's your old
rubbish now, Martin Doul, and let you take it up, for it's all
you have, and walk off through the world, for if ever I meet you
coming again, if it's seeing or blind you are itself, I'll bring
out the big hammer and hit you a welt with it will leave you easy
till the judgment day.
-- [rousing himself with an effort.] -- What call
have you to talk the like of that with myself?
-- [pointing to Molly Byrne.] -- It's well you know what
call I have. It's well you know a decent girl, I'm thinking to
wed, has no right to have her heart scalded with hearing talk --
and queer, bad talk, I'm thinking -- from a raggy-looking fool
the like of you.
-- [raising his voice.] -- It's making game of you
she is, for what seeing girl would marry with yourself? Look on
him, Molly, look on him, I'm saying, for I'm seeing him still,
and let you raise your voice, for the time is come, and bid him
go up into his forge, and be sitting there by himself, sneezing
and sweating, and he beating pot-hooks till the judgment day. [He
seizes her arm again.]
-- [pushing Martin Doul aside.] -- Would you have me strike
you, Martin Doul? Go along now after your wife, who's a fit match
for you, and leave Molly with myself.
-- [despairingly.] -- Won't you raise your voice,
Molly, and lay hell's long curse on his tongue?
-- [on Timmy's left.] -- I'll be telling him it's
destroyed I am with the sight of you and the sound of your voice.
Go off now after your wife, and if she beats you again, let you
go after the tinker girls is above running the hills, or down
among the sluts of the town, and you'll learn one day, maybe, the
way a man should speak with a well-reared, civil girl the like of
me. (She takes Timmy by the arm.) Come up now into the forge
till he'll be gone down a bit on the road, for it's near afeard I
am of the wild look he has come in his eyes.
[She goes into the forge. Timmy stops in the doorway.]
Let me not find you out here again, Martin Doul. (He
bares his arm.) It's well you know Timmy the smith has great
strength in his arm, and it's a power of things it has broken a
sight harder than the old bone of your skull.
[He goes into the forge and pulls the door after him.]
-- [stands a moment with his hand to his eyes.] --
And that's the last thing I'm to set my sight on in the life of
the world -- the villainy of a woman and the bloody strength of a
man. Oh, God, pity a poor, blind fellow, the way I am this day
with no strength in me to do hurt to them at all. (He begins
groping about for a moment, then stops.) Yet if I've no strength
in me I've a voice left for my prayers, and may God blight them
this day, and my own soul the same hour with them, the way I'll
see them after, Molly Byrne and Timmy the smith, the two of them
on a high bed, and they screeching in hell. . . . It'll be a
grand thing that time to look on the two of them; and they
twisting and roaring out, and twisting and roaring again, one day
and the next day, and each day always and ever. It's not blind
I'll be that time, and it won't be hell to me, I'm thinking, but
the like of heaven itself; and it's fine care I'll be taking the
Lord Almighty doesn't know. [He turns to grope out.]