[The same Scene as in first Act, but gap in centre has been
filled with briars, or branches of some sort. Mary Doul, blind
again, gropes her way in on left, and sits as before. She has a
few rushes with her. It is an early spring day.]
-- [mournfully.] -- Ah, God help me . . . God help me;
the blackness wasn't so black at all the other time as it is this
time, and it's destroyed I'll be now, and hard set to get my
living working alone, when it's few are passing and the winds are
cold. (She begins shredding rushes.) I'm thinking short days
will be long days to me from this time, and I sitting here, not
seeing a blink, or hearing a word, and no thought in my mind but
long prayers that Martin Doul'll get his reward in a short while
for the villainy of his heart. It's great jokes the people'll be
making now, I'm thinking, and they pass me by, pointing their
fingers maybe, and asking what place is himself, the way it's no
quiet or decency I'll have from this day till I'm an old woman
with long white hair and it twisting from my brow. (She fumbles
with her hair, and then seems to hear something. Listens for a
moment.) There's a queer, slouching step coming on the road. . .
. God help me, he's coming surely.
[She stays perfectly quiet. Martin Doul gropes in on right,
-- [gloomily.] -- The devil mend Mary Doul for
putting lies on me, and letting on she was grand. The devil mend
the old Saint for letting me see it was lies. (He sits down near
her.) The devil mend Timmy the smith for killing me with hard
work, and keeping me with an empty, windy stomach in me, in the
day and in the night. Ten thousand devils mend the soul of Molly
Byrne -- (Mary Doul nods her head with approval.) -- and the bad,
wicked souls is hidden in all the women of the world. (He rocks
himself, with his hand over his face.) It's lonesome I'll be
from this day, and if living people is a bad lot, yet Mary Doul,
herself, and she a dirty, wrinkled-looking hag, was better maybe
to be sitting along with than no one at all. I'll be getting my
death now, I'm thinking, sitting alone in the cold air, hearing
the night coming, and the blackbirds flying round in the briars
crying to themselves, the time you'll hear one cart getting off a
long way in the east, and another cart getting off a long way in
the west, and a dog barking maybe, and a little wind turning the
sticks. (He listens and sighs heavily.) I'll be destroyed
sitting alone and losing my senses this time the way I'm after
losing my sight, for it'd make any person afeard to be sitting up
hearing the sound of his breath -- (he moves his feet on the
stones) -- and the noise of his feet, when it's a power of queer
things do be stirring, little sticks breaking, and the grass
moving -- (Mary Doul half sighs, and he turns on her in horror)
-- till you'd take your dying oath on sun and moon a thing was
breathing on the stones. (He listens towards her for a moment,
then starts up nervously, and gropes about for his stick.) I'll
be going now, I'm thinking, but I'm not sure what place my
stick's in, and I'm destroyed with terror and dread. (He touches
her face as he is groping about and cries out.) There's a thing
with a cold, living face on it sitting up at my side. (He turns
to run away, but misses his path and stumbles in against the
wall.) My road is lost on me now! Oh, merciful God, set my foot
on the path this day, and I'll be saying prayers morning and
night, and not straining my ear after young girls, or doing any
bad thing till I die.
-- [indignantly.] -- Let you not be telling lies to the
Mary Doul, is it? (Recovering himself with immense
relief.) Is it Mary Doul, I'm saying?
There's a sweet tone in your voice I've not heard for
a space. You're taking me for Molly Byrne, I'm thinking.
-- [coming towards her, wiping sweat from his face.]
-- Well, sight's a queer thing for upsetting a man. It's a queer
thing to think I'd live to this day to be fearing the like of
you; but if it's shaken I am for a short while, I'll soon be
coming to myself.
-- [sitting down shyly, some way off.] -- You've no
call to be talking, for I've heard tell you're as blind as
If I am I'm bearing in mind I'm married to a little
dark stump of a fellow looks the fool of the world, and I'll be
bearing in mind from this day the great hullabuloo he's after
making from hearing a poor woman breathing quiet in her place.
And you'll be bearing in mind, I'm thinking, what
you seen a while back when you looked down into a well, or a
clear pool, maybe, when there was no wind stirring and a good
light in the sky.
I'm minding that surely, for if I'm not the way the
liars were saying below I seen a thing in them pools put joy and
blessing in my heart. [She puts her hand to her hair again.]
-- [laughing ironically.] -- Well, they were saying
below I was losing my senses, but I never went any day the length
of that. . . . God help you, Mary Doul, if you're not a wonder
for looks, you're the maddest female woman is walking the
counties of the east.
-- [scornfully.] You were saying all times you'd a
great ear for hearing the lies of the world. A great ear, God
help you, and you think you're using it now.
If it's not lies you're telling would you have me
think you're not a wrinkled poor woman is looking like three
scores, or two scores and a half!
I would not, Martin. (She leans forward earnestly.)
For when I seen myself in them pools, I seen my hair would be
gray or white, maybe, in a short while, and I seen with it that
I'd a face would be a great wonder when it'll have soft white
hair falling around it, the way when I'm an old woman there won't
be the like of me surely in the seven counties of the east.
-- [with real admiration.] -- You're a cute thinking
woman, Mary Doul, and it's no lie.
-- [triumphantly.] -- I am, surely, and I'm telling you
a beautiful white-haired woman is a grand thing to see, for I'm
told when Kitty Bawn was selling poteen below, the young men
itself would never tire to be looking in her face.
-- [taking off his hat and feeling his head, speaking
with hesitation.] -- Did you think to look, Mary Doul, would
there be a whiteness the like of that coming upon me?
-- [with extreme contempt.] -- On you, God help you! .
. . In a short while you'll have a head on you as bald as an old
turnip you'd see rolling round in the muck. You need never talk
again of your fine looks, Martin Doul, for the day of that talk's
gone for ever.
That's a hard word to be saying, for I was thinking
if I'd a bit of comfort, the like of yourself, it's not far off
we'd be from the good days went before, and that'd be a wonder
surely. But I'll never rest easy, thinking you're a gray,
beautiful woman, and myself a pitiful show.
I can't help your looks, Martin Doul. It wasn't
myself made you with your rat's eyes, and your big ears, and your
-- [rubs his chin ruefully, then beams with delight.]
-- There's one thing you've forgot, if you're a cute thinking
Your slouching feet, is it? Or your hooky neck, or
your two knees is black with knocking one on the other?
-- [with delighted scorn.] -- There's talking for a
cute woman. There's talking, surely!
-- [puzzled at joy of his voice.] -- If you'd anything
but lies to say you'd be talking to yourself.
-- [bursting with excitement.] -- I've this to say,
Mary Doul. I'll be letting my beard grow in a short while, a
beautiful, long, white, silken, streamy beard, you wouldn't see
the like of in the eastern world. . . . Ah, a white beard's a
grand thing on an old man, a grand thing for making the quality
stop and be stretching out their hands with good silver or gold,
and a beard's a thing you'll never have, so you may be holding
-- [laughing cheerfully.] -- Well, we're a great pair,
surely, and it's great times we'll have yet, maybe, and great
talking before we die.
Great times from this day, with the help of the
Almighty God, for a priest itself would believe the lies of an
old man would have a fine white beard growing on his chin.
There's the sound of one of them twittering yellow
birds do be coming in the spring-time from beyond the sea, and
there'll be a fine warmth now in the sun, and a sweetness in the
air, the way it'll be a grand thing to be sitting here quiet and
easy smelling the things growing up, and budding from the earth.
I'm smelling the furze a while back sprouting on
the hill, and if you'd hold your tongue you'd hear the lambs of
Grianan, though it's near drowned their crying is with the full
river making noises in the glen.
-- [listens.] -- The lambs is bleating, surely, and
there's cocks and laying hens making a fine stir a mile off on
the face of the hill. (She starts.)
What's that is sounding in the west? [A faint sound
of a bell is heard.]
It's not the churches, for the wind's blowing from
-- [with dismay.] -- It's the old Saint, I'm
thinking, ringing his bell.
The Lord protect us from the saints of God! (They
listen.) He's coming this road, surely.
-- [tentatively.] -- Will we be running off, Mary
There's the little path going up through the
sloughs. . . . If we reached the bank above, where the elders do
be growing, no person would see a sight of us, if it was a
hundred yeomen were passing itself; but I'm afeard after the time
we were with our sight we'll not find our way to it at all.
-- [standing up.] -- You'd find the way, surely.
You're a grand man the world knows at finding your way winter or
summer, if there was deep snow in it itself, or thick grass and
leaves, maybe, growing from the earth.
-- [taking her hand.] -- Come a bit this way; it's
here it begins. (They grope about gap.) There's a tree pulled
into the gap, or a strange thing happened, since I was passing it
Would we have a right to be crawling in below under
It's hard set I am to know what would be right.
And isn't it a poor thing to be blind when you can't run off
itself, and you fearing to see?
-- [nearly in tears.] -- It's a poor thing, God help
us, and what good'll our gray hairs be itself, if we have our
sight, the way we'll see them falling each day, and turning dirty
in the rain?
-- [in despair.] -- He's coming now, and we won't get
off from him at all.
Could we hide in the bit of a briar is growing at the
west butt of the church?
We'll try that, surely. (He listens a moment.) Let
you make haste; I hear them trampling in the wood. [They grope
over to church.]
It's the words of the young girls making a great stir
in the trees. (They find the bush.) Here's the briar on my left,
Martin; I'll go in first, I'm the big one, and I'm easy to see.
-- [turning his head anxiously.] -- It's easy heard
you are; and will you be holding your tongue?
-- [partly behind bush.] -- Come in now beside of me.
(They kneel down, still clearly visible.) Do you think they can
see us now, Martin Doul?
I'm thinking they can't, but I'm hard set to know;
for the lot of them young girls, the devil save them, have sharp,
terrible eyes, would pick out a poor man, I'm thinking, and he
lying below hid in his grave.
Let you not be whispering sin, Martin Doul, or maybe
it's the finger of God they'd see pointing to ourselves.
It's yourself is speaking madness, Mary Doul;
haven't you heard the Saint say it's the wicked do be blind?
If it is you'd have a right to speak a big, terrible
word would make the water not cure us at all.
What way would I find a big, terrible word, and I
shook with the fear; and if I did itself, who'd know rightly if
it's good words or bad would save us this day from himself?
They're coming. I hear their feet on the stones.
[The Saint comes in on right, with Timmy and Molly Byrne in
holiday clothes, the others as before.]
I've heard tell Martin Doul and Mary Doul were seen this
day about on the road, holy father, and we were thinking you'd
have pity on them and cure them again.
I would, maybe, but where are they at all? I have little
time left when I have the two of you wed in the church.
-- [at their seat.] -- There are the rushes they do
have lying round on the stones. It's not far off they'll be,
-- [pointing with astonishment.] -- Look beyond,
Timmy. [They all look over and see Martin Doul.]
Well, Martin's a lazy fellow to be lying in there at the
height of the day. (He goes over shouting.) Let you get up out
of that. You were near losing a great chance by your sleepiness
this day, Martin Doul. . . . The two of them's in it, God help us
-- [scrambling up with Mary Doul.] -- What is it you
want, Timmy, that you can't leave us in peace?
The Saint's come to marry the two of us, and I'm after
speaking a word for yourselves, the way he'll be curing you now;
for if you're a foolish man itself, I do be pitying you, for I've
a kind heart, when I think of you sitting dark again, and you
after seeing a while and working for your bread. [Martin Doul
takes Mary Doul's hand and tries to grope his way off right; he
has lost his hat, and they are both covered with dust and grass
You're going wrong. It's this way, Martin Doul.
[They push him over in front of the Saint, near centre. Martin
Doul and Mary Doul stand with piteous hang-dog dejection.]
Let you not be afeard, for there's great pity with the
It's many a time those that are cured with the well of
the four beauties of God lose their sight when a time is gone,
but those I cure a second time go on seeing till the hour of
death. (He takes the cover from his can.) I've a few drops only
left of the water, but, with the help of God, It'll be enough for
the two of you, and let you kneel down now upon the road. [Martin
Doul wheels round with Mary Doul and tries to get away.]
You can kneel down here, I'm saying, we'll not trouble
this time going to the church.
-- [turning Martin Doul round, angrily.] -- Are you going
mad in your head, Martin Doul? It's here you're to kneel. Did
you not hear his reverence, and he speaking to you now?
Kneel down, I'm saying, the ground's dry at your feet.
-- [with distress.] -- Let you go on your own way,
holy father. We're not calling you at all.
I'm not saying a word of pen- ance, or fasting itself,
for I'm thinking the Lord has brought you great teaching in the
blindness of your eyes; so you've no call now to be fearing me,
but let you kneel down till I give you your sight.
-- [more troubled.] -- We're not asking our sight,
holy father, and let you walk on your own way, and be fasting, or
praying, or doing anything that you will, but leave us here in
our peace, at the crossing of the roads, for it's best we are
this way, and we're not asking to see.
-- [to the People.] -- Is his mind gone that he's no wish
to be cured this day, or to be living or working, or looking on
the wonders of the world?
It's wonders enough I seen in a short space for the
life of one man only.
-- [severely.] -- I never heard tell of any person wouldn't
have great joy to be looking on the earth, and the image of the
Lord thrown upon men.
-- [raising his voice.] -- Them is great sights, holy
father. . . . What was it I seen when I first opened my eyes but
your own bleeding feet, and they cut with the stones? That was a
great sight, maybe, of the image of God. . . . And what was it I
seen my last day but the villainy of hell looking out from the
eyes of the girl you're coming to marry -- the Lord forgive you
-- with Timmy the smith. That was a great sight, maybe. And
wasn't it great sights I seen on the roads when the north winds
would be driving, and the skies would be harsh, till you'd see
the horses and the asses, and the dogs itself, maybe, with their
heads hanging, and they closing their eyes --.
And did you never hear tell of the summer, and the fine
spring, and the places where the holy men of Ireland have built
up churches to the Lord? No man isn't a madman, I'm thinking,
would be talking the like of that, and wishing to be closed up
and seeing no sight of the grand glittering seas, and the furze
that is opening above, and will soon have the hills shining as if
it was fine creels of gold they were, rising to the sky.
Is it talking now you are of Knock and Ballavore?
Ah, it's ourselves had finer sights than the like of them, I'm
telling you, when we were sitting a while back hearing the birds
and bees humming in every weed of the ditch, or when we'd be
smelling the sweet, beautiful smell does be rising in the warm
nights, when you do hear the swift flying things racing in the
air, till we'd be looking up in our own minds into a grand sky,
and seeing lakes, and big rivers, and fine hills for taking the
-- [to People.] -- There's little use talking with the like
It's lazy he is, holy father, and not wanting to
work; for a while before you had him cured he was always talking,
and wishing, and longing for his sight.
-- [turning on her.] -- I was longing, surely for
sight; but I seen my fill in a short while with the look of my
wife, and the look of yourself, Molly Byrne, when you'd the queer
wicked grin in your eyes you do have the time you're making game
with a man.
Let you not mind him, holy father; for it's bad
things he was saying to me a while back -- bad things for a
married man, your reverence -- and you'd do right surely to leave
him in darkness, if it's that is best fitting the villainy of his
-- [to Saint.] -- Would you cure Mary Doul, your reverence,
who is a quiet poor woman, never did hurt to any, or said a hard
word, saving only when she'd be vexed with himself, or with young
girls would be making game of her below?
-- [to Mary Doul.] -- If you have any sense, Mary, kneel
down at my feet, and I'll bring the sight again into your eyes.
-- [more defiantly.] -- You will not, holy father.
Would you have her looking on me, and saying hard words to me,
till the hour of death?
-- [severely.] -- If she's wanting her sight I wouldn't
have the like of you stop her at all. (To Mary Doul.) Kneel
down, I'm saying.
-- [doubtfully.] -- Let us be as we are, holy father,
and then we'll be known again in a short while as the people is
happy and blind, and be having an easy time, with no trouble to
live, and we getting halfpence on the road.
Let you not be a raving fool, Mary Doul. Kneel
down now, and let him give you your sight, and himself can be
sitting here if he likes it best, and taking halfpence on the
That's the truth, Mary; and if it's choosing a wilful
blindness you are, I'm thinking there isn't anyone in this place
will ever be giving you a hand's turn or a hap'orth of meal, or
be doing the little things you need to keep you at all living in
If you had your sight, Mary, you could be walking up
for him and down with him, and be stitching his clothes, and
keeping a watch on him day and night the way no other woman would
come near him at all.
-- [half persuaded.] -- That's the truth, maybe.
Kneel down now, I'm saying, for it's in haste I am to be
going on with the marriage and be walking my own way before the
fall of night.
Kneel down, Mary! Kneel down when you're bid by the
-- [looking uneasily towards Martin Doul.] -- Maybe
it's right they are, and I will if you wish it, holy father.
[She kneels down. The Saint takes off his hat and gives it to
some one near him. All the men take off their hats. He goes
forward a step to take Martin Doul's hand away from Mary Doul.]
-- [to Martin Doul.] -- Go aside now; we're not wanting you
-- [pushes him away roughly, and stands with his left
hand on Mary Doul's shoulder.] -- Keep off yourself, holy father,
and let you not be taking my rest from me in the darkness of my
wife. . . . What call has the like of you to be coming between
married people -- that you're not understanding at all -- and be
making a great mess with the holy water you have, and the length
of your prayers? Go on now, I'm saying, and leave us here on the
If it was a seeing man I heard talking to me the like of
that I'd put a black curse on him would weigh down his soul till
it'd be falling to hell; but you're a poor blind sinner, God
forgive you, and I don't mind you at all. (He raises his can.)
Go aside now till I give the blessing to your wife, and if you
won't go with your own will, there are those standing by will
make you, surely.
-- [pulling Mary Doul.] -- Come along now, and don't
mind him at all.
-- [imperiously, to the People.] -- Let you take that man
and drive him down upon the road. [Some men seize Martin Doul.]
-- [struggling and shouting.] -- Make them leave me
go, holy father! Make them leave me go, I'm saying, and you may
cure her this day, or do anything that you will.
-- [to People.] -- Let him be. . . . . Let him be if his
sense is come to him at all.
-- [shakes himself loose, feels for Mary Doul,
sinking his voice to a plausible whine.] -- You may cure herself,
surely, holy father; I wouldn't stop you at all -- and it's great
joy she'll have looking on your face -- but let you cure myself
along with her, the way I'll see when it's lies she's telling,
and be looking out day and night upon the holy men of God.
-- [speaking half to the People.] -- Men who are dark a
long while and thinking over queer thoughts in their heads,
aren't the like of simple men, who do be working every day, and
praying, and living like ourselves; so if he has found a right
mind at the last minute itself, I'll cure him, if the Lord will,
and not be thinking of the hard, foolish words he's after saying
this day to us all.
-- [with can in his hand, close to Martin Doul.] -- With
the power of the water from the grave of the four beauties of
God, with the power of this water, I'm saying, that I put upon
your eyes --. [He raises can.]
-- [with a sudden movement strikes the can from the
Saint's hand and sends it rocketing across stage. He stands up;
People murmur loudly.] -- If I'm a poor dark sinner I've sharp
ears, God help me, and have left you with a big head on you and
it's well I heard the little splash of the water you had there in
the can. Go on now, holy father, for if you're a fine Saint
itself, it's more sense is in a blind man, and more power maybe
than you're thinking at all. Let you walk on now with your worn
feet, and your welted knees, and your fasting, holy ways a thin
pitiful arm. (The Saint looks at him for a moment severely, then
turns away and picks up his can. He pulls Mary Doul up.) For if
it's a right some of you have to be working and sweating the like
of Timmy the smith, and a right some of you have to be fasting
and praying and talking holy talk the like of yourself, I'm
thinking it's a good right ourselves have to be sitting blind,
hearing a soft wind turning round the little leaves of the spring
and feeling the sun, and we not tormenting our souls with the
sight of the gray days, and the holy men, and the dirty feet is
trampling the world.
It'd be an unlucky fearful thing, I'm thinking, to
have the like of that man living near us at all in the townland
of Grianan. Wouldn't he bring down a curse upon us, holy father,
from the heavens of God?
-- [tying his girdle.] -- God has great mercy, but great
wrath for them that sin.
Go on now, Martin Doul. Go on from this place. Let
you not be bringing great storms or droughts on us maybe from the
power of the Lord. [Some of them throw things at him.]
-- [turning round defiantly and picking up a stone.]
-- Keep off now, the yelping lot of you, or it's more than one
maybe will get a bloody head on him with the pitch of my stone.
Keep off now, and let you not be afeard; for we're going on the
two of us to the towns of the south, where the people will have
kind voices maybe, and we won't know their bad looks or their
villainy at all. (He takes Mary Doul's hand again.) Come along
now and we'll be walking to the south, for we've seen too much of
everyone in this place, and it's small joy we'd have living near
them, or hearing the lies they do be telling from the gray of
dawn till the night.
-- [despondingly.] -- That's the truth, surely; and
we'd have a right to be gone, if it's a long way itself, as I've
heard them say, where you do have to be walking with a slough of
wet on the one side and a slough of wet on the other, and you
going a stony path with a north wind blowing behind. [They go
There's a power of deep rivers with floods in them where
you do have to be lepping the stones and you going to the south,
so I'm thinking the two of them will be drowned together in a
short while, surely.
They have chosen their lot, and the Lord have mercy on
their souls. (He rings his bell.) And let the two of you come
up now into the church, Molly Byrne and Timmy the smith, till I
make your marriage and put my blessing on you all.
[He turns to the church; procession forms, and the curtain comes
down, as they go slowly into the church.]