Act III
 

[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.]

MARY DOUL
-- [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, blind also.]

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

MARY DOUL
-- [indignantly.] -- Let you not be telling lies to the Almighty God.

MARTIN DOUL
Mary Doul, is it? (Recovering himself with immense relief.) Is it Mary Doul, I'm saying?

MARY DOUL
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

MARY DOUL
You'll be grand then, and it's no lie.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [sitting down shyly, some way off.] -- You've no call to be talking, for I've heard tell you're as blind as myself.

MARY DOUL
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.

MARTIN DOUL
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.

MARY DOUL
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.]

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
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!

MARY DOUL
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [with real admiration.] -- You're a cute thinking woman, Mary Doul, and it's no lie.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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?

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
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.

MARY DOUL
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 griseldy chin.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [rubs his chin ruefully, then beams with delight.] -- There's one thing you've forgot, if you're a cute thinking woman itself.

MARY DOUL
Your slouching feet, is it? Or your hooky neck, or your two knees is black with knocking one on the other?

MARTIN DOUL
-- [with delighted scorn.] -- There's talking for a cute woman. There's talking, surely!

MARY DOUL
-- [puzzled at joy of his voice.] -- If you'd anything but lies to say you'd be talking to yourself.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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 your tongue.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
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.

MARY DOUL
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.

MARTIN DOUL
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.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.)

MARTIN DOUL
What's that is sounding in the west? [A faint sound of a bell is heard.]

MARY DOUL
It's not the churches, for the wind's blowing from the sea.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [with dismay.] -- It's the old Saint, I'm thinking, ringing his bell.

MARY DOUL
The Lord protect us from the saints of God! (They listen.) He's coming this road, surely.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [tentatively.] -- Will we be running off, Mary Doul?

MARY DOUL
What place would we run?

MARTIN DOUL
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.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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 before.

MARY DOUL
Would we have a right to be crawling in below under the sticks?

MARTIN DOUL
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?

MARY DOUL
-- [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?

[The bell sounds nearby.]

MARTIN DOUL
-- [in despair.] -- He's coming now, and we won't get off from him at all.

MARY DOUL
Could we hide in the bit of a briar is growing at the west butt of the church?

MARTIN DOUL
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.]

MARY DOUL
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [turning his head anxiously.] -- It's easy heard you are; and will you be holding your tongue?

MARY DOUL
-- [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?

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.

MARY DOUL
Let you not be whispering sin, Martin Doul, or maybe it's the finger of God they'd see pointing to ourselves.

MARTIN DOUL
It's yourself is speaking madness, Mary Doul; haven't you heard the Saint say it's the wicked do be blind?

MARY DOUL
If it is you'd have a right to speak a big, terrible word would make the water not cure us at all.

MARTIN DOUL
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?

MARY DOUL
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.]

TIMMY
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.

SAINT
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.

MAT SIMON
-- [at their seat.] -- There are the rushes they do have lying round on the stones. It's not far off they'll be, surely.

MOLLY BYRNE
-- [pointing with astonishment.] -- Look beyond, Timmy. [They all look over and see Martin Doul.]

TIMMY
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 all!

MARTIN DOUL
-- [scrambling up with Mary Doul.] -- What is it you want, Timmy, that you can't leave us in peace?

TIMMY
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 seeds.]

PEOPLE
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.]

SAINT
Let you not be afeard, for there's great pity with the Lord.

MARTIN DOUL
We aren't afeard, holy father.

SAINT
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.]

SAINT
You can kneel down here, I'm saying, we'll not trouble this time going to the church.

TIMMY
-- [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?

SAINT
Kneel down, I'm saying, the ground's dry at your feet.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [with distress.] -- Let you go on your own way, holy father. We're not calling you at all.

SAINT
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

SAINT
-- [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?

MARTIN DOUL
It's wonders enough I seen in a short space for the life of one man only.

SAINT
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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 --.

SAINT
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.

MARTIN DOUL
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 plough.

SAINT
-- [to People.] -- There's little use talking with the like of him.

MOLLY BYRNE
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

MOLLY BYRNE
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 heart.

TIMMY
-- [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?

SAINT
-- [to Mary Doul.] -- If you have any sense, Mary, kneel down at my feet, and I'll bring the sight again into your eyes.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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?

SAINT
-- [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.

MARY DOUL
-- [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.

MOLLY BYRNE
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 road.

TIMMY
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 the world.

MAT SIMON
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.

MARY DOUL
-- [half persuaded.] -- That's the truth, maybe.

SAINT
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.

THE PEOPLE
Kneel down, Mary! Kneel down when you're bid by the Saint!

MARY DOUL
-- [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.]

SAINT
-- [to Martin Doul.] -- Go aside now; we're not wanting you here.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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 road.

SAINT
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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [pulling Mary Doul.] -- Come along now, and don't mind him at all.

SAINT
-- [imperiously, to the People.] -- Let you take that man and drive him down upon the road. [Some men seize Martin Doul.]

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.

SAINT
-- [to People.] -- Let him be. . . . . Let him be if his sense is come to him at all.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

[He kneels down a little before Mary Doul.]

SAINT
-- [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.

MARTIN DOUL
-- [listening eagerly.] -- I'm waiting now, holy father.

SAINT
-- [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.]

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

[He gropes towards his stone with Mary Doul.]

MAT SIMON
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?

SAINT
-- [tying his girdle.] -- God has great mercy, but great wrath for them that sin.

THE PEOPLE
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.]

MARTIN DOUL
-- [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.

MARY DOUL
-- [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 out.]

TIMMY
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.

SAINT
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.]