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Of Costello The Proud, Of OOna The Daughter Of Dermott, And Of The Bitter tongue
by [?]

Costello had come up from the fields and lay upon the ground before the door of his square tower, resting his head upon his hands and looking at the sunset, and considering the chances of the weather. Though the customs of Elizabeth and James, now going out of fashion in England, had begun to prevail among the gentry, he still wore the great cloak of the native Irish; and the sensitive outlines of his face and the greatness of his indolent body had a commingling of pride and strength which belonged to a simpler age. His eyes wandered from the sunset to where the long white road lost itself over the south-western horizon and to a horseman who toiled slowly up the hill. A few more minutes and the horseman was near enough for his little and shapeless body, his long Irish cloak, and the dilapidated bagpipes hanging from his shoulders, and the rough-haired garron under him, to be seen distinctly in the grey dusk. So soon as he had come within earshot, he began crying: ‘Is it sleeping you are, Tumaus Costello, when better men break their hearts on the great white roads? Get up out of that, proud Tumaus, for I have news! Get up out of that, you great omadhaun! Shake yourself out of the earth, you great weed of a man!’

Costello had risen to his feet, and as the piper came up to him seized him by the neck of his jacket, and lifting him out of his saddle threw him on to the ground.

‘Let me alone, let me alone,’ said the other, but Costello still shook him.

‘I have news from Dermott’s daughter, Winny,’ The great fingers were loosened, and the piper rose gasping.

‘Why did you not tell me,’ said Costello, that you came from her? You might have railed your fill.’

‘I have come from her, but I will not speak unless I am paid for my shaking.’

Costello fumbled at the bag in which he carried his money, and it was some time before it would open, for the hand that had overcome many men shook with fear and hope. ‘Here is all the money in my bag,’ he said, dropping a stream of French and Spanish money into the hand of the piper, who bit the coins before he would answer.

‘That is right, that is a fair price, but I will not speak till I have good protection, for if the Dermotts lay their hands upon me in any boreen after sundown, or in Cool-a-vin by day, I will be left to rot among the nettles of a ditch, or hung on the great sycamore, where they hung the horse-thieves last Beltaine four years.’ And while he spoke he tied the reins of his garron to a bar of rusty iron that was mortared into the wall.

‘I will make you my piper and my bodyservant,’ said Costello, ‘and no man dare lay hands upon the man, or the goat, or the horse, or the dog that is Tumaus Costello’s.’

‘And I will only tell my message,’ said the other, flinging the saddle on the ground, ‘in the corner of the chimney with a noggin in my hand, and a jug of the Brew of the Little Pot beside me, for though I am ragged and empty, my forbears were well clothed and full until their house was burnt and their cattle harried seven centuries ago by the Dillons, whom I shall yet see on the hob of hell, and they screeching’; and while he spoke the little eyes gleamed and the thin hands clenched.

Costello led him into the great rush-strewn hall, where were none of the comforts which had begun to grow common among the gentry, but a feudal gauntness and bareness, and pointed to the bench in the great chimney; and when he had sat down, filled up a horn noggin and set it on the bench beside him, and set a great black jack of leather beside the noggin, and lit a torch that slanted out from a ring in the wall, his hands trembling the while; and then turned towards him and said: ‘Will Dermott’s daughter come to me, Duallach, son of Daly?’