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PAGE 3

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

They tied their horses to bushes, for the number so tied already showed that the stables were full, and shoved their way through a crowd of peasants who stood about the door, and went into the great hall where the dance was. The labourer, the half-witted fellow, the farmer and the two lads mixed with a group of servants who were looking on from an alcove, and Duallach sat with the pipers on their bench, but Costello made his way through the dancers to where Dermott of the Sheep stood with Namara of the Lake pouring Poteen out of a porcelain jug into horn noggins with silver rims.

‘Tumaus Costello,’ said the old man, ‘you have done a good deed to forget what has been, and to fling away enmity and come to the betrothal of my daughter to Namara of the Lake.’

‘I come,’ answered Costello, ‘because when in the time of Costello De Angalo my forbears overcame your forbears and afterwards made peace, a compact was made that a Costello might go with his body-servants and his piper to every feast given by a Dermott for ever, and a Dermott with his body-servants and his piper to every feast given by a Costello for ever.’

‘If you come with evil thoughts and armed men,’ said the son of Dermott flushing,’ no matter how strong your hands to wrestle and to swing the sword, it shall go badly with you, for some of my wife’s clan have come out of Mayo, and my three brothers and their servants have come down from the Ox Mountains’; and while he spoke he kept his hand inside his coat as though upon the handle of a weapon.

‘No,’ answered Costello, ‘I but come to dance a farewell dance with your daughter.’

Dermott drew his hand out of his coat and went over to a tall pale girl who was now standing but a little way off with her mild eyes fixed upon the ground.

‘Costello has come to dance a farewell dance, for he knows that you will never see one another again.’

The girl lifted her eyes and gazed at Costello, and in her gaze was that trust of the humble in the proud, the gentle in the violent, which has been the tragedy of woman from the beginning. Costello led her among the dancers, and they were soon drawn into the rhythm of the Pavane, that stately dance which, with the Saraband, the Gallead, and the Morrice dances, had driven out, among all but the most Irish of the gentry, the quicker rhythms of the verse-interwoven, pantomimic dances of earlier days; and while they danced there came over them the unutterable melancholy, the weariness with the world, the poignant and bitter pity for one another, the vague anger against common hopes and fears, which is the exultation of love. And when a dance ended and the pipers laid down their pipes and lifted their horn noggins, they stood a little from the others waiting pensively and silently for the dance to begin again and the fire in their hearts to leap up and to wrap them anew; and so they danced and danced Pavane and Saraband and Gallead and Morrice through the night long, and many stood still to watch them, and the peasants came about the door and peered in, as though they understood that they would gather their children’s children about them long hence, and tell how they had seen Costello dance with Dermott’s daughter Oona, and become by the telling themselves a portion of ancient romance; but through all the dancing and piping Namara of the Lake went hither and thither talking loudly and making foolish jokes that all might seem well with him, and old Dermott of the Sheep grew redder and redder, and looked oftener and oftener at the doorway to see if the candles there grew yellow in the dawn.

At last he saw that the moment to end had come, and, in a pause after a dance, cried out from where the horn noggins stood that his daughter would now drink the cup of betrothal; then Oona came over to where he was, and the guests stood round in a half-circle, Costello close to the wall to the right, and the piper, the labourer, the farmer, the half-witted man and the two farm lads close behind him. The old man took out of a niche in the wall the silver cup from which her mother and her mother’s mother had drunk the toasts of their betrothals, and poured Poteen out of a porcelain jug and handed the cup to his daughter with the customary words, ‘Drink to him whom you love the best.’