Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

PAGE 4

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

She held the cup to her lips for a moment, and then said in a clear soft voice: ‘I drink to my true love, Tumaus Costello.’

And then the cup rolled over and over on the ground, ringing like a bell, for the old man had struck her in the face and the cup had fallen, and there was a deep silence.

There were many of Namara’s people among the servants now come out of the alcove, and one of them, a story-teller and poet, a last remnant of the bardic order, who had a chair and a platter in Namara’s kitchen, drew a French knife out of his girdle and made as though he would strike at Costello, but in a moment a blow had hurled him to the ground, his shoulder sending the cup rolling and ringing again. The click of steel had followed quickly, had not there come a muttering and shouting from the peasants about the door and from those crowding up behind them; and all knew that these were no children of Queen’s Irish or friendly Namaras and Dermotts, but of the wild Irish about Lough Gara and Lough Cara, who rowed their skin coracles, and had masses of hair over their eyes, and left the right arms of their children unchristened that they might give the stouter blows, and swore only by St. Atty and sun and moon, and worshipped beauty and strength more than St. Atty or sun and moon.

Costello’s hand had rested upon the handle of his sword and his knuckles had grown white, but now he drew it away, and, followed by those who were with him, strode towards the door, the dancers giving way before him, the most angrily and slowly, and with glances at the muttering and shouting peasants, but some gladly and quickly, because the glory of his fame was over him. He passed through the fierce and friendly peasant faces, and came where his good horse and the rough- haired garrons were tied to bushes; and mounted and bade his ungainly bodyguard mount also and ride into the narrow boreen. When they had gone a little way, Duallach, who rode last, turned towards the house where a little group of Dermotts and Namaras stood next to a more numerous group of countrymen, and cried: ‘Dermott, you deserve to be as you are this hour, a lantern without a candle, a purse without a penny, a sheep without wool, for your hand was ever niggardly to piper and fiddler and story-teller and to poor travelling people.’ He had not done before the three old Dermotts from the Ox Mountains had run towards their horses, and old Dermott himself had caught the bridle of a garron of the Namaras and was calling to the others to follow him; and many blows and many deaths had been had not the countrymen caught up still glowing sticks from the ashes of the fires and hurled them among the horses with loud cries, making all plunge and rear, and some break from those who held them, the whites of their eyes gleaming in the dawn.

For the next few weeks Costello had no lack of news of Oona, for now a woman selling eggs or fowls, and now a man or a woman on pilgrimage to the Well of the Rocks, would tell him how his love had fallen ill the day after St. John’s Eve, and how she was a little better or a little worse, as it might be; and though he looked to his horses and his cows and goats as usual, the common and uncomely, the dust upon the roads, the songs of men returning from fairs and wakes, men playing cards in the corners of fields on Sundays and Saints’ Days, the rumours of battles and changes in the great world, the deliberate purposes of those about him, troubled him with an inexplicable trouble; and the country people still remember how when night had fallen he would bid Duallach of the Pipes tell, to the chirping of the crickets, ‘The Son of Apple,’ ‘The Beauty of the World,’ ‘The King of Ireland’s Son,’ or some other of those traditional tales which were as much a piper’s business as ‘The Green Bunch of Rushes,’ ‘The Unchion Stream,’ or ‘The Chiefs of Breffeny’; and while the boundless and phantasmal world of the legends was a-building, would abandon himself to the dreams of his sorrow.