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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 117, No. 2 (August, 1930)

Mason, Arthur
The wee men of Ballywooden,   pp. 20-21 PDF (1.4 MB)

Page 20

I\,~#\ E N ~,i~jK\,
"Weigh down your
minds!" cried
the Paver.  Stick together!  If I
only had an eyeful of moonlight I'd
tell you which way we are going"
-                    '\~    ~":
BY       A  RT
Strange things can hc
Ireland -and begorr
did, on the night of
wind when even th
were blown away
OLD l     ANNs  OTAY    and his
donkey lived in a hut by the sea, and Danny sold fish
ppen ifl through the country.
People wondered how he got his fish. He was never
known to bu' from fishermen, nor did he ever fish him-
self. But before he went to bed, he put the wee saddle
on his donkey. Another thing he did, and he never
missed a night. lie would fill his clay pipe and light it,
and puff on it for a bit. Then he'd open the door and lax
th e bi g the smoking pipe on the doorstep, saying. as he yawned:
"A fine night it is, with the sea talking and the corn-
crakes singing. Well, have your smoke and take your
fdonkey ride. You'll not be forgetting my fish for the
Sfairies    morning. Good night to yez all."
Then he'd close and bar the door and lie down on his
bed of straw. and sleep until Jerry, his donkey, heehawed
him awake. Then up he'd get and open the door, and out
to his two-wheel cart he'd go to look at his fish. There
they'd be. fresh from the sea, every one of them. Old
Dannv would smile. "Ah, and it's a fine catch they had
last night," he'd say.
This had been going on for quite a while, and old
Danny and his donkey thrived fairly well. He had his
bowl of red tea and potatoes and cabbage, and once in a
while the leg of a duck. Old Danny was happy as he
drove through the country, shouting his song:
"Fresh fish! Fresh fish! Fresh fish!"
Then came a day when Danny's customers questioned
his honesty.
"Say, Danny O'Fay," they asked, "where do you get
your fish? You never buy from fishermen, nor do you
ever fish yourself."
"Is it stealing fish you're thinking I am?"
"Oh, the Lord forbid!" said Mrs. Blaney, "and us
eating every morsel of them. It isn't that at all, at all,
Danny O'Fay, but worse! Our eyes we've been keeping
on you lately, and it's said, by word of mouth, that in the
dark of the moon, wee lights are seen dancing round
your hut. Now, Danny O'Fay, if it's harboring Willie
the Wisp you are, and all of his clan, not a fish will we
buy from you!"
T UT, TUT," said Danny. "You're all astray in your
mind. It's eating too much oatmeal you are, and not
enough fish out of the sea."
"Away with you, Danny O'Fay," they scolded. "Look
at the saddle marks on your donkey! How do you explain
"I do a bit of riding in my sleep," answered Danny.
"And as for the wee lights you do be seeing in the dark
of the moon, sure it may be the flicker of your own
candle lights that you haven't blinked out of your eyes."
"Oh, no, Danny O'Fay, it's pious men have seen the
lights, and they have warned us to buy no more of your
fish. Away with you now!"
"Get up!" said Danny to his donkey. "It's terrible
times we do be having, with people not believing, nor
buying my fish. Well, well, what will become of us,
All day long he drove through the country, but not a
fish could he sell. Nor would the farmers speak to him
when he passed. They looked the other way. So, heart-
sore and weary, he turned his donkey homeward, and by
the time he reached the four roads, a mile or more from
his hut, a wall of clouds banked the setting sun.
Old Danny looked up at the cloud-growing sky. Said
he to himself, "I hear the crows scolding on the wing to
their nests, but not a sign of one do I see. Put longer
strides into your steps!" he shouted to his donkey. "Is
it blind you are, that you can't see the clouds falling?
Don't be listening to the frogs croaking or the crickets
a-singing. Can't you hear the wind starting a fight in the
whins? On with you, I say, before the pitch of the night
swallows us up!" And Danny trudged on behind his
donkey cart, thinking the while of the wind and the power
,f it, and of the morrow with the fish in his cart left to rot.
THE ROAD now ribboned itself along the strand, and
Danny looked out at the sea.
"The wee men will be doing no fishing tonight," said
he to himself, "not with the waves coughing the hearts
out of themselves the way they are. Ah, and sure and I'll
have to be telling them to put their wee nets away. I
can't sell a fish. There's a blight upon me. But they'll
have their smoke and their donkey ride just the same!"

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