At Clancy's Wake
by Stephen Crane
SCENERoom in the house of the lamented Clancy. The curtains are
pulled down. A perfume of old roses and whisky hangs in the air. A
weeping woman in black it seated at a table in the centre. A group of
wide-eyed children are sobbing in a corner. Down the side of the room
is a row of mourning friends of the family. Through an open door can be
seen, half hidden in shadows, the silver and black of a coffin.
WIDOWOh, wirra, wirra, wirra!
FRIENDS (conversing in low tones)Yis, Moike Clancy was a
foine mahn, sure! None betther! No, I don't t'ink so. Did he? Sure, all
th' elictions! He was th' bist in the warrud! He licked 'im widin an
inch of his loife, aisy, an' th' other wan a big, shtrappin' buck of a
mahn, an' him jes' free of th' pneumonia! Yis, he did! They carried th'
warrud by six hunder! Yis, he was a foine mahn. None betther. Gawd sav'
(Enter Mr. SLICK, of the Daily Blanket, shown in by a
maid-servant, whose hair has become disarranged through much
tear-shedding. He is attired in a suit of grey check, and wears a red
rose in his buttonhole.)
Mr. SLICKGood afternoon, Mrs. Clancy. This is a sad misfortune for
you, isn't it?
WIDOWOh, indade, indade, young mahn, me poor heart is bruk.
Mr. SLICKVery sad, Mrs. Clancy. A great misfortune, I'm sure. Now,
Mrs. Clancy, I've called to
WIDOWLittle did I t'ink, young mahn, win they brought poor Moike
in that it was th' lasht!
Mr. SLICK (with conviction)True! True! Very true, indeed.
It was a great grief to you, Mrs. Clancy. I've called this morning,
Mrs. Clancy, to see if I could get from you a short obituary notice for
the Blanket if you could
WIDOWAn' his hid was done up in a rag, an' he was cursin'
frightful. A damned Oytalian lit fall th' hod as Moike was walkin'
pasht as dacint as you plaze. Win they carried 'im in, him all bloody,
an' ravin' tur'ble 'bout Oytalians, me heart was near bruk, but I niver
tawtI niver tawtII niver(Breaks forth into a long, forlorn
cry. The children join in, and the chorus echoes wailfully through the
Mr. SLICK (as the yell, in a measure, ceases)Yes, indeed, a
sad, sad affair. A terrible misfortune. Now, Mrs. Clancy
WIDOW (turning suddenly)Mary Ann. Where's thot lazy divil
of a Mary Ann? (As the servant appears.) Mary Ann, bring th'
bottle! Give th' gintlemin a dhrink!... Here's to Hiven savin' yez,
young mahn. (Drinks.)
Mr. SLICK (drinks)A noble whisky, Mrs. Clancy. Many thanks.
Now, Mrs. Clancy
WIDOWTake anodder wan! Take anodder wan! (Fills his glass.)
Mr. SLICK (impatiently)Yes, certainly, Mrs. Clancy,
certainly. (He drinks.) Now, could you tell me, Mrs. Clancy,
where your late husband was
WIDOWWhoMoike? Oh, young mahn, yez can just say thot he was the
foinest mahn livin' an' breathin', an' niver a wan in th' warrud was
betther. Oh, but he had th' tindther heart for 'is fambly, he did.
Don't I remimber win he clipped little Patsey wid th' bottle, an'
didn't he buy th' big rockin'-horse th' minit he got sober? Sure he
did. Pass th' bottle, Mary Ann! (Pours a beer-glass about half-full
for her guest.)
Mr. SLICK (taking a seat)True, Mr. Clancy was a fine man,
Mrs. Clancya very fine man. Now, I
WIDOW (plaintively)An' don't yez loike th' rum? Dhrink th'
rum, mahn! It was me own Moike's fav'rite bran'. Well I remimber win he
fotched it home, an' half th' demijohn gone a'ready, an' him a-cursin'
up th' stairs as dhrunk as Gawd plazed. It was aDhrink th' rum, young
mahn, dhrink th' rum! If he cud see yez now, Moike Clancy wud git up
Mr. SLICK (desperately)Very well, very well, Mrs. Clancy.
Here's your good health. Now, can you tell me, Mrs. Clancy, when was
Mr. Clancy born?
WIDOWWin was he borrun. Sure, divil a bit do I care win he was
borrun. He was th' good mahn to me an' his childher; an' Gawd knows I
don't care win he was borrun. Mary Ann, pass th' bottle! Wud yez kape
th' gintlemin starvin' for a dhrink here in Moike Clancy's own house?
Gawd save yez.
(When the bottle appears she pours a huge quantity out for her
Mr. SLICKWell, then, Mrs. Clancy, where was he born?
WIDOW (staring)In Oirland, mahn, in Oirland! Where did yez
t'ink? (Then, in sudden, wheedling tones.) An' ain't yez goin'
to dhrink th' rum? Are yez goin' to shirk th' good whisky what was th'
pride of Moike's life, an' him gettin' full on it an' breakin' th'
furnitir t'ree nights a week hard-runnin'? Shame an yez, an' Gawd save
yer soul. Dhrink it oop now, there's a dear, dhrink it oop now, an'
say: Moike Clancy, be all th' powers in th' shky, Hiven sind yez
Mr. SLICK(to himself)Holy smoke! (He drinks, then
regards the glass for a long time.) ... Well, now, Mrs. Clancy,
give me your attention for a moment, please. When did
WIDOWAn' oh, but he was a power in th' warrud! Divil a mahn cud
vote right widout Moike Clancy at 'is elbow. An' in th' calkus, sure
didn't Mulrooney git th' nominashun jes' by raison of Moike's
atthackin' th' opposashun wid th' shtove-poker. Mulrooney got it as
aisy as dhirt, wid Moike rowlin' under th' tayble wid th' other
candeedate. He was a good sit'zen, was Moikedivil a wan betther.
Mr. SLICK spends some minutes in collecting his faculties.
Mr. SLICK (after he decides that he has them collected)Yes,
yes, Mrs. Clancy, your husband's h-highly successful pol-pol-political
career was w-well known to the public; but what I want to know iswhat
I want to know(Pauses to consider.)
WIDOW (finally)Pass th' glasses, Mary Ann, yez lazy divil;
give th' gintlemin a dhrink! Here (tendering him a glass), take
anodder wan to Moike Clancy, an' Gawd save yez for yer koindness to a
poor widee woman!
Mr. SLICK (after solemnly regarding the glass)Certainly,
II'll take a drink. Certainly, MMish Clanshy. Yes, certainly, Mish
Clanshy. Now, Mish Clanshy, w-w-wash was Mr. Clanshy's n-name before he
married you, Mish Clanshy?
WIDOW (astonished)Why, divil a bit else but Clancy.
Mr. SLICK (after reflection)Well, but I meanI mean, Mish
Clanshy, I meanwhat was date of birth? Did marry you 'fore then, or
d-did marry you when 'e was born in N' York, Mish Clanshy?
WIDOWPhwat th' divil
Mr. SLICK (with dignity)Ansher my queshuns, pleash, Mish
Clanshy. Did 'e bring chil'en withum f'm Irelan', or was you, after
married in N' York, mother those chil'en 'e brought f'm Irelan'?
WIDOWBe th' powers above, I
Mr. SLICK (with gentle patience)I don't shink y' unnerstan'
m' queshuns, Mish Clanshy. What I wanna fin' out is, what was 'e born
in N' York for when he, before zat, came f'm Irelan'? Dash what puzzels
me. I-I'm completely puzzled. An' alsho, I wanna fin' outI wanna fin'
out, if poshblezat is, if it's poshble shing, I wanna fin' outI
wanna fin' outif poshbleI wanna-shay, who the blazesh is dead here,