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The Bogie Men by Lady Augusta Gregory



Taig O'Harragha |     BOTH CHIMNEY
Darby Melody    |     SWEEPS


  Scene: A Shed near where a coach stops. Darby comes in. Has a tin
  can of water in one hand, a sweep's bag and brush in the other. He
  lays down bag on an empty box and puts can on the floor. Is taking a
  showy suit of clothes out of bag and admiring them and is about to
  put them on when he hears some one coming and hurriedly puts them
  back into the bag

Taig: (At door.) God save all here!

Darby: God save you. A sweep is it? (Suspiciously.) What brought you following me?

Taig: Why wouldn't I be a sweep as good as yourself?

Darby: It is not one of my own trade I came looking to meet with. It is a shelter I was searching out, where I could put on a decent appearance, rinsing my head and my features in a tin can of water.

Taig: Is it long till the coach will be passing by the cross-road beyond?

Darby: Within about a half an hour they were telling me.

Taig: There does be much people travelling to this place?

Darby: I suppose there might, and it being the high road from the town of Ennis.

Taig: It should be in this town you follow your trade?

Darby: It is not in the towns I do be.

Taig: There's nothing but the towns, since the farmers in the country clear out their own chimneys with a bush under and a bush overhead.

Darby: I travel only gentlemen's houses.

Taig: There does be more of company in the streets than you'd find on the bare road.

Darby: It isn't easy get company for a person has but two empty hands.

Taig: Wealth to be in the family it is all one nearly with having a grip of it in your own palm.

Darby: I wish to the Lord it was the one thing.

Taig: You to know what I know—

Darby: What is it that you know?

Taig: It is dealing out cards through the night time I will be from this out, and making bets on racehorses and fighting-cocks through all the hours of the day.

Darby: I would sooner to be sleeping in feathers and to do no hand's turn at all, day or night.

Taig: If I came paddling along through every place this day and the road hard under my feet, it is likely I will have my choice way leaving it.

Darby: How is that now?

Taig: A horse maybe and a car or two horses, or maybe to go in the coach, and I myself sitting alongside the man came in it.

Darby: Is it that he is taking you into his service?

Taig: Not at all! And I being of his own family and his blood.

Darby: Of his blood now?

Taig: A relation I have, that is full up of money and of every whole thing.

Darby: A relation?

Taig: A first cousin, by the side of the mother.

Darby: Well, I am not without having a first cousin of my own.

Taig: I wouldn't think he'd be much. To be listening to my mother giving out a report of my one's ways, you would maybe believe it is no empty skin of a man he is.

Darby: My own mother was not without giving out a report of my man's ways.

Taig: Did she see him?

Darby: She did, I suppose, or the thing was near him. She never was tired talking of him.

Taig: It is often my own mother would have Dermot pictured to myself.

Darby: It is often the likeness of Timothy was laid down to me by the teaching of my mother's mouth, since I was able to walk the floor. She thought the whole world of him.

Taig: A bright scholar she laid Dermot down to be. A good doing fellow for himself. A man would be well able to go up to his promise.

Darby: That is the same account used to be given out of Timothy.

Taig: To some trade of merchandise it is likely Dermot was reared. A good living man that was never any cost on his mother.

Darby: To own an estate before he would go far in age Timothy was on the road.

Taig: To have the handling of silks and jewelleries and to be free of them, and of suits and the making of suits, that is the way with the big merchants of the world.

Darby: It is letting out his land to grass farmers a man owning acres does be making his profit.

Taig: A queer thing you to be the way you are, and he to be an upstanding gentleman.

Darby: It is the way I went down; my mother used to be faulting me and I not being the equal of him. Tormenting and picking at me and shouting me on the road. “You thraneen,” she'd say, “you little trifle of a son! You stumbling over the threshold as if in slumber, and Timothy being as swift as a bee!”

Taig: So my own mother used to be going on at myself, and be letting out shrieks and screeches. “What now would your cousin Dermot be saying?” every time there would come a new rent in my rags.

Darby: “Little he'd think of you,” she'd say; “you without body and puny, not fit to lift scraws from off the field, and Timothy bringing in profit to his mother's hand, and earning prizes and rewards.”

Taig: The time it would fail me to follow my book or to say off my A, B, ab, to draw Dermot down on me she would. “Before he was up to your age,” she would lay down, “he was fitted to say off Catechisms and to read newses. You have no more intellect beside him,” she'd say, “than a chicken has its head yet in the shell.”

Darby: “Let you hold up the same as Timothy,” she'd give out, and I to stoop my shoulders the time the sun would prey upon my head. “He that is as straight and as clean as a green rush on the brink of the bog.”

Taig: “It is you will be fit but to blow the bellows,” my mother would say, “the time Dermot will be forging gold.” I let on the book to have gone astray on me at the last. Why would I go crush and bruise myself under a weight of learning, and there being one in the family well able to take my cost and my support whatever way it might go? Dermot that would feel my keep no more than the lake would feel the weight of the duck.

Darby: I seen no use to be going sweating after farmers, striving to plough or to scatter seed, when I never could come anear Timothy in any sort of a way, and he, by what she was saying, able to thrash out a rick of oats in the day. So it fell out I was thrown on the ways of the world, having no skill in any trade, till there came a demand for me going aloft in chimneys, I being as thin as a needle and shrunken with weakness and want of food.

Taig: I got my living for a while by miracle and trafficking in rabbit skins, till a sweep from Limerick bound me to himself one time I was skinned with the winter. Great cruelty he gave me till I ran from him with the brush and the bag, and went foraging around for myself.

Darby: So am I going around by myself. I never had a comrade lad.

Taig: My mother that would hit me a crack if I made free with any of the chaps of the village, saying that would not serve me with Dermot, that had a good top-coat and was brought up to manners and behaviour.

Darby: My own mother that drew down Timothy on me the time she'd catch me going with the lads that had their pleasure out of the world, slashing tops and pebbles, throwing and going on with games.

Taig: I took my own way after, fitting myself for sports and funning, against the time the rich man would stretch out his hand. Going with wild lads and poachers I was, till they left me carrying their snares in under my coat, that I was lodged for three months in the gaol.

Darby: The neighbours had it against me after, I not being friendly when we were small. The most time I am going the road it is a lonesome shadow I cast before me.

Taig: (Looking out of the door.) It is on this day I will be making acquaintance with himself. My mother that sent him a request to come meet me in this town on this day, it being the first of the summer.

Darby: My own mother that did no less, telling me she got word from Timothy he would come meet here with myself. It is certain he will bring me into his house, she having wedded secondly with a labouring man has got a job at Golden Hill in Lancashire. I would not recognise him beyond any other one.

Taig: I would recognise the signs of a big man. I wish I was within in his kitchen. There is a pinch of hunger within in my heart.

Darby: So there is within in myself.

Taig: Is there nothing at all in the bag?

Darby: It is a bit of a salted herring.

Taig: Why wouldn't you use it?

Darby: I would be delicate coming before him and the smell of it to be on me, and all the grand meats will be at his table.

Taig: (Showing a bottle.) The full of a pint I have of porter, that fell from a tinker's car.

Darby: I wonder you would not swallow it down for to keep courage in your mind.

Taig: It is what I am thinking, I to take it fasting, it might put confusion and wildness in my head. I would wish, and I meeting with him, my wits to be of the one clearness with his own. It is not long to be waiting; it is in claret I will be quenching my thirst to-night, or in punch!

Darby: (Looking out.) I am nearly in dread meeting Timothy, fearing I will not be pleasing to him, and I not acquainted with his habits.

Taig: I would not be afeard, and Dermot to come sparkling in, and seven horses in his coach.

Darby: What way can I come before him at all? I would be better pleased you to personate me and to stand up to him in my place.

Taig: Any person to put orders on me, or to bid me change my habits, I'd give no heed! I'd stand up to him in the spite of his teeth!

Darby: If it wasn't for the hearthfires to be slackened with the springtime, and my work to be lessened with the strengthening of the sun, I'd sooner not see him till another moon is passed, or two moons.

Taig: He to bid me read out the news of the world, taking me to be a scholar, I'd give him words that are in no books! I'd give him newses! I'd knock rights out of him or any one I ever seen.

Darby: I could speak only of my trade. The boundaries of the world to be between us, I'm thinking I'd never ask to go cross them at all.

Taig: He to go into Court swearing witnesses and to bring me along with him to face the judges and the whole troop of the police, I'd go bail I'll be no way daunted or scared.

Darby: What way can I keep company with him? I that was partly reared in the workhouse. And he having a star on his hat and a golden apple in his hand. He will maybe be bidding me to scour myself with soapy water all the Sundays and Holy days of the year! I tell you I am getting low hearted. I pray to the Lord to forgive me where I did not go under the schoolmaster's rod!

Taig: I that will shape crampy words the same as any scholar at all! I'll let on to be a master of learning and of Latin!

Darby: Ah, what letting on? It is Timothy will look through me the same as if my eyes were windows, and my thoughts standing as plain as cattle under the risen sun! It is easier letting on to have knowledge than to put on manners and behaviour.

Taig: Ah, what's manners but to refuse no man a share of your bite and to keep back your hand from throwing stones?

Darby: I tell you I'm in shivers! My heart that is shaking like an ivy leaf! My bones that are loosened and slackened in the similitude of a rope of tow! I'd sooner meet with a lion of the wilderness or the wickedest wind of the hills! I thought it never would come to pass. I'd sooner go into the pettiest house, the wildest home and the worst! Look at here now. Let me stop along with yourself. I never let out so much of my heart to any one at all till this day. It's a pity we should be parted!

Taig: Is it to come following after me you would, before the face of Dermot?

Darby: I'd feel no dread and you being at my side.

Taig: Dermot to see me in company with the like of you! I wouldn't for the whole world he should be aware I had ever any traffic with chimneys or with soot. It would not be for his honour you to draw anear him!

Darby: (Indignantly.) No but Timothy that would make objection to yourself! He that would whip the world for manners and behaviour!

Taig: Dermot that is better again. He that would write and dictate to you at the one time!

Darby: What is that beside owning tillage, and to need no education, but to take rents into your hand?

Taig: I would never believe him to own an estate.

Darby: Why wouldn't he own it? “The biggest thing and the grandest,” my mother would say when I would ask her what was he doing.

Taig: Ah, what could be before selling out silks and satins. There is many an estated lord couldn't reach you out a fourpenny bit.

Darby: The grandest house around the seas of Ireland he should have, beautifully made up! You would nearly go astray in it! It wouldn't be known what you could make of it at all! You wouldn't have it walked in a month!

Taig: What is that beside having a range of shops as wide maybe as the street beyond?

Darby: A house would be the capital of the county! One door for the rich, one door for the common! Velvet carpets rolled up, the way there would no dust from the chimney fall upon them. A hundred wouldn't be many standing in a corner of that place! A high bed of feathers, curled hair mattresses. A cover laid on it would be flowery with blossoms of gold!

Taig: Muslin and gauze, cambric and linen! Canton crossbar! Glass windows full up of ribbons as gaudy as the crooked bow in the sky! Sovereigns and shillings in and out as plenty as to riddle rape seed. Sure them that do be selling in shops die leaving millions.

Darby: Your man is not so good as mine in his office or in his billet.

Taig: There is the horn of the coach. Get out now till I'll prepare myself. He might chance to come seeking for me here.

Darby: There's a lather of sweat on myself. That's my tin can of water!

Taig: (Holding can from him.) Get out I tell you! I wouldn't wish him to feel the smell of you on the breeze.

Darby: (Almost crying.) You are a mean savage to go keeping from me my tin can and my rag!

Taig: Go wash yourself at the pump can't you?

Darby: That we may never be within the same four walls again, or come under the lintel of the one door! (He goes out.)

Taig: (Calling after him while he takes a suit of clothes from his bag.) I'm not like yourself! I have good clothes to put on me, what you haven't got! A body-coat my mother made out—she lost up to three shillings on it,—and a hat—and a speckled blue cravat.
  (He hastily throws off his sweep's smock and cap, and puts on
  clothes. As he does he sings:)

  All round my hat I wore a green ribbon,
  All round my hat for a year and a day;
  And if any one asks me the reason I wore it
  I'll say that my true love went over the sea!

  All in my hat I will stick a blue feather
  The same as the birds do be up in the tree;
  And if you would ask me the reason I do it
  I'll tell you my true love is come back to me!

  (He washes his face and wipes it, looking at himself in the tin
  can. He catches sight of a straw hat passing window.)

Who is that? A gentleman? (He draws back.)

   (Darby comes in. He has changed his clothes and wears a straw hat
   and light coat and trousers. He is looking for a necktie which he
   had dropped and picks up. His back is turned to Taig who is standing
   at the other door.)

Taig: (Awed.) It cannot be that you are Dermot Melody?

Darby: My father's name was Melody sure enough, till he lost his life in the year of the black potatoes.

Taig: It is yourself I am come here purposely to meet with.

Darby: You should be my mother's sister's son so, Timothy O'Harragha.

Taig: (Sheepishly.) I am that. I am sorry indeed it failed me to be out before you in the street.

Darby: Oh, I wouldn't be looking for that much from you.

   (They are trying to keep their backs to each other, and to rub
   their faces cleaner.)

Taig: I wouldn't wish to be anyway troublesome to you. I am badly worthy of you.

Darby: It is in dread I am of being troublesome to yourself.

Taig: Oh, it would be hard for you to be that. Nothing you could put on me would be any hardship at all, if it was to walk steel thistles.

Darby: You have a willing heart surely.

Taig: Any little job at all I could do for you———

Darby: All I would ask of you is to give me my nourishment and my bite.

Taig: I will do that. I will be your serving man.

Darby: Ah, you are going too far in that.

Taig: It's my born duty to do that much. I'll bring your dinner before you, if I can be anyway pleasing to you; you that is used to wealthy people.

Darby: Indeed I was often in a house having up to twenty chimneys.

Taig: You are a rare good man, nothing short of it, and you going as you did so high in the world.

Darby: Any person would go high before he would put his hand out through the top of a chimney.

Taig: Having full and plenty of every good thing.

Darby: I saw nothing so plentiful as soot. There is not the equal of it nourishing a garden. It would turn every crop blue, being so good.

Taig: (Weeping.) It is a very unkind thing to go drawing chimneys down on me and soot, and you having all that ever was!

Darby: Little enough I have or ever had.

Taig: To be casting up my trade against me, I being poor and hungry, and you having coins and tokens from all the goldpits of the world.

Darby: I wish I ever handled a coin of gold in my lifetime.

Taig: To speak despisingly, not pitiful. And I thinking the chimney sweeping would be forgot and not reproached to me, if you have handled the fooleries and watches of the world, that you don't know the end of your riches!

Darby: I am maybe getting your meaning wrong, your tongue being a little hard and sharp because you are Englified, but I am without new learnments and so I speak flat.

Taig: You to have the millions of King Solomon, you have no right to be putting reflections on me! I would never behave that way, and housefuls to fall into my hand.

Darby: You are striving to put ridicule on me and to make a fool of me. That is a very unseemly thing to do! I that did not ask to go hide the bag or the brush.

Taig: There you are going on again. Is it to the customers in your shops you will be giving out that it was my lot to go through the world as a sweep?

Darby: Customers and shops! Will you stop your funning? Let you quit mocking and making a sport of me! That is very bad acting behaviour.

Taig: Striving to blacken my face again at the time I had it washed pure white. You surely have a heart of marble.

Darby: What way at all can you be putting such a rascally say out of your mouth? I'll take no more talk from you, I to be twenty-two degrees lower than the Hottentots!

Taig: If you are my full cousin Dermot Melody I'll make you quit talking of soot!

Darby: I'll take no more talk from yourself!

Taig: Have a care now!

Darby: Have a care yourself!

   (Each gives the other a push. They stumble and fall, sitting
   facing one another. Darby's hat falls off.)

Taig: Is it you it is?

Darby: Who else would it be?

Taig: What call had you letting on to be Dermot Melody?

Darby: What letting on? Dermot is my full name, but Darby is the name I am called.

Taig: Are you a man owning riches and shops and merchandise?

Darby: I am not, or anything of the sort.

Taig: Have you teems of money in the bank?

Darby: If I had would I be sitting on this floor?

Taig: You thief you!

Darby: Thief yourself! Turn around now till I will measure your features and your face. Yourself is it! Is it personating my cousin Timothy you are?

Taig: I am personating no one but myself.

Darby: You letting on to be an estated magistrate and my own cousin and such a great generation of a man. And you not owning so much as a rood of ridges!

Taig: Covering yourself with choice clothing for to deceive me and to lead me astray!

Darby: Putting on your head a fine glossy hat and I thinking you to have come with the spring-tide, the way you had luck through your life!

Taig: Letting on to be Dermot Melody! You that are but the cull and the weakling of a race! It is a queer game you played on me and a crooked game. I never would have brought my legs so far to meet with the sooty likes of you!

Darby: Letting on to be my poor Timothy O'Harragha!

Taig: I never was called but Taig. Timothy was a sort of a Holy day name.

Darby: Where now are our two cousins? Or is it that the both of us are cracked?

Taig: It is, or our mothers before us.

Darby: My mother was a McGarrity woman from Loughrea. It is Mary was her Christened name.

Taig: So was my own mother of the McGarritys. It is sisters they were sure enough.

Darby: That makes us out to be full cousins in the heel.

Taig: You no better than myself! And the prayers I used to be saying for you, and you but a sketch and an excuse of a man!

Darby: Ah, I am thinking people put more in their prayers than was ever put in them by God.

Taig: Our mothers picturing us to one another as if we were the best in the world.

Darby: Lies I suppose they were drawing down, for to startle us into good behaviour.

Taig: Wouldn't you say now mothers to be a terror?

Darby: And we nothing at all after but two chimney sweepers and two harmless drifty lads.

Taig: Where is the great quality dinner yourself was to give me, having seven sorts of dressed meat? Pullets and bacon I was looking for, and to fall on an easy life.

Darby: Gone like the clouds of the winter's fog. We rose out of it the same as we went in.

Taig: We have nothing to do but to starve with the hunger, and you being as bare as myself.

Darby: We are in a bad shift surely. We must perish with the want of support. It is one of the tricks of the world does be played upon the children of Adam.

Taig: All we have to do is to crawl to the poorhouse gate. Or to go dig a pit in the graveyard, as it is short till we'll be stretched there with the want of food.

Darby: Food is it? There is nothing at this time against me eating my bit of a herring.

   (Seizes it and takes a bite.)

Taig: Give me a divide of it.

Darby: Give me a drop of your own porter so, is in the bottle. There need be no dread on you now, of you being no match for your grand man.

Taig: That is so. (Drinks.) I'll strive no more to fit myself for high quality relations. I am free from patterns of high up cousins from this out. I'll be a pattern to myself.

Darby: I am well content being free of you, the way you were pictured to be. I declare to my goodness, the name of you put terror on me through the whole of my lifetime, and your image to be clogging and checking me on every side.

Taig: To be thinking of you being in the world was a holy terror to myself. I give you my word you came through my sleep the same as a scarecrow or a dragon.

Darby: It is great things I will be doing from this out, we two having nothing to cast up against one another. To be quit of Timothy the bogie and to get Taig for a comrade, I'm as proud as the Crown of France!

Taig: I'm in dread of neither bumble or bagman or bugaboo! I will regulate things from myself from this out.

Darby: There to be fineness of living in the world, why wouldn't I make it out for myself?

Taig: It is to the harbours of America we will work our way across the wideness of the sea. It is well able we should be to go mounting up aloft in ropes. Come on Darby out of this!

Darby: There is magic and mastery come into me! This day has put wings to my heart!

Taig: Be easy now. We are maybe not clear of the chimneys yet.

Darby: What signifies chimneys? We'll go up in them till we'll take a view of the Seven Stars! It is out beyond the hills of Burren I will cast my eye, till I'll see the three gates of Heaven!

Taig: It's like enough, luck will flow to you. The way most people fail is in not keeping up the heart. Faith, it's well you have myself to mind you. Gather up now your brush and your bag.

   (They go to the door holding each other's hands and singing:
   “All in my hat I will cock a blue feather,” etc.)




A message sent to America from Dublin that our Theatre had been “driven out with hisses”; an answering message from New York that the Playboy, the cause of battle, was now “as dead as a doornail,” set me musing with renewed delight on our incorrigible genius for myth-making, the faculty that makes our traditional history a perpetual joy, because it is, like the Sidhe, an eternal Shape-changer.

At Philadelphia, the city of trees, where in spite of a day in the police court and before a judge, and the arrest of our players at the suit not of a Puritan but a publican, and the throwing of currant cake with intent to injure, I received very great personal kindness, a story of his childhood told by my host gave me a fable on which to hang my musings; and the Dublin enthusiast and the American enthusiast who interchanged so many compliments and made so brave a show to one another, became Dermot and Timothy, “two harmless drifty lads,” the Bogie Men of my little play. They were to have been vagrants, tatterdemalions, but I needed some dress the change of which would change their whole appearance in a moment, and there came to mind the chimney sweepers of my childhood.

They used to come trotting the five miles from Loughrea, little fellows with blue eyes shining out from soot-black faces, wearing little soot-coloured smocks. Our old doctor told us he had gone to see one of them who was sick, and had found him lying in a box, with soot up to his chin as bedding and blanket.

Not many years ago a decent looking man came to my door, with I forget what request. He told me he had heard of ghosts and fairies, but had never met with anything worse than himself, but that he had had one great fright in his lifetime. Its cause had been the squealing and outcry made by two rats caught in one trap, that had come clattering down a flight of steps one time when he was a little lad, and had come sweeping chimneys to Roxborough.



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