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The Flitting of the Old Folks by Mrs. Francis Blundell

 

"Maggie! Maggie! Glory be to goodness! where in the world has that child gone off with herself to? Maggie! Sure I've been roarin' an' bawlin' for ye this half-hour. Run up this minute to Mr. Brophy's--they're afther gettin' a letther from America, an' they can't get any one to read it for them, the cratur's. Hurry now, that's a good little girl; I'm goin' up myself along wid ye. Poor Mrs. Brophy'll be nearly out of her mind."

Mrs. Kinsella caught up her baby as she spoke, gave a hasty look round to make sure that Micky and Nanny were not crawling into the fire, enjoined Mary, her "second eldest" little girl, to "have an eye to them" during her absence, and, hustling her firstborn before her, hastily left the cabin.

"What is it at all?" asked Peggy Murphy, her next-door neighbour, thrusting her head over the half-door. "What in the world has happened? Is it goin' up to Brophys' ye are? I hope herself's not sick or anything."

"Not at all; but Dan looked in on his way from town, an' says he, 'I've a letther in my pocket that the postmisthress is afther givin' me, an' it's from America,' he says, 'but I'm sure I couldn't tell ye who wrote it,' says he. 'I wisht,' he says, 'ye'd send up wan o' yer little girls to read it to us,' says he, 'for neither herself nor me is much hand at makin' out writin'.' An' here I'm afther sarchin' high an' low for Maggie, an' where was she? Up in a tree, if ye plaze. Me heart's scalded with that child. She'll break her neck on me before she's done."

Maggie jerked her flaxen locks backwards with a slightly defiant air, and inquired of her parent if she was comin' on out o' that. Mrs. Kinsella in return curtly desired her to be off with herself, an' not be standin' there givin' her impidence, an' Mrs. Brophy maybe killin' herself wonderin' what could be in the letther at all.

Thus adjured, Maggie led the way up a steep and stony path, followed by her mother, Mrs. Murphy, and sundry other of the neighbours, all agog with excitement and curiosity.

Half-way up the rocky hillside they came upon the Brophys' abode, a one-storied cabin, with a cabbage garden, a potato plot, and a scanty patch of wheat climbing up the mountain at the rear.

Dan himself stood in the doorway, eagerly on the lookout for them; while a querulous voice from within warned them that "herself" had reached the limit of her patience.

Entering they descried her--a tiny old woman, bent almost double with age and rheumatism, leaning forward in her elbow-chair with the letter on her knee.

Maggie was hustled to the front and the packet placed in her hand. She turned it over and over, and finally broke the seal.

"It's from America," she said.

"Bedad, alanna, I knew that before," returned old Dan, who was bending over her, his weather-beaten face betraying the utmost mystification.

"Sure all of us knew that," murmured the bystanders.

"Well, give the child time to see what's in it," urged Mrs. Kinsella. "Father Taylor himself couldn't tell yez what's in a letther before he had it opened."

"Who's it from, Maggie asthore? Tell us that much," cried Mrs. Brophy with shrill eagerness.

Maggie drew the letter from the envelope and slowly unfolded it. An enclosure fell out. Several hands were outstretched to catch it, and Mrs. Kinsella succeeded.

"What in the name o' goodness is this?" she asked. "There's print on this. I hope to heaven it's not a summons, or a notice to quit, or anything that way."

"Not at all, not at all," cried Peggy Murphy, "that's an ordher for money. I knew the looks of it the minute I set eyes on it--the very same as wan that Mrs. O'More sent me from Dublin, the price of a pair o' chickens she sent for, afther she went up. Bedad, you're in luck, Dan. How much is it for, now, Maggie?"

"Ah! good gracious! don't be axin' the child them things. Sure how in the world could she tell, an' it afther bein' written in America?--God bless us! let her have a look at the letther anyhow."

"'My dear uncle and aunt,'" began Maggie, slowly spelling out.

[Illustration: THE FLITTING OF THE OLD FOLKS "My dear Uncle and Aunt," began Maggie]

Mrs. Brophy uttered a shrill scream, and clapped her hands together. "It's from Larry! Lord bless an' save us! it's Larry himself, him that I thought in his grave this fifteen year! God bless us, it's dramin' I am--it can't be true! Dan, d'ye hear that? Good gracious, what's the man thinkin' of, stan'in' there, lookin' about him, the same as if he never heard a thing at all. Dan" (with an impatient tug at his sleeve), "d'ye hear what I'm tellin' you? Larry isn't dead at all, an' he's afther writin' to us from America."

"Well, to be sure," cried Mrs. Kinsella. "Your sister's son, wasn't he, ma'am? La'rence Kearney. A fine young fellow he was, too. He went an' listed on yez, didn't he?"

"Aye, an' she was near breakin' her heart when he done it," chimed in Peggy Murphy; "sure, I remember it well."

Several other bystanders remembered it too, and expressed their sympathy by divers nods and groans; old Dan at last impatiently throwing out his hands for silence.

"Whisht! whisht! we can't be sure whether himself's in it at all yet. Let the poor little girl be gettin' on wid the letther, can't yez? Sure maybe it isn't Larry at all."

"Listen to the man, an' him the only nephew that ever we had," began "herself" shrilly; but Maggie's childish pipe, proceeding with the reading, drowned the rest of her remonstrance.

"'I hope you are quite well, as this leaves me at present. You will be very much astonished to get this letter, but when we meet, as I trust we soon shall, I hope to have the pleasure of explainin' to you all that has befell me since I left yous an' my happy home to join her Majesty's corpse!'"

"What's that?" cried Dan in alarm. "Corpse! Didn't I tell yez he was dead?"

"Sure how could he be dead," put in Mrs. Brophy, "when it was himself that wrote the letther? There isn't anythin' about a corpse in it, Maggie asthore, is there?"

"'C-o-r-p-s,' spelled out Maggie, "corpse; yes, there it is, as plain as print."

"Sure he manes 'rig'ment,' "shouted out some well-informed person from the background. "'Corpse'--that's what they do be callin' the army."

"Oh, that indeed?" resumed Dan, much relieved. "Go on, Maggie."

"'I am now, however, at the end of my rovin's,'" read the child, "'an' you'll be glad to hear that I am just afther gettin' married to a very nice young lady, with a good bit o' money of her own. I have also contrived to save a tol'rable sum, an' am now lookin' forward to a life of contentment an' prosperity in the company of my bride.'"

"That's Larry," exclaimed Mrs. Brophy with conviction. "That's himself--the very turn of him. He always had that fashion, ye know, of pickin' out them grand words. I could tell 'twas him the very minit she began, God bless him."

"'My fond memory, however, turns to them that in the days of my childhood was the same as a father an' a mother to me. I made sure that yous must both be under the daisy-quilt, an' me first thought was to send some money to the reverend gentleman, whoever he may be, that's parish priest in Clonkeen now, an' ax him to put up a rale handsome monument over your remains; but by the greatest good fortune I came across poor Bill Kinsella not long sence, an' he tould me yous were to the fore, an' not a sign o' dyin' on yous yet.'"

"Look at that now," cried Mrs. Kinsella, with shrill glee; "sure that's me own first cousin's son that went over beyant a couple of years ago. Well, now to think--"

"Ah, for goodness' sake, let's hear the end of the letther," cried Dan and his wife together, both violently excited.

"'Me an' me wife both feels,' went on Maggie, 'that we couldn't rest happy unless we made sure that yous ended your days in peace and comfort. This is a big house and a comfortable place, with room an' to spare for the two of yous, and you'll get the warmest of welcomes from nephew and niece. So I am sendin' you the price of your journey, with maybe a few dollars over, for fear you should come short, an' I hope you'll come out by the next boat, for there isn't much time to spare, an' you'll be gettin' too old for travellin'. I will say no more this time, my dear uncle and aunt, but cead mille failthe from your affectionate La'rence Kearney."

"Sure it isn't across the say he wants us to go," cried Dan in dismay; "is it to America?"

"God bless him!" exclaimed the wife, with fervour; "it's him that always had the good heart. To think of him plannin' an' contrivin' everythin' that way, even to the monyement."

"I wonder," said Dan regretfully, "what sort of a monyement at all he'd have put over us? 'Pon me word it 'ud have looked elegant beyant."

"Would ye have goold letthers on it, ma'am?" put in Peggy Murphy admiringly. "I seen wan at Kilpedder wan time that I went up when a cousin o' me own was buried, an' it was the loveliest ye ever seen. There was goold letthers, an' a crass on the top, an' at the four corners of it there was a kind of an ornamentation the same as a little skull--'pon me word, the natest thing ye could see! No bigger nor me fist, ye know; but all set out elegant with little weeshy-dawshy teeth, all as perfect as ye could imagine. It was some rale grand ould gentleman that was afther puttin' it up for his wife. I wondher if yez 'ud have had wan made anything that shape."

Dan looked pensive, and rubbed his hands slowly together, tantalised perhaps by the magnificence of the vision; but "herself" shook her head with a proud little smile.

"There's no knowin' what we'd have had," she observed. "Larry said he'd have axed Father Taylor to choose us the best, an' I b'lieve his reverence has very good taste."

"'Deed an' he has, ma'am. But will yez be goin' off wid yourselves to America out o' this?"

"Aye will we," responded Mrs. Brophy, with spirit. "Bedad, if Dan an' me is ever to see the world it's time we started."

"It's very far off," said poor old Dan nervously; "it's a terrible long way to be goin', alanna. If it wasn't for Larry expectin' us over beyant--"

"What would ye do, then?" interrupted his energetic little wife fiercely. "Stop at home, perishin' wid the cold an' hunger, an' the rain droppin' down on us while we're atin' our bit o' dinner; me that bad wid the rheumatiz I can hardly move hand or fut, an' yourself taken wid them wakenesses so that it's all ye can do to lift the potaties."

"Dear knows, it's himself that ought to leppin' mad wid j'y," cried one of the neighbours. "To get such a chance! Isn't it in the greatest good luck ye are, Dan, to be goin' off to that beautiful place, where ye'll be livin' in the heighth o' comfort an' need never do another hand's turn for yourselves? Troth, I wish it was me that had the offer of it."

Many murmurs of approval greeted this sally; every one being convinced that Dan was indeed in luck's way, while his wife wrathfully opined that he didn't know when he was well off.

Poor old Dan hastened to assure them that he was "over-j'yed."

"I suppose," he added, looking round deprecatingly, "they'll tell me down at the railway station the way we'll have to go; or maybe Father Taylor 'ud know. The say is miles an' miles away--I question if they'd give us a ticket for the say down beyant at Clonkeen."

"Sure, yez'll have to go to Dublin first," interposed the well-informed person who had before volunteered useful explanations.

"Dublin!" said Dan, sitting down on the edge of his favourite little "creepy" stool. "Well, well, to think o' that! I never thought to be goin' to Dublin, an' I suppose America is twicet as far."

"Aye, an' ten times as far," cried Peggy Murphy.

Dan looked appealingly round as though seeking contradiction, but could not summon up enough courage to speak. He sat still, rubbing his hands, and smiling a rather vacant smile; and by-and-by, having exhausted their queries and conjectures, the visitors left the cabin, and the old couple were alone.

They stared at each other for a moment or two in silence, Mary Brophy fingering the letter which she could not read.

"That's grand news?" she remarked presently, with a querulous interrogative note in her voice.

"Grand entirely," repeated her husband submissively, rubbing the patched knees of his corduroy trousers for a change.

"We'll have to be gettin' ready to be off soon, I suppose?" pursued Mary, still in a tone of vexed inquiry.

"Aye," said Dan, continuing to rub his knees.

"Ye ought to be out o' yer wits wid delight," asserted Mrs. Brophy angrily.

"So I am," said Dan, with a ghastly attempt at cheerfulness.

"Ah, go 'long out o' that!" cried Mary. "Ye have me moithered, sittin' there starin' the two eyes out o' yer head. Go out an' give the hens a bit to ate."

"Sure we haven't had our own suppers yet," returned Dan, slowly rising; "time enough to give the cratur's what's left."

"Listen to the man! 'Pon me word, ye'd never desarve a bit o' good look, Dan Brophy, ye've that little sense. What call have we to go pinchin' an' scrapin' now, will ye tell me? Us that's goin' to spend the rest of our days in peace an' comfort. Sure, Larry'll let us want for nothin' while we live."

"Aye, indeed," returned her husband; "I was forgettin' that."

He went out obediently, and presently his voice was heard dolorously "chuck-chucking" to the hens. When he re-entered he sat down on the stool again, with the same puzzled air which had formerly irritated his wife.

"I wonder," he said, "how in the world we'll be managin'. Will I go down to the station beyant, an' give them that money ordher, an' tell them Larry bid them give us tickets to America for it, or will I have to take it to the post-office first? Mrs. Murphy said it was a post-office ordher, but sure they wouldn't be givin' us tickets for America at the post-office."

"Ah, what a gom ye are!" said Mary. It was her favourite and wholly untranslatable term of opprobrium.

"Afther that," as Dan invariably said, "there was no use in talkin' to Mary." He suspected that on this occasion she was feeling a little puzzled herself, but wisely resolved to postpone the discussion till she should be in a better humour.

Next morning, when the old man rose and went out of the house, as usual, to fetch a pailful of water from the stream which ran at the foot of the hill, he cast lingering glances about him. It would be a queer thing, he thought, to look out in the morning on any other view than this familiar one, which had greeted his waking eyes in his far away childhood, and on which he had expected to look his last only when the day came whereon he should close them for ever. On the other side of the rugged brown shoulder of that hill was the little chapel, under the shadow of which he had hoped one day to be laid to rest. Pausing, pail in hand, he began to wonder to himself where he would have had the monument which, if he and Mary had already departed, was, by Larry's request, to have surmounted their remains. There was an empty space to the right of the gate--it would have looked well there--real handsome, Dan opined. With his mind full of this thought he returned to Mary, and immediately imparted it to her.

"Alanna, we wouldn't have known ourselves, we'd have been so grand," he added. "Goold letthers, no less. I don't know that I'd altogether fancy them little skulls, though. They would have been altogether too mournful. I'd sooner have R.I.P. at all the corners--wouldn't you?"

"Maybe I would an' maybe I wouldn't," said Mary. "We needn't be botherin' our heads about it. Larry'll be apt to be puttin' up a tombstone over us when we do go."

"Sure what good will that do us over there where nobody knows us?" murmured Dan discontentedly. "If it was here where all the neighbours 'ud be lookin' at it, it 'ud be somethin'-like. But what signifies what kind of an ould gully-hole they throw us into over beyant--there'll be nobody to pass a remark about us, or to put up a prayer for us afther we're gone, only Larry and his wife; an' I question if she's the lady to be throublin' her head over the like of us."

Mrs. Brophy was quite taken aback at this harangue, but soon recovered herself sufficiently to rate Dan as soundly as she considered he deserved; then, with many muttered comments on his ingratitude, she proceeded to crawl over to the hearth to prepare breakfast.

"Woman alive!" ejaculated Dan presently, "sure it's not tay ye're wettin' this mornin', an' only a sign of it left in the bag. Ye'll be callin' out for yer cup on Sunday, an' there'll not be a grain left for ye."

"Good gracious, won't the two of us be out of it before Sunday?" returned Mary tartly. "Upon me word, a body 'ud lose patience wid ye altogether. I'm sick an' tired tellin' ye that we've no call to be savin' up the way we used to be doin'. Sit down there, an' don't saucer yer tay, but drink it like a Christian out o' the cup. An' for goodness' sake, Dan, don't be blowin' it that way. I declare I'll be ashamed of me life if that's the way ye're goin' to go on forenenst Mrs. Larry."

"Would ye have me scald the throat out o' meself?" retorted Dan indignantly. "I wish to goodness that letther o' Larry's was at the bottom of the say. Ye're that contrairy sence, I dunno whatever to do wid ye. Bedad, if that's the way wid ye I'll not stir a fut out o' this. Mind that!"

Mrs. Brophy, though much incensed, nevertheless deemed it prudent to make no reply; and presently Dan, pushing back his stool, got up and went out. Mary sat cogitating for some minutes alone; her reflections were not altogether of the pleasantest order, and she was relieved when, by-and-by, Mrs. Kinsella's voice hailed her from the doorway.

"How's yourself this morning?" inquired the visitor pleasantly. "Did you think it was dramin' ye were when ye woke up? I suppose the two o' yez'll soon be out o' this now. I was thinkin'"--leaning her arms affably on the half-door--"any ould things, ye know, that wouldn't be worth yer while to bring along wid yous 'ud come in very handy for me down below. Of course I wouldn't name it if ye were likely to be takin' everythin' wid ye; but goin' all that way, an' lavin' nobody afther ye--it's a terrible long fam'ly I have altogether, ma'am--I declare I have the work of the world wid them. Terence--nothin' 'ud serve him but to go makin' a drum out o' the on'y pot we have, an' he's afther knocking a great big hole in it. So if ye weren't goin' to take your big ould pot away wid ye, ma'am, I thought I'd just mention it."

Mrs. Brophy's withered little face flushed.

"It's yerself that 'ud be welcome, I'm sure," she replied stiffly, "but that same pot Dan an' me bought when we got married, an' I don't think I could have the heart to part wid it."

"Ah, that indeed, ma'am? Well, of course, when ye have a fancy for it that way, it's best for ye to take it wid ye. But I question if Mrs. Larry 'ud like the looks of it comin' into her grand kitchen. Sure Bill tould me, that time he came back from America, there wasn't such a thing as a pot to be seen over there at all. But plaze yerself, ma'am, of coorse."

Mrs. Brophy looked startled and perturbed.

"Not such a thing as a pot in it," she repeated. "God bless us! it must be a quare place. Well, Mrs. Kinsella, ma'am, if I do lave the pot behind I'll make sure that yourself has it."

"Thank ye, ma'am," responded Mrs. Kinsella, with alacrity. "Any ould thing at all that ye wouldn't be wantin' 'ud come in handy for me. Ye wouldn't be takin' that ould chair, now, or the dresser; that 'ud be altogether too big an' too heavy to put in a boat, but I'd be thankful for it at my place."

Mary looked round at her little household gods with a sudden pang; then she glanced rather sharply back at Mrs. Kinsella.

"There's time enough to be thinkin' o' them things," she observed. "Himself an' me hasn't made up our minds at all when we're goin', or what we'll be doin' wid our bits o' things."

"Well, I must be off wid meself anyhow," returned the visitor, easily changing the subject. "Ye'll be havin' his reverence in wid yez some time this mornin'. I'm afther meetin' him goin' up the road to poor Pat Daly's, an' when I told him the news he near broke his heart laughin' at the notion of the two o' yez goin' off travellin' at this time o' day. 'But I'm sorry, too,' he says, 'I'm very sorry,' he says. 'Upon my word,' says he, 'the place won't know itself without poor Dan an' Mary. An' so they're goin' to live over there,' says he, 'or rather to die over there,' says he, 'an' there'll be some strange priest lookin' afther them at the last,' he says. 'Well, well, I always thought it 'ud be me that 'ud have the buryin' o' Dan an' Mary.'--An' off wid him then up the hill to Dalys', but he'll be apt to be lookin' in on his way back."

"He will, to be sure," agreed Mary, in rather doleful tones.

When Mrs. Kinsella had departed she sat cowering over the fire without heeding her unfinished cup of tea. The priest's words just quoted had touched her in a vulnerable point. True for his reverence. It wasn't living much longer they'd be over there, and when they came to die it would be a lonesome sort of thing to have a strange priest coming to see them instead of their own Father Taylor, who had been their friend, guide, and adviser for more than forty years! Mrs. Brophy's heart misgave her; his reverence would be apt to think bad of their going off that way, and him so good to them. Then Mrs. Kinsella's remarks rankled in her memory--"an ould pot" that Mrs. Larry would despise in her elegant kitchen; the cool scrutiny with which she had surveyed all poor Mary's treasured belongings was hard to be borne. The dresser; like enough there would not be room for the dresser in the boat--Mary had no notion as to the size of the vessel that was to convey her and her belongings to America--and what about the bed then? The bed, a valuable heirloom which had stood in its own particular corner of the cabin for nearly a century, which had been Mary's mother's bed, the pride and joy of Mary's heart, and the envy of the neighbours. What in the world was to be done with this priceless treasure? Good-natured as she was she felt that she could not bring herself to allow it to become the property of Mrs. Kinsella or any of the neighbours. Who would respect it as she did? At the bare thought of heedless "gossoons" or "slips of girls" tumbling in and out of the receptacle which she herself had always approached so reverently, Mary shivered.

"Cock them up, indeed!" she murmured wrathfully.

Then an idea struck her, an idea which became a fixed resolution when presently Father Taylor's kindly face nodded at her over the half-door. She would offer his reverence the bed; it would be honoured by such a rise in the world as a transfer to the priest's house; and at the same time Mary felt that this precious legacy would in some measure repay her good pastor for his long and affectionate care. She had hardly patience to listen to Father Taylor's greeting, or to answer his good-natured rallying queries anent their unexpected good fortune. When she did speak it was rather in a tone of lamentation than of rejoicing:--

"Aye, indeed, yer reverence, it's what we nayther of us looked for, an' it's a terrible change altogether. I'm wondering what in the world I'll do wid my bits o' things--my little sticks o' furniture, ye know, sir. Biddy Kinsella was up here a little while ago lookin' out for me pot--it's an elegant pot, an' I'm loth to part with it--but she says Bill tould her there's no such thing as a pot to be seen out there. So I'll have to lave it with her. But the bed, Father Taylor, it's the bed that's throublin' me the most. It's a beautiful bed, your reverence."

The priest glanced towards that valuable article of furniture, and responded heartily and admiringly:--

"It is, indeed, a wonderful bed."

"Sure there isn't its like in the place," resumed Mary. "It was me mother's bed, so it was--she looked very well when she was laid out on it," she added thoughtfully. "Very well, indeed, she looked! I always thought that Dan an' meself 'ud be waked in that bed, too. Well, well, the Lord knows best, doesn't he, yer reverence? But I'd think very bad of lettin' that bed out o' this to go anywhere on'y to yer reverence's house."

"Bless me!" cried Father Taylor, unable to restrain a surprised laugh; but he quickly composed his features.

"Aye, indeed, yer reverence, I'd be proud if ye'd let me make ye a present of it," said poor old Mary, trying to straighten her little bent back, and peering at him with anxious eyes. "Sure it's altogether too proud Dan an' meself 'ud be, an' ye wouldn't believe the beautiful nights' rests we do be gettin' out o' that bed."

"I'm quite sure you do," responded the priest warmly; "but upon my word, Mary, do you know I'm afraid the Bishop mightn't like it."

Mrs. Brophy was appalled at the magnitude of the idea. Father Taylor continued in a very solemn voice, but with a twinkle in his eye:--

"You see, Mary, we poor priests are not allowed luxuries, and if his lordship were to arrive unexpectedly and walk into my room and see that grand bed in the corner he might think it very queer."

"Would he now?" said Mary, in awestruck tones.

"You wouldn't like to get me into trouble, Mary, I'm sure," pursued Father Taylor. "The Bishop might think I was getting beyond myself altogether."

Mrs. Brophy heaved a deep sigh; she was depressed, but magnanimous. It would ill become her, she observed, to be gettin' his reverence into trouble, and who'd think his lordship was that wicked? Holy man! She would say no more; and Father Taylor was devoutly thankful for her forbearance. He would have done anything rather than hurt her feelings, but the mere sight of that ancient, venerable, and much-begrimed four-poster made him shudder; while he scarcely ventured to contemplate the attitude likely to be assumed by his housekeeper--of whom he stood in some little awe--if the question were mooted of adding this piece of furniture to her well-polished and carefully-dusted stock.

Wishing to change the subject, he remarked that Mary's beautiful cup of tea had been scarcely tasted. "Why, I thought every drop was precious," he added, laughing; "but I suppose you will not be counting the grains now as you used to do."

"I don't seem to fancy it this mornin' the way I used to do sometimes," responded Mrs. Brophy plaintively.

"Ah," said the priest, half-sadly, "you will have plenty of everything over there, Mary, but I doubt if you will relish anything as much as what you and Dan used to buy out of the price of your chickens. Nothing is so sweet as what we earn for ourselves, woman dear. I fancy the potatoes grown in your little bit of ground, and boiled in your own black pot, taste sweeter, somehow, than all the fine dinners that Mrs. Larry will be giving you."

"Thrue for ye, yer reverence," put in Dan, suddenly appearing in the doorway. "'Pon me word, I wish that ould letther an' all that was in it had stopped where it was, before it came upsettin' us that way. I'd sooner stop where I am, so I would--I would so--there now ye have it!" turning defiantly to his wife. "Sure it'll be the death of the two of us lavin' the ould place, an' thravellin' off across the say among strangers. An' what good will it do us, as I do be sayin' to herself here, for Larry to be puttin' up a monyement for us over beyant there, where there's ne'er a one at all that knows us?"

"To be sure, I was forgetting the monument," said Father Taylor, laughing again. "I was to have the choosing of it, too, wasn't I? Let me look at the letter again, Mary. Yes, here it is. 'The reverend gentleman, whoever he is, that's parish priest in Clonkeen now'--It's the very same reverend gentleman that used to give Master Larry many a good box on the ear long ago when he was a little rascally lad; but I suppose he thought I was dead and buried by this time--he wants to have us all underground. Well, well, it's a pity I'm not to have the choosing of that monument--I'd have picked out the finest that money could buy."

He intended this as a joke, and Dan and Mary uttered a somewhat melancholy, but complimentary laugh; then they looked at each other wistfully, as though regretting that they were not in a position to enable their pastor to gratify his artistic tastes.

Dan presently confided his troubles and difficulties anent the changing of the order, and was desired by the priest to call in the afternoon, when he would himself go with him to the post-office. Then Father Taylor withdrew, feeling a little sad at the thought of losing two such old parishioners, and a little impatient with the over-affectionate nephew, who had so late in the day insisted on their uprootal.

"How much more sensible it would have been," he said to himself, "how much more truly kind, if Larry, instead of transplanting the poor old couple in their old age, had sent them a small sum of money every month to enable them to end their days in comfort at home." But there was apparently nothing for it now but to take what steps he could to help them over the difficulties of their flitting.

About five o'clock Dan duly made his appearance, wearing a much more jubilant aspect than when his pastor had taken leave of him. With a comical and somewhat sheepish grin he produced the "ordher" in a crumpled condition from his tattered pocket, and handed it over to the priest, remarking, as he did so, that "it was a quare thing to think what a power o' money did be in a little or'nary thing like that."

"Yes, indeed," said Father Taylor, with a sigh, "that little bit of paper will carry you and Mary all the way over the sea, and across a State as big as Ireland."

"Would it now?" inquired Dan, eyeing it curiously. "Well now, to tell you the truth, yer reverence, herself an' me has been havin' a bit of a chat. She thinks bad, the cratur', of lavin' the bed, an' the ould pot, an' all our little sticks o' things behind, ye know, sir, an' I do be thinkin' I'd never get my health at all out of ould Ireland; an' any way the two of us is too ould to be thravellin' off that way. An' so herself says to me--she says:--'Dan,' says she, 'I think the best way would be for ye to step down to his reverence's,' says she, 'an' give him the ordher,' she says, 'an' ax him,' says she, 'if he'll just write a line to poor Larry, an' let him know that we haven't the heart nor the strength to be lavin' our own little place. An' bid him,' says she, "ax Larry if it 'ud be all the same to him if his reverence was to keep the money for us agin we want it.'"

"To be sure, to be sure," cried Father Taylor, delighted. "You show your good sense, Dan, and so does Mary. I'll just go with you now, and change the order; and I'll let Larry know that I'll keep the money for you, and pay it out little by little as long as it lasts."

"Not at all, not at all," interrupted Dan, hastily and indignantly. "Bedad, it isn't that we want yer reverence to do for us. Sure the raison I'm afther givin' ye the ordher is for you to keep it safe, the way we'll have it for the monyement."