VOYAGE TO THE MOON.
People may have heard of the renowned adventures of
Daniel O'Rourke, but how few are there who know that
the cause of all his perils, above and below, was neither
more nor less than his having slept under the walls of the
"I am often axed to tell it, sir," said he, "so that this is
not the first time. The master's son, you see, had come
from beyond foreign parts in France and Spain, as young
gentlemen used to go, before Buonaparte or any such was
heard of; and, sure enough, there was a dinner given to all
the people on the ground, gentle and simple, high and low,
rich and poor. The ould gentlemen were the gentlemen
after all, saving your honour's presence. They'd swear at
a body a little, to be sure, and maybe give one a cut of a
whip now and then, but we were no losers by it in the
end;—and they were so easy and civil, and kept such
rattling houses, and thousands of welcomes; and there was
no grinding for rent, and few agents; and there was hardly
a tenant on the estate that did not taste of his landlord's
bounty often and often in the year;—but now it's another
thing; no matter for that, sir, for I'd better be telling you
"Well, we had everything of the best, and plenty of it;
and we ate, and we drank, and we danced, and the young
master, by the same token, danced with Peggy Barry from
Bothereen—a lovely young couple they were, though they
are both long enough now. To make a long story short, I
got, as a body may say, the same thing as tipsy almost, for
I can't remember ever at all, no ways, how I left the place;
only I did leave it, that's certain. Well, I thought, for all
that, in myself, I'd just step to Molly Cronohan's, the fairy
woman, to speak a word about the bracket heifer that was
bewitched; and so as I was crossing the stepping stones at
the ford of Ballyashenogh, and was looking up at the stars,
and blessing myself—for why? it was Lady-day—I missed
my foot, and souse I fell into the water. 'Death alive!'
thought I, 'I'll be drowned now!' However, I began
swimming, swimming, swimming away for the dear life,
till at last I got ashore, somehow or other, but never the
one of me can tell how, upon a dissolute island.
"I wandered and wandered about there, without knowing
where I wandered, until at last I got into a big bog.
The moon was shining as bright as day, or your fair lady's
eyes, sir (with your pardon for mentioning her), and I
looked east and west, and north and south, and every way,
and nothing did I see but bog, bog, bog. I could never find
out how I got into it, and my heart grew cold with fear, for
sure and certain I was that it would be my barrin place.
So I sat down upon a stone which, as good luck would have
it, was close by me, and I began to scratch my head and sing
the Ullagon, when all of a sudden the moon grew black,
and I looked up, and saw something for all the world as if
it was moving down between me and it, and I could not
tell what it was. Down it came with a pounce, and looked
at me full in the face. And what was it but an eagle—as
fine a one as ever flew from the kingdom of Kerry. So
he looked at me in the face, and says he to me, 'Daniel
O'Rourke,' says he, 'how do you do?' 'Very well, I thank
you, sir,' says I; 'I hope you're well,' wondering out of my
senses all the time how an eagle came to speak like a Christian.
'What brings you here, Dan?' says he. 'Nothing
at all, sir,' says I; 'only I wish I was safe home again.'
'Is it out of the island you want to go, Dan?' says he.
''Tis, sir,' says I; so I up and told him how I had taken a
drop too much, and fell into the water; how I swam to the
island; and how I got into the bog and did not know my
way out of it. 'Dan,' says he, after a minute's thought,
'though it is very improper for you to get drunk on Lady-day,
yet, as you are a decent sober man, who tends mass
well, and never flings stones at me or mine, nor cries out
after us in the fields—my life for yours,' says he; 'so get
up on my back, and grip me well for fear you'd fall off, and
I'll fly you out of the bog.' 'I am afraid,' says I, 'your
honour's making game of me; for who ever heard of riding
a-horseback on an eagle before?' ''Pon the honour of a
gentleman,' says he, putting his right foot on his breast, 'I
am quite in earnest; and so, now, either take my offer or
starve in the bog; besides, I see that your weight is sinking
"It was true enough as he said, for I found the stone
every minute going from under me. I had no choice; so
thinks I to myself, faint heart never won fair lady, and this
is fair persuadance. 'I thank your honour,' says I, 'for the
load of your civility, and I'll take your kind offer.' I therefore
mounted upon the back of the eagle, and held him tight
enough by the throat, and up he flew in the air like a lark.
Little I knew the trick he was going to serve me. Up—up—up—God
knows how far up he flew. 'Why, then,' said I
to him, thinking he did not know the right road home, very
civilly—because why? I was in his power entirely—'sir,'
says I, 'please your honour's glory, and with humble submission
to your better judgment, if you'd fly down a bit,
you're now just over my cabin, and I could be put down
there, and many thanks to your worship.'
"'Arrah, Dan,' said he, 'do you think me a fool? Look
down in the next field, and don't you see two men and a
gun? By my word it would be no joke to be shot this
way, to oblige a drunken blackguard that I picked up off a
could stone in a bog." 'Bother you,' said I to myself, but I
did not speak out, for where was the use? Well, sir, up he
kept flying, flying, and I asking him every minute to fly
down, and all to no use. 'Where in the world are you
going, sir?' says I to him. 'Hold your tongue, Dan,' says
he; 'mind your own business, and don't be interfering with
the business of other people.' 'Faith, this is my business,
I think,' says I. 'Be quiet, Dan,' says he; so I said no
"At last, where should we come to but to the moon itself.
Now, you can't see it from this; but there is, or there was
in my time, a reaping-hook sticking out of the side of the
moon, this way (drawing the figure on the ground with the
end of his stick).
"'Dan,' said the eagle, 'I'm tired with this long fly; I
had no notion 'twas so far.' 'And, my lord, sir,' said I,
'who in the world axed you to fly so far—was it I? Did
not I beg, and pray, and beseech you to stop half an hour
ago?' 'There's no use talking, Dan,' said he; 'I'm tired
bad enough, so you must get off, and sit down on the moon
until I rest myself.' 'Is it sit down on the moon?' said I.
'Is it upon that little round thing, then? Why, then, sure
I'd fall off in a minute, and be kilt and split, and smashed
all to bits; you are a vile deceiver, so you are.' 'Not at
all, Dan,' said he; 'you can catch fast hold of the reaping-hook
that's sticking out of the side of the moon, and 'twill
keep you up.' 'I won't, then,' said I. 'Maybe not,' said
he, quite quiet. 'If you don't, my man, I shall just give
you a shake, and one slap of my wing, and send you down
to the ground, where every bone of your body will be
smashed as small as a drop of dew on a cabbage-leaf in the
morning.' 'Why, then, I'm in a fine way,' said I to myself,
'ever to have come alone with the likes of you;' and so,
giving him a hearty curse in Irish, for fear he'd know what
I said, I got off his back with a heavy heart, took hold of
the reaping-hook, and sat down upon the moon; and a
mighty cold seat it was, I can tell you that.
"When he had me there fairly landed, he turned about
on me, and said, 'Good morning to you, Daniel O'Rourke,'
said he; 'I think I've nicked you fairly now. You robbed
my nest last year ('twas true enough for him, but how he
found it out is hard to say), and in return you are freely
welcome to cool your heels dangling upon the moon like a
"'Is that all, and is this the way you leave me, you brute,
you?' says I. 'You ugly unnatural baste, and is this the
way you serve me at last? Bad luck to yourself, with
your hooked nose, and to all your breed, you blackguard.'
'Twas all to no manner of use; he spread out his great big
wings, burst out a-laughing, and flew away like lightning.
I bawled after him to stop, but I might have called and
bawled for ever without his minding me. Away he went,
and I never saw him from that day to this. Sorrow fly
away with him! You may be sure I was in a disconsolate
condition, and kept roaring out for the bare grief, when all
at once a door opened right in the middle of the moon,
creaking on its hinges as if it had not been opened for a
month before. I suppose they never thought of greasing
'em; and out there walks, who do you think, but the man
in the moon himself. I knew him by his busk.
"'Good morrow to you, Daniel O'Rourke,' said he. 'How
do you do?' 'Very well, thank your honour,' said I. 'I
hope your honour's well.' 'What brought you here, Dan?'
said he. So I told him how I was a little overtaken in
liquor at the master's, and how I was cast on a dissolute
island, and how I lost my way in the bog, and how the
thief of an eagle promised to fly me out of it, and how,
instead of that, he had fled me up to the moon.
"'Dan,' said the man in the moon, taking a pinch of
snuff when I was done, 'you must not stay here.' 'Indeed,
sir,' says I, ''tis much against my will I'm here at all; but
how am I to go back?' 'That's your business,' said he,
'Dan; mine is to tell you that here you must not stay, so
be off in less than no time.' 'I'm doing no harm,' says I,
'only holding on hard by the reaping-hook lest I fall off.'
'That's what you must not do, Dan,' says he. 'Pray, sir,'
says I, 'may I ask how many you are in family, that you
would not give a poor traveller lodgings? I'm sure 'tis not
so often you're troubled with strangers coming to see you,
for 'tis a long way.' 'I'm by myself, Dan,' says he; 'but
you'd better let go the reaping-hook.' 'Faith, and with
your leave,' says I, 'I'll not let go the grip; and the more
you bids me, the more I won't let go, so I will.' 'You had
better, Dan,' says he again. 'Why, then, my little fellow,'
says I, taking the whole weight of him with my eye from
head to foot, 'there are two words to that bargain; and I'll
not budge, but you may if you like.' 'We'll see how that
is to be,' says he; and back he went, giving the door such
a great bang after him (for it was plain he was huffed) that
I thought the moon and all would fall down with it.
"Well, I was preparing myself to try strength with him,
when back again he comes with the kitchen cleaver in his
hand, and, without saying a word, he gives two bangs to
the handle of the reaping-hook that was keeping me up,
and whap! it came in two. 'Good morning to you, Dan,'
says the spiteful little old blackguard, when he saw me
cleanly falling down with a bit of the handle in my hand,
'I thank you for your visit, and fair weather after you,
Daniel.' I had no time to make any answer to him, for I
was tumbling over and over, and rolling and rolling at the
rate of a fox-hunt. 'God help me,' says I, 'but this is a
pretty pickle for a decent man to be seen in at this time of
night; I am now sold fairly.' The word was not out of my
mouth when whiz! what should fly by close to my ear but
a flock of wild geese, all the way from my own bog of
Ballyashenogh, else how should they know me? The ould
gander, who was their general, turning about his head, cried
out to me, 'Is that you, Dan?' 'The same,' said I, not a
bit daunted now at what he said, for I was by this time
used to all kinds of bedevilment, and, besides, I knew him
of ould. 'Good morrow to you,' says he, 'Daniel O'Rourke.
How are you in health this morning?' 'Very well, sir,'
says I; 'I thank you kindly,' drawing my breath, for I was
mightily in want of some. 'I hope your honour's the same.'
'I think 'tis falling you are, Daniel,' says he. 'You may
say that, sir,' says I. 'And where are you going all the
way so fast?' said the gander. So I told him how I had
taken the drop, and how I came on the island, and how I
lost my way in the bog, and how the thief of an eagle flew
me up to the moon, and how the man in the moon turned
me out. 'Dan,' said he, 'I'll save you; put your hand out
and catch me by the leg, and I'll fly you home.' 'Sweet is
your hand in a pitcher of honey, my jewel,' says I, though
all the time I thought in myself that I don't much trust
you; but there was no help, so I caught the gander by the
leg, and away I and the other geese flew after him as fast as
"We flew, and we flew, and we flew, until we came right
over the wide ocean. I knew it well, for I saw Cape Clear
to my right hand, sticking up out of the water. 'Ah! my
lord,' said I to the goose—for I thought it best to keep a
civil tongue in my head any way—'fly to land, if you
please.' 'It is impossible, you see, Dan,' said he, 'for a while,
because, you see, we are going to Arabia.' 'To Arabia!'
said I; 'that's surely some place in foreign parts, far away.
Oh! Mr. Goose, why, then, to be sure, I'm a man to be
pitied among you.' 'Whist, whist, you fool,' said he; 'hold
your tongue. I tell you Arabia is a very decent sort of
place, as like West Carbery as one egg is like another, only
there is a little more sand there.'
"Just as we were talking a ship hove in sight, scudding so
beautiful before the wind. 'Ah! then, sir,' said I, 'will
you drop me on the ship, if you please?' 'We are not fair
over it,' said he. 'We are,' said I. 'We are not,' said he;
'if I dropped you now, you would go splash into the sea.'
'I would not,' says I; 'I know better than that, for it is
just clean under us, so let me drop now at once.'
"'If you must, you must,' said he. 'There, take your
own way;' and he opened his claw, and faith he was right,—sure
enough, I came down plump into the very bottom of
the salt sea! Down to the very bottom I went, and I gave
myself up then for ever, when a whale walked up to me,
scratching himself after his night's rest, and looked me full
in the face, and never the word did he say; but lifting up
his tail, he splashed me all over again with the cold salt
water, till there wasn't a dry stitch upon my whole carcase;
and I heard somebody saying—'twas a voice I knew too—'Get
up, you drunken brute, out of that,' and with that I
woke up, and there was Judy with a tub full of water,
which she was splashing all over me; for, rest her soul!
though she was a good wife, she never could bear to see me
in drink, and had a bitter hand of her own.
"'Get up,' said she again; 'and of all places in the
parish, would no place sarve your turn to lie down upon
but under the ould walls of Carrigaphooka? An uneasy
resting I am sure you had of it.' And sure enough I had;
for I was fairly bothered out of my senses with eagles, and
men of the moons, and flying ganders, and whales, driving
me through bogs, and up to the moon, and down to the
bottom of the great ocean. If I was in drink ten times
over, long would it be before I'd lie down in the same spot
again, I know that."