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Title: The Better Road
Author: Musette Morell
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The Better Road

by

Musette Morell



from
Three Radio Plays by Musette Morell
Australasian Publishing Company
1948

* * *

"The Better Road" was first presented under the pen-name of Fiona O'Farrell in 1943 by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The producer was John Cairns.


Editors note: The character, Sean, uses an array of pet names 'Aroon', 'Alanna' and 'Arra' etc. in the original text, when speaking to Maureen.


The cast:

Maureen — PATRICIA KENNEDY
Sean — DOUGLAs KELLY
Michael — ROBERT BURNARD
Stranger — WALTER PYM
   Workmen — FRED PATEY & AUSTEN MILROY

*

Music. Country Air: "Rich and Rare Were The Gems She Wore."

The Location of our play is the South-east of Ireland. A fine strapping couple are struggling up a steep country roadway. The man is walkin a little ahead of the woman. (A bird call or two.)

MAUREEN (panting). Stop a bit, Sean. Where's your hurry taking you?

SEAN. Yonder to the village. Take heart, aroon, 'tis but a hare's foot farther.

MAUREEN. Would it be only a bee's foot farther, 'twould be a mile-and-a-half too far for me, I'm thinking. 'Tis catching for my breath I am, the way I can travel no faster than a little new-born lamb would stagger.

SEAN. Come on, come on. Let you be making the small effort and we'll be alighting on the village as easy as two doves alight upon a bough.

MAUREEN. Arra, let me alight on this rock the while and take the weight off of my legs. (Sighs. Is heard to sit.) I've less strength to give than a chicken does be newly breaking the egg. Ah, 'tis weary I am of this everlasting road.

SEAN. I know, I know...Truly, I'm knowing just how you're feeling, acushla. 'Tisn't only weary of the everlasting road you are, 'tis weary of the way of life keeps you to the road. 'Tis for that I'm in. such a scorch of haste to get us to the village.

MAUREEN. And won't there be a road for us in the village? And beyond the village? And beyond the beyond o' that? What's there for beggars and trampers but roods, and they stretching from one world's end to the other? With naught to mark this road from that, saving only to say; here the stolen fruit was ripest; or there we found the three brown eggs left by the straying hen in the farmer's hay; or this way there's trees do spread friendly arms will cradle us from the heat; or that way lives the mangy cur will tear the rags off trespassing beggars. A woman might walk the roads for ever and gain nothing at all but old age, and with that gain lose all she has. (Sighs) Let the village wait itself—'twill be there in the morning, and I am tired.

SEAN. I was thinking how there'd be a bacon factory beyond would maybe give me a week's work.

MAUREEN. What's a week? A drop in the ocean of our lives. One week's pay marking the weeks of hunger before from the weeks of hunger coming after.

SEAN. Maybe I could stick it two weeks—(with an effort) or even three.

MAUREEN. And after that?

SEAN (with a supreme effort). Maybe I'd get to be like—er—tolerating the factory.

MAUREEN (amused in spite of her mood). Maybe the wild bird would get to be tolerating its cage. What have factories to offer the like of us? Wasn't it your own self saying we had our freedom only for we're fighting shy of them?

SEAN. A man can change his mind.

MAUREEN. Not if he has one. And wouldn't they be having you up on the mat the way you don't look humble enough, or the way you speak to the men of a better life than they're living?

SEAN. Maybe I could keep a check on me tongue the way I would be speaking no true word at all.

MAUREEN. Maybe you could, and maybe you could look meek as a branded sheep, and bow and smirk and gammon and be a clockwork dummy—but could you be happy so?

SEAN. A man can sometimes be easy with a thing that goes hard with him, because of it going easy with someone else.

MAUREEN. Easy? You?...And when all's said and done, d'you suppose they are any of them easy, with the factories sapping them the way a bee saps a flower, and not to be making them over into honey but to coin from them money, money, money!

SEAN. I'd not be minding a jingle of it in me pocket with night coming down, and ourselves coming at the village where folks is hard and the peelers nosing round those is homeless. Arra, if I can get employment, I'll work like your honey-bee.

MAUREEN. Wouldn't it be like all times before? They'd be wanting to bind you and clip you and pin you to their pattern. Haven't ye said there's no freedom on the face of the earth for the man must call another man master?

SEAN. Maureen, I swear it, the thing I want most in the whole wide world is to work for you, Maureen.

MAUREEN. Work! Where in the wide of the world is there the place a man can work for another and be calling his soul his own?

SEAN (unheeding). 'Tis work will set you up in a little houseen.

MAUREEN (dazed). A little houseen! But haven't you said all times what way a house imprisoned a man? How the things he had to do balancing the roof over his head, took the guts out of him? Is it wanting to become like the others you are, with a woman and like as not a brace o' brats a halter round ye neck, afraid to speak the free word lest the roof fall on them and the bit be taken out of their mouths? Answer me that, Sean O'Connor, greatest liar of them all!

SEAN. 'Tis not lying I am, Maureen—I swear it. I—I—'tis how I want it.

MAUREEN. Then I don't want it.

SEAN. Who's lying now?

MAUREEN. Will you be shut of this nonsense?

SEAN. Look me in the two eyes and tell me ye don't want a little houseen, Maureen; a little houseen with a sweet smelling rose growing at the door and the smoke swelling out of the chimney the like of a gay feather out of a hat. 'Tis the dream of your heart, Maureen, the dream you do be shutting away out of your eyes and voice in the hours of light, keeping it to hug by you in the dark lonesome spaces of the night.

MAUREEN. Sean!

SEAN. And then it's in the daytime how the silence falls between us; and your eyes looking this way and that way, anyways at all but into mine.

MAUREEN. No.

SEAN. Yes. 'Tis in the two eyes of you now, Maureen, naked as the naked truth; the two eyes of you looking in me own eyes the first time these many stranger days. Ah, which way did you think to be hiding it from me, acushla?

MAUREEN (softly). Let you not be plaguing me for it.

SEAN. Which way did ye think to be hiding it from me?

MAUREEN. 'Tis yourself is knowing which way.

SEAN. Arra, 'tis myself's knowing it true enough. 'Tis the way not to hurt the lordly Sean O'Connor, himself; the way he shouldn't be needing to adapt his high and mighty person to other folk. Ech! the way the great grousing, rating, dithering, blathering loon could nurse his philosophy undisturbed. It's for that the loveliest woman in Ireland trudges the roads by his side, till her heart do be weary as her little white feet.

MAUREEN. I'll not be listening to you blaspheming again yourself.

SEAN (softly). The wonder of it! The living wonder of it!

MAUREEN (after a pause). Was I nagging your soul weary just now?

SEAN. Not you.

MAUREEN. But I was—a woman's tongue can he blighting a man more surely than frost beats back the young buds.

SEAN. There's no boundary to the charity of your heart, alanna.

MAUREEN (roguishly). Ah, you're meaning I've the cold heart—cold as charity.

SEAN. Warm as the golden sun, as the spring and the red wine o' the rose, rose of my heart.

MAUREEN. You had always the coaxing, winning smile to you and the tongue on you would melt the marrow in a woman.

SEAN. Ah, and its had to stand me in good stead, the same tongue. Many's the time I'd gone supperless to bed, but for the turning of a phrase would put bread in my hand, and butter on the bread.

MAUREEN (sighing). 'Tis that way of life suits you best, Sean.

SEAN. 'Tis your way of life has my concern, agrah. Listen, aroon, 'tis the times I'm hearing you awake by my side in the terrors of the night, and hearing you sigh when you thought me sleeping—

MAUREEN (guiltily). No—

SEAN (slowly). Them sighs—them little sighs from your heart's heart—'tis how they're teaching me what the lack of a bit of bright ribbon, and a trifle of jewellery, may mean to a woman. For 'tis a great curse on women surely and they to be deprived of small vanities. Arra, but its that you'll soon have all you want.

MAUREEN. Let be, Sean. The village is never the place for you. 'Tisn't in you to bend to rich folk; the ways of money are crooked ways.

SEAN. 'Tis maybe I'll get me some little innocent thing to do like tilling the pure earth; some innocent thing that hurts no one, Maureen, which way I can stick, and gather the small decent home about us, the like of your dream.

MAUREEN. Oh, aren't you the gallant pretender letting on you'd be happy doing the same.

SEAN. Happy as a man without a crown.

MAUREEN. 'Tis never from the heart you're speaking?

SEAN. From the heart only.

MAUREEN. 'Tis miracles, is it?

SEAN (gaily). Will you walk the bit further to the village now, aroon? 'Tis but over the scruff of the hill. Let you rise up and give me your hand. (Movement.) Ah, see, 'tis in contentment you are now—the weariness has fallen from you. (Laughs.)

MAUREEN (relenting). Well—only 'tis some innocent employment—

SEAN. My kiss on it!

MAUREEN. Oh, Sean!

SEAN (gaily). It's time we pulled up on the village. Make haste, alanna.

>(Music—fast but soft and rather prankish, with a note of anticipation to sweep them to the top of the hill where the wind blows for a moment. Short pause. Then a blaring band fades in, and concludes its piece with a great flourish. Cheers and cries of peasant crowd. Fade under dialogue.)

SEAN. Seems the village itself's heard of our arrival.

MAUREEN (lovingly). You great gosoon, you!

SEAN. Well, the band's played, the folks cheered—it must be for us—it could never be for that grinning Micky Dazzler, that caricature of dignity, perched up on the platform there before the crowd, the way he was a statue on a pedestal; and a stiff-faced woman at his side. Are you sighting them?

MAUREEN (to herself). I'm sighting them, surely.

MICHAEL (off). Ahem! Ahem! Ladies and gentlemen.

SEAN. Merciful heaven! He's about to be delivered of a speech. Let's 'move off (walking out), or maybe 'tis how we'd be hearing him.

MICHAEL (off, with all his charm). Ladies and gentlemen, 'tis giving me great pleasure this day to address ye on such an— (Voice fades out to distant murmur. Short pause. Bird calls.)

SEAN (walking on). Isn't that the narrow escape we're after having? Let you sit down here a while on the grass be the outskirts of the crowd, the way his trumpeting won't overreach us...What ails you, Maureen, that you don't take your ease, and you destroyed with walking?

MAUREEN (evasively). 'Tis how I'm wanting to watch a while.

SEAN. Are you away in your head that you're wanting to watch a fat fool make a sorry spectacle of hisself?

MAUREEN (intent). 'Tis looking at his wife I am—such finery!

(Tepid clapping and murmurs off.)

MAUREEN. There! he's said his fill.

SEAN. Or the crowd's had theirs. I wonder who he is when he's at home. Perhaps this good man yonder might tell us. (Louder.) Good day, stranger, and could you enlighten me as to who the gentleman just finished speechifying may be?

STRANGER (elderly voice). Is it him you're wanting to know? Bedad! your honor, 'tis well seen you're a stranger to these parts, for 'tis the local member, it is, Michael Maloney, M.P., himself.

SEAN. He is that?

STRANGER (hoping to please). He is that surely, your honor, and it's the grand fine man he is, and the grand bit of talk he has too, (whining) tho' 'tis perishing with the drought I do be, listening to him and all.

SEAN. The local member! Arra, he has it all there printed on his face.

STRANGER (agreeing quickly). Hasn't he though, your honor? And him blabbing away till the cows come home, the way I'm dry as an old burnt bone with the sun in it and all. Ah, it's some fellas has all the luck, for there's him now with maybe devil a thirst on him, could buy the pub and not disturb the lining of his pocket, and here's myself with me tongue black for want of it, without the price in me pocket.

SEAN. I haven't the halfpenny to share with you at all.

STRANGER. Heh? You're like meself, is it?

SEAN. It is.

STRANGER (contemptuously). Huh!

SEAN. But now, could you tell me if there is there a farm here abouts wants a man to dig spuds or maybe herd sheep?

STRANGER (disgusted). Is it work ye're seekin'?

SEAN, It is.

STRANGER (clears his throat, expectorates lengthily). Sooner gold you'll be finding.

SEAN. Is there no one needing a hand at all? Maybe—maybe the brick factory beyond's coming short of a man?

STRANGER. Maybe 'tis raining diamonds.

SEAN. Many men are working there, is it?

STRANGER. A handful of men there is doing each the work of two; and a dozen handsful beyond doing no work at all; till it's little wonder the poor do be despairing the pitiful times that is on us.

SEAN. 'Tis the devil has the world in harness, driving the masters of men against their nature. How else would they be spreading a banquet for the dump, and turning aside from little children is starving...(Rallies.) Tell me, man, who owns the factory itself?

STRANGER. Who but his lordship just done spouting.

MAUREEN (quickly ). You don't be liking the factories, Sean.

SEAN. Quiet, Maureen! Er—you mean the old Member of Parliment's owning it?

STRANGER. No one but himself owns anything here abouts.

SEAN. Then himself's the man to interview. H'm! I could have wished a fairer face on me fortune...but what's the odds! lf you'll kindly direct me to his home I'll skip off now and pull up on him at his gate and he stepping from his motor-car.

STRANGER. A wall-eyed bat on a pitchy black night and the heavens raining blindness itself, couldn't miss Michael Maloney's house—sure, 'tis grander than a palace. (Awed.) Their shows of wealth would frighten you. Did you see the gold chain on him? And such a power of shirt front.

SEAN (bursting out).> 'Tis him and his like keeps you as you are.

STRANGER. True for ye. True for ye. But 'tis never thinking of asking him for anything you are, is it?

SEAN. I've no choice. Which road would his house be now?

STRANGER. Which road but the main road?

SEAN. Of course, of course! Maureen, let you make after me a little way along the main road, and sit for me under the trees by the bridge over the stream; the way I'll be meeting up with you on my return from the old fox's burrow. (Gaily.) I've to snare a job for to-morrow,and a red copper or two to buy us a sup this night.

STRANGER. So you're going, is it?

SEAN. I am—setting off nimble, to race the wind! Be meeting with me, Stranger, in one pay day or two, and I'll be easing your drought. Wish me luck, Maureen (walking out), and be sitting for me under the trees by the bridge over the stream.

(Music. Few bars only. Twitter of birds. Sound of car. It stops. Door of car. Footsteps approach.)

MICHAEL (walking on). Sitting under the trees, by the bridge over the stream, Maureen!

MAUREEN. 'Twas knowing you'd come I was. I was seeing your eye light upon me in the crowd the time you were speaking to them.

MICHAEL (emotionally) I was seeing you among them. A vision it seemed. You to be standing there like a queen in your beauty, (harshly) with the old green shawl on the head of you, and the bedraggled red skirt of you—Maureen, what brings you to this?

MAUREEN (lightly). You mean what brings me to the village here? My two legs, the only means of conveyance I know.

MICHAEL. 'Tis true, then, God help you! You've leagured up with that tramp and scavenger, Sean O'Connor.

MAUREEN. When were you knowing him?

MICHAEL. I wasn't knowing him at all. But I'm knowing you, so that I was all times asking where it was you were and what it was you were doing.

MAUREEN (mischievously) You must have changed surely.

MICHAEL. Maureen, how could you! A jack-of-all-trades, a man can turn his hand to anything and will turn his mind, to nothing.

MAuREEN. 'Tis turning his mind to you he is this day, Michael Maloney.

MICHAEL. He is?

MAUREEN. Ay, gone to ask you for a job he has.

MICHAEL. Then...you are meaning to stay by these parts a while, Maureen?

MAUREEN. If the fates have it that way—and it seems that you are fate this day.

MICHAEL (warmly). 'Tis a smiling fate I'd be to you, Maureen. (She gives a low laugh.) Ah, well I know that toss of your head and your eye mocking at me over your shoulder. 'Tis a lovely trick to be sure. (Again the low laugh.) 'Tis a lovely woman you are, Maureen, a warm, glowing, vital woman. Er—is it some folk I see walking this way?

MAUREEN. It is; and a well-looking group they are.

MICHAEL. Then I'd best be—

MAUREEN. Quit of me. You're not the farmer I was knowing now. It wouldn't do for the mighty Michael Maloney, M.P., to be seen talking with a tramping woman, in an old shawl and bedraggled skirt itself and her sitting under the trees, by the bridge over the stream, in his own townland.

MICHAEL. It wasn't that I was meaning, but—

MAUREEN (kindly). But its how you'll have to be getting back to your motor car, the way they won't be squealing for you at home. I understand. Go then.

MICHAEL. Where were you saying I was to see him?

MAUREEN. Oh, himself will be seeing you. He'll be pouncing on you, like a dog upon a flea, and you coming at your gate.

MICHAEL. Then (with significance)> good-bye for now, Maureen.

MAUREEN. Good-bye, Michael.

MICHAEL. 'Tis good-bye for now only, Maureen.

MAUREEN (slowly). Good-bye for now, Michael.

(His footsteps receding. Car door slammed. Car starts up. Fade it quickly. Birds heard for a moment. Fade in music. Swell, fade out and bring up birds.)

SEAN (walking in). Well, I've done it!

MAUREEN. What! You have gotten a job at the brick factory? What did he say?

SEAN. He says, Mr. O'Connor, he says, you're the very man I've been looking for. I make you general manager of all you survey on the spot.

MAUREEN. Will you be done fooling?

SEAN. Well, then, I'm to be time-keeper at the brick works and to collect his rents as well—seems he's owning the homes his workers do be living in.

MAUREEN. Collect the rents! You won't be liking that.

SEAN (quickly). Which way wouldn't I be liking it? I'll be collecting only from folks has the money.

MAUREEN (reassured). Oh! When do you start?

SEAN. Tomorrow morning. (Jingles money.) Arra! hark to that! It's the wherewithal of the grandest supper you've ever eat.

MAUREEN (with an excited laugh). He give you some in advance, then?

SEAN. Lashens of it! And now let you rise up, for it's dining and house-hunting we must be before we lay ourselves to rest this night.

MAUREEN (rapturous). A little houseen! A little houseen with a sweet-smelling rose by the door!

SEAN. Come! We'll find our little houseen; then we'll sup with success and drink misery under the table.

MAUREEN. Oh, Sean! (Their happy laughter.)

(Music—joyous stuff.)

MAUREEN. Let you push off now, Sean O'Connor, or 'tis yourself will be late.

SEAN. And what is it you're doing and you your lone, the while I'm beyond playing time-keeper at the factory and collecting the rents?

MAUREEN. Oh, I'm one time sweeping and dusting and polishing the floors, and one time dusting and polishing the bits of tables and chairs, the way I'm kept singing at my work till the sun is high. Then there's the rose at the door I'm coaxing to grow, not to mention your other shirt to be made clean, for it's yourself must be neat and tidy as a bird in new feathers now you're the respectable worker himself.

SEAN (laughs). A respectable slave! Arra, it brings happiness to my heart to see your shining joy, aroon.

MAUREEN. Then which way don't you look it?

SEAN. What's that?

MAUREEN. I said which way can't you look happy if that's the way you're feeling? What disturbs your thoughts, alanna?

SEAN. Ech?...

MAUREEN. It would be something to do with the rents, I'm thinking.

SEAN. Why should I worryet about their old rents? Let the rents be the concern of the rent payers, they be no concern of mine. Its my job for to collect them.

MAUREEN. There's many another job would be sweeter to your taste, I'm thinking; for its the soft fella the like of you will always have his heart destroyed that everyone isn't better off than himself.

SEAN (grandly denying it). No—no!

MAUREEN. What is it, then, if it isn't other folks' troubles? (With sudden fear.) It isn't how he said anything to you, is it?

SEAN (largely). No, no. (Admitting a little) 'Tis only...oh, why is it those who have must always want it all?

MAUREEN. "Much will have more"—'tis the way of you baby men.

SEAN (quickly). Not all men, it isn't. We've a dream of something better, haven't we? And what we can dream we can do.

MAUREEN (she has heard it all before). I know, I know. But how has he put the shadow across your heart the way you must be thinking deep thoughts and making cover with hight talk to hide them away from me?

SEAN. 'Tis nothing—

MAUREEN. Let your tongue not be saying one thing and your eyes another.

SEAN (bursting out). The poor nature of him. Would it hurt him to reduce their rents a little? Must he ever make himself richer by making them poorer?

MAUREEN (quietly)>. Go on.

SEAN (pulling up). That's—all.

MAUREEN. Have you told him what's on your tongue?

SEAN. No, and it's not on my tongue.

MAUREEN. Then it soon will be—for 'tis in your heart.

SEAN (bursting forth again). Him to be a parliment member! How can he let on to represent the men when his interests are not their interests. Oh, it's a fake he is. Arra, how I talk! 'Tis my legs and not my tongue should be running off with me. I'll never get my work done this day, stringing gabble the like o' this. Well, now I'll take my leave.

MAUREEN. And take this kiss along with you, alanna.

SEAN. Mavourneen!...Agrah!...Let you not be thinking I wouldn't do my all and utmost to keep your face smiling the way its a shining glory these two weeks or three. Aroon—

MAUREEN. Let you not be talking deep love, Sean O'Connor, or the day will be lost on us ere you're setting forth.

SEAN. I'll be gone out the door now, like a rabbit from its burrow when a ferret's after getting in.

MAUREE. Er—is it rent collecting you are?

SEAN. No; I'm at the factory to-day. (Walking out quickly) Good-bye, agrah.

(Maureen sings softly as she moves about her dusting.)

MAUREEN (singing).—

Little houseen, O little houseen,
You must be clean—you must be clean!

MICHAEL (off). Maureen!

(Singing ceases abruptly.)

MICHAEL (in). As you're not needing to open the door, I won't be needing to knock on it.

MAUREEN. It's—it's how I had to open it to let Sean out and himself just going.

MICHAEL. I'm just this minute passing him on the road. (Pause, during which she is heard dusting.) You won't be flicking me away with the duster in your hand, Maureen—

MAUREEN. What is it you're wanting?

MICHAEL. A sight of you. 'Tis hungry I've been for a sight of you since meeting with yourself by the roadside the two weeks that are gone. Ay, and before that, in truth to tell, 'tis hungry I've been for you since I was leaving you, Maureen.

MAUREEN. Does the dog leave the bone the time he's hungry?

MICHAEL. Let you not be thinking harshly on me, Maureen, after all these years.

MAUREEN. 'Twas never harshly I thought on you, Michael, even in the first wild ferment of my grief.

MICHAEL (with satisfaction). 'Tis a greater beauty the years have brought you, Maureen. There's some do be saying how grief ennobles a woman, and I'm thinking this day they do not lie.

MAUREEN. 'Tis a noble duty you took upon yourself, surely, you to be hurting me the way my beauty should blossom in tears. Folks did be saying it wasn't for any care of myself the young farmer left me sudden to wed with Bertha O'Daly and her with her father dying on her and leaving her the money and the land and all.

MICHAEL. I married Bertha O'Daly herself and all times I am regretting it. 'Twas my brain led me to Bertha, as my blood led me to you, Maureen; as 'tis the tide of my blood drags me back to you now.

MAUREEN. That's not the way to be speaking, Michael.

MICHAEL. 'Tis the way I must be speaking, Maureen. Maureen—Maureen! Maureen and Michael. 'Tis music our two names do be making, though 'tis a small song to the grand melody our two lives will be singing when put together side by side. Maureen and Michael! Set our two lives together, Maureen, and—

MAUREEN (cutting in). And watch the light die out of my eyes, the way I'd be the like of your own wife herself, with a hard dry voice on me and no love at all to warm my bones.

MICHAEL (forcing a laugh). Which way is it you'd be ever the same as Bertha, Maureen; you with the red mouth on you the like of a ripened fruit, the flashing eye and the swishing, swinging walk.

MAUREEN. And isn't it Bertha herself was one time the like of myself? I'm remembering Bertha had the soft pouting mouth to her, though to-day it's a scar across her face.

MICHAEL. It is that surely.

MAUREEN, And her voice, one time full of sap and wine—

MICHAEL, Is bleak and tart as a lemon. Would you have us typifying and indexing the whole of her, when 'tis of our two selves we should be speaking this hour? (Warmly) Let you be looking at myself, Maureen, and listening to myself and not be giving over to foolish memories of the past.

MAUREEN (slowly). 'Tis looking at you and listening to you, Michael, takes me back to the past. Looking at you and listening to you I am, wondering what it was itself I was seeing and hearing in you in the years that are gone. (Her voice taking on a lyric note) 'Tis what was in your face bewitched me; and your voice out-singing the thrushes and every waking bird the way it was sounding in my ears like the sea and the wind and the whole blessed choir of the universe enchanted.

MICHAEL. I bewitched you surely, Maureen. 'Twas like a little fluttering bird you were beneath my hand. Ah, the haughty Maureen, bandying words with the frolicsome lads, never bandied words with me. 'Twas proud you were, proud, Maureen, to feel my kisses on your lips, till your eyelids did be drooping and you lay shaking in these two arms.

MAUREEN (slowly). Ay, proud I was to bear your love, Michael, proud and happy, surely, the way the losing of it nearly lost me my life.

MICHAEL (quickly). Wisha! 'tis a living woman you are this day, Maureen, and I a living man.

MAUREEN. Take your hand off of me. Let you not be making poacher love to me, Michael Maloney, M.P., member of the Dail, pillar of the Church and bright light of high society.

MICHAEL (flattered in spite of her tone). 'Tis true, I've come a long way sine I was the farmer lad you knew, yet all I have is counting little to me this hour when set side-by-side with your love in the years that are past.

MAUREEN. And what year would that be now, Michael Maloney? Would it be the year you were leaving me?

MICHAEL. Let you not keep taunting me with that, Maureen. Must you be spoiling times that are with memories of times that are gone, when I tell you 'tis panting I am to eat the red fruit of your mouth the way your eyes will be falling downward, and your breath coming in great sighs.

MAUREEN. Take your hat and go now, Michael Maloney; and be not coming here again lest Sean O'Connor be seeing you and there be wild talk. For where there's wild talk itself, there'll be wild deeds, and I'm wanting no trouble in my little houseen.

MICHAEL. 'Tis little I'd care for trouble, if I'm having yourself. Let me love you agen, Maureen, and I'll be rising up from my knees to face a thousand devils and worst them all.

MAUREEN. I'm telling ye I want no trouble in my little houseen.

MICHAEL. There's trouble in my heart, Maureen. Since the short time I'm meeting with you, sitting 'neath the trees by the bridge across the stream; a brooding, fermenting trouble that will not let me be.

MAUREEN (to herself), Oh, is it everything must come toppling down the moment it be builded up!

MICHAEL. 'Tis dreaming of you I've been, Maureen, dreaming long, cosy dreams till 'tis jealous I've grown of the air beats about you, the shadow falling on your face or the very cleansing water itself and it lapping at your whiteness. 'Tis jealous I am of all men lest one step between you and me.

MAUREEN (quickly). You've no call to be' touchy with Sean O'Connor. 'Tis a great worker he is, and the civil tongue he has too.

MICHAEL. 'Tis yourself he has, Maureen—tho' 'tis little afeared I am of that in the days that are to come; for 'tis a poor show himself must be making in the eyes of a queen of women, and him without ambition would lift a mole from the earth's belly into sunlight, with nothing to offer save only a small thatch over her head and three meals a day.

MAUREEN. 'Tis the most I do be needing. And pray let you not talk so wild, Michael Maloney, for 'tis myself will not bother to listen at all.

MICHAEL. You must listen to me, Maureen, and look at me, Maureen. 'Tis the rich man you'll see. A man's made no small thing of his life. 'Tis money and success I have this day, Maureen, honour and position I have truly. (Sharply) Let you look at me the while I am speaking.

MAUREEN (deliberately). 'Tis looking at you I am, Michael Maloney, looking at you the time you were speaking; looking deep in the deeps of your two eyes I am.

MICHAEL. Which way do you say it like that, Maureen?

MAUREEN (slowly and hauntingly). Looking and looking...Ah, I thought so!...I thought to be finding there something I knew—

MICHAEL. 'Tis the love of yourself you find, Maureen.

MAUREEN (continuing softly). 'Twas knowing I was, if it was deeply I looked, I'd be finding the little bit human, the little bit tender—what way did you hope to kill it, Michael?

MICHAEL (crying out). Take your eyes from off of me, Maureen—there is hate in your two eyes looking at me so.

MAUREEN. 'Tis pity—not hate, Michael; 'tis pity, alanna. For I'm seeing now not even yourself is believing in your success.

MICHAEL (resorting to temper). What raving gabble is this? Let you be asking the townsfolk, let you be asking my banker if it's successful I am.

MAUREEN. Success? (Scornfully) Seeing you I am, that day two weeks gone, making your speech to the people. All dressed up you were, in a coat costing the price of six coats, cheered by men lacking the price of one. Seeing you I am, swollen and stout, and the face of you fallen from shape with you gorging on the fat of the land, the time the poor do be giving their little children water to drink the way they won't know they're empty and they going supperless to bed. Success!

MICHAEL, Am I responsible for the state of the country?

MAUREEN. You benefit by it.

MICHAEL. I'm not believing it's the best that might be. 'Tis taking the world as I'm finding it I am, and doing the best I can. We can't all be trapsing the roads for a living. Some of us does be looking to get something from life.

MAUREEN (sighs). Must it always be taken from others?

MICHAEL. What's come over you, Maureen? You to be preaching at me. 'Tis not for myself I'd have riches, but for me family.

MAUREEN. H'm, certain as death it is the fellas like you make certain to get wives the like of Bertha, who'll take care you go in for the money.

MICHAEL. One thing certain, I wouldn't have a woman walking the hard roads, dressed in rags.

MAUREEN. Maybe you'd have her treading deep in carpets and her tears salting a velvet gown.

MICHAEL. A woman needs to live softly.

MAUREEN. Don't talk to me of a woman's needs when 'twas myself seeing Bertha's face and her sitting by you on your speech day itself. A woman dries be needing to beheve in her man—>that's a woman's need.

MICHAEL. Arra, you're leagured up to a failure and you'd turn the world itself topsy-turvy to prove he's on top of it—is that it?

MAUREEN. Have it that way if it comforts ye.

MICHAEL. Whist! Whist! 'Tis the hard life of the roads has turned your mind from the light to sick things, surely. To listen to you is to hear an old wife blabbing of virtue the time she's done with fun. Is it your fire's all burnt out? Have you no little warmth left for me at all?

MAUREEN (explaining gently). 'Tis that I've give the heart's love, Michael.

MICHAEL. As once you gave it to me. You were ever the one to tantalize, Maureen; never content only you had all the lads half-crazy. How do I know it isn't tantalizing me now you are?

MAUREEN. I am not, I am not. It isn't gaming I am, Michael.

MICHAEL. Let you speak for to-day and not for to-morrow.

MAUREEN. For to-day and to-morrow, ever and always. Once the heart has given its deepest core of love there can be no more change. (He sighs.) There must be other women for your courting.

MICHAEL Not your like. (Sighs.) What is it you'd have me do?

MAUREEN. I'd have you go, Michael, and not be coming tempting me agen.

MICHAEL. You mustn't be saying that, Maureen.

MAUREEN. I must be saying it, Michael. What way would you be destroying me that's never done or wished you a stroke of harm?

MICHAEL. Can the moth be resisting the light? Can the flower turn away from the sun? There's a power in you, Maureen, magics the blood. (Heavily) But I'll go so, for I'm seeing my coming brings a shock out of the past. (Sighs.) I'll back to me factory. (Walking off.) But it's not long I'll be coming again. I'll be coming again!

(Music. Crash in with mood—with a threatening note; on last few bars fade to:
Conveyors and engine driving them, carrying same rhythm as music.
Factory whistle.
Engine stops. Men heard filing out.)

1ST WORKER. Here comes Sean O'Connor, the Time-keeper. Get him to give us a spiel the whiles we're eating our dinner. (Murmurs of assent.) Hi, there, O'Connor!

SEAN >(off). Hi, there!

2ND WORKER. Let's be having some more like yer last.

SEAN (in). And what would that be now?

1ST WORKER. 'Twas slating himself you were.

SEAN. I was saying if it's suffering from high rents you are—

1ST WORKER. We are that surely. (Murmurs.)

SEAN. Then it's no use coming at Michael Maloney for to get them lowered.

A VOICE (shouting). He's our representative, isn't he?

SEAN. In name only.

2ND WORKER. He says he's doing all he knows.

SEAN. He's doing you all he knows. (A laugh.) 'Tis he's your landlord and he's raising your rent, isn't it?

2ND WORKER. And isn't it all landlords are raising the rent?

SEAN. Then if Michael Maloney is your representative itself, let him be setting the example be lowering his own rents. Your representative? Pah!—all he represents is feathers for his own nest.

2ND WORKER. It's a queer rent collector our time-keeper is. (Laughter.)

SEAN. Maybe I am the queer rent-collector, but if I am the same, it's a queerer pack of sheep youselves are, and yous to be set on by a wolf calling himself your representative. (Murmurs.) Ay, 'tis youselves are the sleeping sheep and himself the wide-awake wolf. (Murmurs.) For when you ask him to plead for yous, you're asking yous own landlord himself to march on parliment, to force his own self to be reducing his own rents. (A laugh. Deep murmurs.)

1ST WORKER. Begod! he's right! We shoulda voted in one of ourselves.

SEAN. And didn't himself kick off as one of yous? But d'yous fancy he heeds your wishes now? No; his ear is tuned to the big fellas, the monopoly fellas; for only a fella with a stake in the country has a voice in its government. (Murmurs.) 'Tis the monopoly fellas is pulling the strings and yourselves, the sweet innocents, can't see it.

1ST WORKER. Be jabbers! it's true.

2ND WORKER. But we've the vote, haven't we?

SEAN. And did ye vote for anything ye've got? Did ye vote to have yer rents raised on you? What's the strength of yer vote when you're letting themselves get a strangleholt on everything strong? What's the worth of yer vote when themselves owns everything worth voting for?

2ND WORKER. A vote must be worth something.

SEAN. Not in itself it isn't. You've got to make it worth something. You've got to be peering behind yer vote and see who it is you're voting for and what it is he's letting on to do.

1ST WORKER. Higher wages and lower rents is what himself was letting on to do.

SEAN. And he's give it to you—t'other way round!

VOICE. By hokey! it's the dirty piece he is.

SEAN. It's the dirty piece he is, sure enough. Him and his monopoly tribe. (Suddenly turning on them) And what of yourselves? Are yous so bright and shining? Does the light be beating in your minds—or only greed? Ye'd have him a noble monument of truth, but are yous honest youselves?—For remember where all men is honest the thief cannot thrive!

VOICE. Oh! 'tis making me sick ye are!

SEAN. And you're making me sick, less yous give over voting like childers round a Xmas tree and grow to responsible men. I'm telling ye 'tis honest ye must. be, and straight—as your representative must be honest and straight. But how is it?

1ST WORKER. Sure, its crooked he is.

SEAN. Then where is your pride?

VOICE. In his pocket—along with the rest of our goods! (A laugh.)

SEAN (continuing). Where is your pride that yous don't kick him out? Or have yous so little pride ye just shrug him outa yous mind? (Angrily) Be shut that laughing! Show your pride by kicking him out, I say!

A VOICE (loudly). This is no time for you to be saying such things.

SEAN. 'Tis time everybody was saying such things—else your bad times to-day will be your good times to-morrow. Be kicking him out, I say; as kick out any man has betrayed you, getting himself made member for things he doesn't do. (Excited murmurs.) 'Tis the way to make your votes count. 'Tis the one and only way!

BOY (walking in). If it please you, Mr. O'Connor, the boss is after wanting you in his office.

2ND WORKER. You're in for it now, me boyo!

SEAN (walking off). We'll see!

(Footsteps. Knock on door of office.)

MICHAEL (within). Come in!

(Door.)

SEAN (walking in). You're wanting me, Mr. Maloney?

MICHAEL (deliberately). I don't know that I do. I don't know that I ever did. (Rasping) I'm hearing you just now with the men about the rents.

SEAN (undisturbed). Well, I've said the same to yourself, haven't I? The men can't be paying the higher rents on the wages they're after getting. Most of the tenants is your own workmen, so you're well knowing their wage.

MICHAEL. I pay them a goodly wage, don't I?

SEAN. If it's a goodly wage you pay them itself, it's the goodly cut you take out of it, what with your rent and their shopping at your corner store, and the prices been riz on the bit they put in their children's mouths—and now the rise in rent—

MICHAEL. If they don't like it, they're welcome to go elsewhere.

SEAN:. Welcome to starve, is it?

MICHAEL. 'Tis a free country.

SEAN. Where some is masters and some is slaves—who is it free? Work for me, or starve, you say. Work for me, and to be keeping your job, think, do and be what I tell you.

MICHAEL. Enough of that! They have their vote, don't they? Their vote gets them what they want.

SEAN. And its yourself is telling them so, I bet. Piling up their belief in it; letting on 'tis the magic key to Heaven itself, when all times it's yourself, ye old devil! lurks behind, pulling the strings binds them to Hell.

MICHAEL. God give me patience.

SEAN. Have you no mind for their sufferings at all? Have you no love for them at all?

MICHAEL (beside himself). What has love to do with it? I suppose I loved toiling and moiling all the years to get me where I am? I suppose I loved digging me first farm out of the bare hillside with me bare hands? And later, I must have loved fretting and sweating in the office here, seeing the men don't devil me outa me hard earned reward? What the hell's love to do with work?

SEAN (soberly). Little to nothing, I'm afeared, and it's the trouble with the world, I'm thinking. Them to be having it all mapped out the way a man to live must be turning himself into a monster or a slave, for to follow his nature is to league with starvation.

MICHAEL. Aha! You're beginning to see it, are you?

SEAN. I've seen it all along.

MICHAEL (with an effort at control). Then listen to me, Sean O'Connor. A man owes a duty to himself, and to his own, to make his way in the world—that comes first—

SEAN. But I'm saying—

MICHAEL (powerfully). Listen to me, I'm saying. Can't you see—

SEAN (irritably). I see what you see. But yourself can't see with me. (Painfully) Can't you understand that a man's duty may stretch beyond himself to embrace all men?

MICHAEL. Ah, 'tis the like of just such moony, crazy notions has yourself where you are. 'Tis the thinking of a three-year-old—

SEAN (bursting out). And what of your own moony, crazy notion, your own three-months-old thinking, of you to be grabbing and gaining for ever, and themselves to be everlastingly grabbed from and losing? How long do yous think that one can work in a living world?

MICHAEL. When I'm wanting the advice of a man's never worked in his natural—

SEAN (interrupting). I've done me share of work and not for meself alone. That I might work for all I've gone without meself.

MICHAEL. A trouble-maker. We're not wanting your kind round here, stirring up folks is contented.

SEAN. Contented!

MICHAEL. And when I'm wanting the advice of a good-for-nothing, scavangering tramp, I'll be asking for it.

SEAN (hotly). You're asking for something stronger than advice, Michael Maloney, and be wary I'm not giving it to you.

MICHAEL. That'll do now. For two pins I'll be making you to quit these premises and not go showing your interfering face—

SEAN (calmly). For two pins, is it? Maybe I could oblige you with them now. Arra, here's one, and here's its twin, nestling in me new coat of the respectable slave.

MICHAEL. Be gone! Be gone, I'm saying.

SEAN. Ay, I'll be gone. (Quieter) But what of the rents—you won't be rising them? (With feeling) It can't be you're wanting to see them all on the roads along with myself?

MICHAEL. I'd be wanting to see them dead in hell along with yourself, if they're showing the spirit yourself is airing this day. What's it coming to when I can be preached at by a common-vagabond, a low-down—

(Sean gives a yell.)

MICHAEL (in sudden terror) Keep your dirty hands off of me—

SEAN. After they're feeling the joy of squeezing the fat of your neck.

MICHAEL. Keep off—keep off! (Choking) Ah!—Let—let me go—

SEAN (speaking with effort). After you've give your promise...to perform...your duty...

MICHAEL. Let me go—Ah!—What duty?

SEAN (panting). The duty one man owes to another...Why should you destroy them—without cause?...Can't you be seeing you'll fail in satisfaction?

MICHAEL. Let me...Help! Help!...Oh!...(Craven) I'll be doing—what you ask—

SEAN (freeing him). Ha!

MICHAEL (sobbing). And now be quit of here—for pity's sake! I'm—I'm—

SEAN (with disgust). Afraid. I never yet met the master who wasn't. In the beginning, afraid of poverty—that's how you begin. So you work agen us, to rise above, surrounding yourself with power like a high wall, shutting out the terrors, hoarding your bits and pieces, till you come to this: afeared—not only of poverty, but of the poor, lest we might be taking (mimicking) "what's rightly yours." Could any man have a worse fate he to be afeared of his own kind?

MICHAEL. Get out—get out—

SEAN (continuing relentlessly). 'Tis your like does be easing their conscienee giving sops to charity, the way when you die they'll build a statue to your ugly mug. Oh, I know you—hoping to buy for gold the love you never can earn. But I'll tell you this: not all your money can buy you a man's happiness. Your wife hates you, the men hate you, and I believe it you're hated by your own self.

MICHAEL (frenzied). Be quit from my factory.

SEAN. Ay, I'll quit from your factory. But not before I've spoke with your men.

(Music. Up and fade for: Tapping on door of cottage, Door opened.)

MAUREEN (aghast). Michael! Ye've come back!

MICHAEL. I had to come.

MAUREEN. Your face—'tis swollen and black, a sight to frighten little children.

MICHAEL. I've been hurt, but no matter...Maureen, its tired I am...weary I am...'tis wanting to get away I am. Save me, Maureen—

MAUREEN (sympathetically). Sit down, Michael

MICHAEL. Sit ye here beside me and give me yer hand. 'Tis going away I am. 'Tis going away I am, with you, Maureen. We'll be leaving this place that's after knowing me well, and going off to strangers.

MAUREEN (coaxingly). Its how you wouldn't be contented, Michael, not for long. You'd soon be growing tired and afraid, and you having only yourself to fall back on.

MICHAEL. Its growing tired and afraid as I am. I need nothing of what I have. I'll have satisfaction only in having you, Maureen.

MAUREEN. And when you had me before—what was it you were needing then—wasn't it the possessions you do be enjoying now?

MICHAEL. I tell you I don't enjoy them. You said yourself you weren't liking them. (Recklessly) No more do I—I'll have none of them. (His voice filling with excitement) We'll be setting out from here, now, owning nothing but our two selves.

MAUREEN. No, Michael!

MICHAEL (unheeding). We'll taste adventure together. Oh, 'twill be a fine story we'll be living, with us watching the stars, and eating our food under hedges, and its free I'll be! Free to love you as when you did used to come to me on my farm, creeping out at the first blink of dawn, ere the mists were off the lake; or gliding out—a shadow among shadows—at the fall of night.

MAUREEN. We can't go the roads together, Michael.

MICHAEL. (brought to earth). Why not? 'Tis the way of life has your respect—

MAUREEN. 'Tis not the way of life for yourself, Michael—'tis the hard way. You'd never face up to it.

MICHAEL. I can face up to what a woman faces—or—or Sean O'Connor faces.

MAUREEN. Once, long ago, you could perhaps, but not now. (Explaining gently) Once you're denying your instincts they do be growing helpless to uphold you, Michael.

MICHAEL (in sudden fear). You're coming along with me, Maureen? Be saying you'll come along with me!

MAUREEN. I can't go along with you, Michael.

MICHAEL (pitifully). Am I to have nothing that delights me? Is there nothing for all my years of work and contriving save only a stretch of empty days? Be done talking, Maureen, and let you come with me, for in spite of your rough words you're still in my blood.

MAUREEN (slowly). I'm thinking love has its dwelling place not only in the blood, Michael, but in the mind itself. 'Tis the way the mind sees a body, does be warming or chilling the blood. For there you stand before me, Michael, the man I'm one time thinking it splendour to have and death to be reft of, the way when you left me I was like a bird blown far on the wind with never a sight of its own green land, and the sun was blotted out and a strange face grew on the moon itself. Then the wonder left the light, and it was dark...Then the beauty of the world meant only pain, and the flowers of my mind all turned to weeds, and I each year dreading the spring—become a torment to my heart an' it crying its lonesomeness to empty spaces, an empty world.

MICHAEL. You'll be lonesome no more, Maureen, for I'm telling you, 'tis yourself has all my love.

MAUREEN. And I'm telling you, Michael, love lives not in the heart alone, but in the mind itself. For here you stand before me, willing to take me, and here I stand, destroyed with the knowledge that to feel your arms about me would be bringing my heart fluttering up to my throat, the like of a little trembling bird, not with love, as before, but with hate enough to strike you dead.

MICHAEL (shocked). Maureen!

MAUREEN. Sad and terrible it is to think, Michael, that a love strong as death can pass away before death. Sad and terrible it is, Michael, to be knowing the thing you prized beyond all, lives to show itself less than most.

MICHAEL. Whist! Whist, woman! Be done your humbugging...'tis like all the rest you are. You'd have joined me quick and gladly had I not invited ye to come walking the roads, but driving my car to a destiny of splendid living and raining gold—

MAUREEN. Not all the gold of the leprechaun would be enough.

MICHAEL. Oh, you'd have come quick and gladly then. You're like all the rest, sneering at gold when others has it, and doting on it for yourselt. All I have built up round me is useless, trash only, to be cast aside, you say, but when you your own self is nearing to lose something, 'tis a different story then. You don't think gladly of leaving this house or the few red coppers is in your purse. For having them once the taste for them grows.

MAUREEN (simply). Indeed it does, Michael. 'Tis loving this little houseen I am more dearly than many a queen loves her palace. But if it wasn't cleanly we came by it—

MICHAEL. You'd be giving it up, is it?

MAUREEN (simply). What else could I do? For I'm knowing money isn't worth its price when its making us cruel—or hard—

MICHAEL (roughly). Let you be making your mind easy on that score, for you'll not be put to the test.

MAUREEN (in horror). You mean—

MICHAEL. I mean I'm seeing you're no fit mate for myself, so I'll be gone now before your true fella comes walking in.

MAUREEN. Why should he be coming so early...lest...lest—(keenly) you've flung him out?

MICHAEL. I've done so.

MAUREEN (aghast and weeping). Oh, must you always bring desolation?...Has pity for yourself made you so fierce you'd ruin the world?

MICHAEL (hard). Ay, ruin the world and all in it. (She sobs.) Keen away for a set of walls and a small thatch to them. 'Twas little you cared for my need and I coming asking alms of love like a beggar man.

MAUREEN. Oh, Michael—couldn't you have let us alone? Must you begrudge me my share of happiness?

MICHAEL. Let you cease your lamentations now you've chosen. you refused my road, now you can be going his.

MAUREEN (controlling her tears). Leave me, Michael—I—I—

MICHAEL. Ay, I'll leave you, and leave my curse upon you, too. May bitter bad luck attend you from this out.

MAUREEN. Michael!

MICHAEL. 'Tis out the roads you'll be from now till you die, and you getting old the way you'll be losing your fine looks and wailing all times you lacked gumption to know what time you were well off.

MAUREEN (wildly). Be not trying to ease your hurt by hurting me. Go now before another word, for all your words are knives will be finding your own heart.

MICHAEL. 'Tis on the roads you'll be, the way there'll never be the day but I'll be saying, and I sitting down to a warm splendid meal, 'tis cold she is and hungry, maybe, and her with no teeth left in her gums for the small bite or sup she can beg, crawling from door to door, the like of a sick animal no one fancies. For well I know the treatment meted out to the poor; they'll hunt you away like they hunt a fox does be after their hens.

MAUREEN. No more! you are building up a memory to torment ye the length of your days.

MICHAEL (relentlessly). You'll be on the roads. And there'll never be the night, when the wind howls and the skies is a black threat above the earth, but I'll be thinking, and I snug and warm in my bed, thinking of you with no hole or corner to call your own, and you old and the fright of the world, and maybe getting your death in some windy ditch. You once so proud—and—and—lovely—(His voice breaks, he calls on her despairingly) Maureen!

MAUREEN (wildly). Go! Go!

MICHAEL. Maureen!

MAUREEN. Don't touch me—I can stand no morel Go!

(Door slammed. She sobs.

Music. Wails—it ceases suddenly, for:
Thunderclap off.)

SEAN (off, hailing). Maureen! Open the door! (Door opened. He is heard walking on.) Maureen! What's this?—our bundles!—you've readied our bundles?

MAUREEN (tonelessly). Here's yer bundle. We're going the roads agen, alanna!

SEAN. Ye heard what happened at the factory then?

MAUREEN (casually). I said here's yer bundle. 'Tis too long we've been this place.

SEAN. Ye don't know then? (Seeing through her bluff)—Ah!...'Tis a bundle of courage you have, aroon.

MAUREEN. Let you hurry the way we'll get some place ere its dark.

(Thunder louder.)

SEAN. Thunder's breaking over our heads.

MAUREEN. There's a star in the sky still, and the sun will come with another day. (Wind.) And—listen!—the wind does be a sort of song in the trees.

SEAN. A wild song. Still, I've a lining to me pocket will buy us a bed can we come at the village ere night is down.

MAUREEN. There's a hay rick with a half roof to it, between us and there; we'd make better shift in it, I'm thinking.

SEAN. But—

MAUREEN. 'Twon't be the first time we've been snug in the hay, when the night is bitter and the heavens weeping.

SEAN. Let you come then—er—what is it holds you by the door?

MAUREEN (low, with effort) 'Tis uprooting this bit of a rose, I am. Ha! that has it! (Explaining half-shamefully) 'Tis how we may be having a corner to set it in—sometime—maybe. (Brokenly) There must be someplace—somewhere—

SEAN. Maureen 'tis hurting you leaving this house.

MAUREEN. Whist! Must you be dilly-dallying here till the rains come, Sean O'Connor?

SEAN. Have you your rose? Come then—wrap my muffier round it and let ye give me your hand, my rose!

(Door. They are heard leaving the cottage. Feature their footsteps.)

SEAN. 'Tis regret lags in your footsteps, Maureen.

MAUREEN (faltering). 'Tis a stone pricks in my shoe itself.

(Menacing thunder.)

SEAN. I'm thinking this is the dark night for you, aroon, 'tis clouds of storm are in the sky and clouds of sorrow in your heart.

MAUREEN. There's a great joy in my heart this night, Sean O'Connor.

SEAN. Maureen?

MAUREEN. A great and rich and rate joy it is, and I to be walking the face of the earth with the gallantest man on it.

SEAN (in joy). Maureen!

MAUREEN. 'Tis seeing I am the world tarnishes all things.

SEAN (soberly). It does if you let it.

MAUREEN (a little wildly). We've a holt of nothing, so nothing can get a holt of us—

SEAN. No.

MAUREEN. Never!

SEAN. Never!

MAUREEN. Oh...I love you, Sean!

(Swell storm and music. The storm fades. The music: "Rich and Rare Were the Gems She Wore" mounts triumphantly.)


THE END

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