Yeats' FAIRY AND FOLK
TALES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
THE LONG SPOON1
The devil and the hearth-money
collector for Bantry set out one summer
morning to decide a bet they made the night before over a jug of punch. They
wanted to see which would have the best load at sunset, and neither was to pick
up anything that wasn't offered with the good-will of the giver. They passed by
a house, and they heard the poor ban-a-t'yee2 cry out to her
lazy daughter, "Oh, musha ------ take you for
a lazy sthronsuch3 of a girl! do you intend to get up today?" "Oh, oh," says
the taxman, "there's a job for you, Nick." "Ovock," says the other, "it wasn't
from her heart she said it; we must pass on." The next cabin they were passing,
the woman was on the bawnditch4 crying out to her husband that was mending one of his
brogues inside: "Oh, tattheration to you, Nick! you never rung them pigs, and
there they are in the potato drills rootin' away; the ------ run to Lusk with
them." "Another windfall for you," says the man of the inkhorn, but the old
thief shook his horns and wagged his tail. So they went on, and ever so many
prizes were offered to the black fellow without him taking one. Here it was a
gorsoon playing marvels when he should be using his clappers in the corn-field;
and then it was a lazy drone of a servant asleep with his face to the sod when
he ought to be weeding. No one thought of offering the hearth-money man even a
drink of butter-milk, and at last the sun was within half a foot of the edge of
Cooliagh. They were just then passing Monamolin, and a poor woman that was
straining her supper in a skeeoge outside her cabin-door, seeing the two
standing at the bawn gate, bawled out, "Oh, here's the hearth-money man--run
away wid him." "Got a bite at last," says Nick. "Oh, no, no! it wasn't
from her heart," says the collector.
"Indeed, an' it was from the very foundation-stones it came. No help for
misfortunes; in with you," says he, opening the mouth of his big black bag; and
whether the devil was ever after seen taking the same walk or not, nobody ever
laid eyes on his fellow-traveller again.
1. Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts.
2. Woman of the house.
3. It. strÅinse--i.e., a lazy thing.
4. Ir. bÃ¡dhun--i.e., enclosure, or wall round a house. From ba,
cows, and dÃºn, a fortress. Properly, cattle-fortress.