Yeats' FAIRY AND FOLK
TALES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
"Oh, ullagone! ullagone! this is
a wide world, but what will we do in it, or
where will we go?" muttered Bill Doody, as he sat on a rock by the Lake of
Killarney. "What will we do? Tomorrow's rent-day, and Tim the Driver swears if
we don't pay our rent, he'll cant every ha'perth we have; and then sure
enough, there's Judy and myself, and the poor grawls,1
will be turned out to starve on the high-road, for the never
a halfpenny of rent have I!--Oh hone, that ever I should live to see this
Thus did Bill Doody bemoan his hard fate, pouring his sorrows to the reckless
waves of the most beautiful of lakes, which seemed to mock his misery as they
rejoiced beneath the cloudless sky of a May morning. That lake, glittering in
sunshine, sprinkled with fairy isles of rock and verdure, and bounded by giant
hills of ever-varying hues, might, with its magic beauty, charm all sadness but
despair; for alas,
"How ill the scene that offers rest
Yet Bill Doody was not
so desolate as he supposed; there was one listening to him he little thought of,
and help was at hand from a quarter he could not have expected.
heart that cannot rest agree!"
"What's the matter with you, my poor man?" said a tall, portly-looking
gentleman, at the same time stepping out of a furze-brake. Now Bill was seated
on a rock that commanded the view of a large field. Nothing in the field could
be concealed from him, except this furze-brake, which grew in a hollow near the
margin of the lake. He was, therefore, not a little surprised at the gentleman's
sudden appearance, and began to question whether the personage before him
belonged to this world or not. He, however, soon mustered courage sufficient to
tell him how his crops had failed, how some bad member had charmed away his
butter, and how Tim the Driver threatened to turn him out of the farm if he
didn't pay up every penny of the rent by twelve o'clock next day.
"A sad story, indeed," said the stranger; "but surely, if you represented the
case to your landlord's agent, he won't have the heart to turn you out."
"Heart, your honour; where would an agent get a heart!" exclaimed Bill. "I
see your honour does not know him; besides, he has an eye on the farm this long
time for a fosterer of his own; so I expect no mercy at all, only to be turned
"Take this, my poor fellow, take this," said the stranger, pouring a purse
full of gold into Bill's old hat, which in his grief he had flung on the ground.
"Pay the fellow your rent, but I'll take care it shall do him no good. I
remember the time when things went otherwise in this country, when I would have
hung up such a fellow in the twinkling of an eye!"
These words were lost upon Bill, who was insensible to everything but the
sight of the gold, and before he could unfix his gaze, and lift up his head to
pour out his hundred thousand blessings, the stranger was gone. The
bewildered peasant looked around in search of his benefactor, and at last he thought he
saw him riding on a white horse a long way off on the lake.
"O'Donoghue, O'Donoghue!" shouted Bill; "the good, the blessed
and he ran capering like a madman to show Judy the gold, and to rejoice her
heart with the prospect of wealth and happiness.
The next day Bill proceeded to the agent's; not sneakingly, with his hat in
his hand, his eyes fixed on the ground, and his knees bending under him; but
bold and upright, like a man conscious of his independence.
"Why don't you take off your hat, fellow? don't you know you are speaking to
a magistrate?" said the agent.
"I know I'm not speaking to the king, sir," said Bill; "and I never takes off
my hat but to them I can respect and love. The Eye that sees all knows I've no
right either to respect or love an agent!"
"You scoundrel!" retorted the man in office, biting his lips with rage at
such an unusual and unexpected opposition, 'I'll teach you how to be insolent
again; I have the power, remember."
"To the cost of the country, I know you have," said Bill, who still remained
with his head as firmly covered as if he was Lord Kingsale himself.
"But come," said the magistrate; "have you got the money for me? this is
rent-day. If there's one penny of it wanting, or the running gale that's due,
prepare to turn out before night, for you shall not remain another hour in
"There is your rent," said Bill, with an unmoved expression of tone and
countenance; "you'd better count it, and give me a receipt in full for the
running gale and all."
The agent gave a look of amazement at the gold; for it was gold--real
guineas! and not bits of dirty ragged small notes, that are not fit to light
one's pipe with. However willing the agent may have been to ruin, as he thought,
the unfortunate tenant, he took up the gold, and handed the receipt to Bill,
who strutted off with it as proud as a cat of her
The agent going to his desk shortly after, was confounded at beholding a heap
of gingerbread cakes instead of the money he had deposited there. He raved and
swore, but all to no purpose; the gold had become gingerbread cakes, just marked
like the guineas, with the king's head; and Bill had the receipt in his pocket;
so he saw there was no use in saying anything about the affair, as he would only
get laughed at for his pains.
From that hour Bill Doody grew rich; all his undertakings prospered; and he
often blesses the day that he met with O'Donoghue, the great prince that fives
down under the lake of Killarney.