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CHARACTERS

MARTIN O’FLYNN A Resident Magistrate
CORNELIUS JOHN MICHAEL O’CROWLEY A New Justice of the Peace
PHELAN DUFFY A Barrister-at-Law
BRENNAN CASSIDY A Solicitor
PETER DWYER Clerk of the Petty Sessions Court
RICHARD FENNELL
MARGARET FENNELL Wife of Richard Fennell
SERGEANT HEALY A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary
CONSTABLE O’RYAN A Member of the R.I.C.
CONSTABLE MCCARTHY A Member of the R.I.C.

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

Scene: Room in courthouse at Ballybraggan. Magistrates and clerk of court seated on the Bench. Barristers, townspeople, and police in body of the court.

MARTIN O’FLYNN (rises and wipes his brow with a red handkerchief) Members of the Munster Bar, Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and gentlemen (pauses), and ladies also, before the Court opens for the dispensation of justice, I would like to say a few short words about a matter that concerns not only ourselves here present, and the town of Ballybraggan in particular, but everybody alive to their own interests and the whole world in general. We have with us to-day one who is no stranger to the people of this historic town, and it is with feelings of the highest regard that I stand before you in my privileged capacity as resident magistrate to perform what seems to me to be the most pleasing and likewise the most joyous of duties that could fall to the lot of any man, whether he might come from where the waves of the tumultuous Pacific wash the shores of the great Western world or from the town of Mallow itself. And that is to have the honor and glorification of introducing to you our new and worthy magistrate, Mr. Cornelius John Michael O’Crowley. (Applause) Far be it from me indeed to flatter any man, but there are times when we must tell the truth. (Applause) And when I say that there is no one more humble for a man of his achievements from here to Honolulu than Mr. O’Crowley himself, I am only telling the truth in a plain and unadorned form. Every effort put forth by Mr. O’Crowley for the welfare of mankind has been characterised by success, and what greater proof of his ability could we have than the fact that he is one of the largest wine merchants and hotel proprietors in the length and breadth of Munster? Indeed, if Mr. O’Crowley wasn’t fully qualified for upholding and sustaining the dignity of the coveted title, Justice of the Peace, His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, who is both a scholar, a gentleman, and a Scotchman to boot, would not be so pleased and delighted to confer on him an honor only worthy of a man of his attainments, sentiments, and quality of character. (Applause)

PHELAN DUFFY On behalf of the legal profession of which I have the honor of being the oldest member, I am not only desirous but extremely overjoyed to have the golden opportunity of congratulating our worthy townsman Mr. Cornelius John Michael O’Crowley on the great distinction that has befallen him. We all have heard of that Englishman who said one time, with all the cleverness of an Irishman and a native of Ballybraggan at that: “Some are born great, others acquire greatness, and more have greatness thrust upon them.” Now to say that Mr. O’Crowley had greatness thrust upon him would not be a fact, and whether or not he was born great we don’t know, but one thing is certain, and that is, he has acquired greatness. And when I say so, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not talking idly or glibly, but with all the sincerity of my heart. With the same sincerity that has characterised all my actions since I was first called to the Bar, and made of me what I am to-day. With the same sincerity that characterises every successful member of the legal profession, be he Irish, Scotch, or American. Let critics say what they will, but the fact remains that success is the best answer to adverse criticism. A man’s true worth may not always be appreciated in a cold and heartless world like ours, but there will ever be found a few who can always sympathise with us in our sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs. And Mr. O’Crowley has the rare gift which enables him to do both. (Applause) He is a man of large and noble ideals, of sterling qualities and knows human nature in all its many phases. He knows the wants of the people and what’s more, he knows how to satisfy them. He would not allow any man’s light to be hidden under a bushel, so to speak, and why should we allow the bushel to bide his? (Applause) Let credit be given where credit is due, was ever his motto. And only one month has elapsed since he said to me, after defending his own brother on a breach of the Sunday Closing Act in this very courthouse, “My heartiest thanks and warmest congratulations for your splendid victory. There isn’t another man in the whole country, not even Tim Healy himself, who could win that case.”

SERGEANT HEALY On behalf of the Royal Irish Constabulary, I wish to be associated with the hearty and unanimous welcome extended to Mr. O’Crowley, whom I have known since the first night I came to the town. And my only regret is that I did not know him before, because men with his rare traits of character are not to be met with every day. His genial and kindly disposition has endeared him to us all. His doors are never closed on either Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, or any other day. Friend or foe, stranger or native of Ballybraggan, are all the same to Mr. O’Crowley. Each and every one is received with the same hearty welcome. He is a man whom we think of in our hours of suffering, whether it be on the scorching heat of a summer’s day or the blighting cold of a winter’s night. It is my earnest wish, and I am sure that I am only expressing the sentiments of the whole of Munster, that the success which has attended Mr. O’Crowley in all the ventures of his useful life will be doubled in his capacity as Justice of the Peace. (Applause)

PETER DWYER In all the long years that I have acted as clerk of this court, I never felt more pleased at the coming of a new magistrate than when I heard of the discretion of His Excellency in selecting Mr. O’Crowley for this most exalted position. All that I might say in my congratulations and welcome has already been said, and I can only concur in the good wishes that have been offered, and though a lot more might have been said of one so praiseworthy, I know that Mr. O’Crowley will understand, it is not that we like him less but that we respect him more. Mr. O’Crowley is a man who is above pride and does not want the walls of Rome or the stones of the Munster roads to know what he does for mankind. So I will now conclude by wishing him all the success that he deserves, in the future and hereafter.

MR. C. J. M. O’CROWLEY Brother magistrates, members of the Bar, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and gentlemen: From the bottom of my heart I thank you for all the high compliments you have paid me this day, and I only hope that I will be long spared to be a source of comfort and consolation to the men and women of Ballybraggan. I know, of course, that I am not a pararagom of perfection, but I have the wonderful satisfaction of knowing that I have been appreciated in my own time, and that’s more than some of the world’s best poets, philosophers, and other servants of mankind could have said. The superdalliance of some and the pomposity and congential insufficiency of others have always been a warning to me, and when opportunity sallied forth from her hiding place I never failed to recognise her queenly presence and extend a cead-mile-failte, and make of her my own, so to speak. Such was the way of Wellington and his contemporary Hannibal, and such must be the way of every man who must serve his country and himself. And believe me, much as the people of Ballybraggan think about me, I think every bit as much about them. It is hardly necessary for me to say that we only get what we deserve in this world, and sometimes a little more or a little less as the case may be. The desirable propensities of the people of the town have endeared me to them with a spirit as strong as that which makes the ivy cling to the oak, and as we see the ivy fondly clinging to that monarch of trees, whether it sprouts its green leaves in the glorious sunshine or falls to the ground with decay, so will I cling to the people of Ballybraggan. Once again, I thank you, but in conclusion I must say that I will do all in my power to prove worthy of the reliance and confidence placed in me. (Applause)

PETER DWYER The court is now open for the dispensation of justice. The only case before us to-day is one of house-breaking, drunkenness from excessive use of poteen, which is an illegal drink, and resisting arrest by the police. The charge is laid against one Richard Fennell, and cross-summonses have been issued to Mr. and Mrs. Fennell.

PHELAN DUFFY On behalf of my client, Mrs. Fennell, I wish to impress upon the Bench the gravity of the offence with which the accused Richard Fennell is charged, namely, drunkenness from excessive use of an illegal intoxicant known as poteen, house-breaking, terrorizing and almost paralyzing with fear his highly strung and sensitive wife, and adding insult to injury in resisting arrest by his Majesty’s guardian of law and order, Sergeant Healy. These are grave charges indeed, and who will gainsay that a man gifted with the spirit of destruction like Mr. Fennell is a menace to the peace-abiding town of Ballybraggan? Not since the heartless barbarians made their ruthless descent upon the Roman Empire was there such havoc wrought in any one house, or did any individual member of society suffer so much from nervous prostration as Mrs. Fennell.

MR. FENNELL (interrupting) Can’t a man dust his own furniture and chastise his own wife if he feels like doing so?

MR. O’CROWLEY Order! order! There must be no interruptions in this court of justice.

PHELAN DUFFY (continuing) You can well imagine how poor Mrs. Fennell thought that the end of the world was coming when she saw every bit of ware on the kitchen dresser smashed in pieces no larger than threepenny bits on the floor. And the alarm clock that woke Mr. Fennell every morning and reminded him that it was time to get up and make his wife’s breakfast, which she always got in bed, struck dumb for ever with its works battered beyond recognition. Think of this poor woman’s feelings at such an awful moment.

MR. FENNELL (interrupting)
Feelings! She has no more feelings than a tombstone.

PHELAN DUFFY (continuing)
Think of this decent, self-respecting, loving wife and
mother, who has had no less than three husbands.

MRS. FENNELL (interrupting)
An’ I’ll have another too, please God!

PHELAN DUFFY Think, I say, of three husbands, and ten children. Six resting in the little churchyard at Ennisbeg, and four resting in the Royal Irish Constabulary. That Mr. Fennell was what we would call a model husband, before he touched this poteen goes without saying. Everything that his wife told him to do was done, and done to her satisfaction, and done whether he liked the doing of it or no.

MRS. FENNELL (interrupting)
I always made my husbands do what they were told.

PHELAN DUFFY Mr. Fennell is no doubt guilty of a serious offence, but whoever sold him the base liquor is far more guilty in the eyes of the law, as well as the public. Needless to state, this fact does not in any way lessen the gravity of Mr. Fennell’s offence, and I would ask the Bench not to allow any feelings of sentiment to interfere with the discharge of their duty. I would ask that the severest penalty allowed be inflicted on the accused for his unwarranted, unmanly, and blackguardly conduct.

MRS. FENNELL (to Phelan Duffy) Wisha, bad luck to your impudence to call my husband a bla’gard. A dacent man that never went to the likes of you or any one else for anything.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order, order.

MRS. FENNELL ’Tis only the likes of lawyers that have the insolence to insult dacent people. Sure when they aren’t ignorant they’re consated, and their wives and daughters are no better than themselves.

MR. O’CROWLEY Order, order. Unless you behave yourself, you must be placed under arrest.

MRS. FENNELL Sure, you don’t think I can stand here with a tongue in me head and listen to me husband being insulted, do you?

PETER DWYER
Order, order, Mrs. Fennell, please.

[She attempts to speak again, and the sergeant places his hand over her mouth. She resents this action, and in a struggle which ensues the sergeant falls to the floor. He is helped to his feet by Mrs. Fennell, and both look at each other in a scornful way.

SERGEANT HEALY (to Mrs. Fennell)
’Tis a good job for you that you’re not Mrs. Healy.

MRS. FENNELL
And ’tis a blessing for you that you’re not Mr. Fennell.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order, order. This conduct is scandalous, Mrs. Fennell,
and you must keep quiet.

MR. FENNELL
You might as well be asking a whale to whistle “The
Last Rose of Summer” or asking the Kaiser to become
a Trappist monk.

PETER DWYER
Order, order. Now please, Mrs. Fennell, come forward
and give your evidence.

MRS. FENNELL All I have to say is that my husband got the delirium tramens from drinking poteen and broke every bit of furniture in the house, an’ he might have killed myself.

MR. FENNELL (very disgusted)
I wish I knew how.

MRS. FENNELL (continuing) Only for having the good sense of rushing to the front door and shouting for the police. I’m an orphan, your Worship, and that’s why I’m here to seek protection from the court. All the same, I haven’t a word to say to my husband, the cowardly ruffian, only for his love of poteen, bad temper, and contrary ways.

MR. O’CROWLEY
That will do, Mrs. Fennell.

MRS. FENNELL
Thanks, your Worship.

SERGEANT HEALY (takes out his notebook. A day pipe, box of snuff, and handkerchief fall to the floor. The snuff falls on the handkerchief. He replaces the snuff box and the pipe in his pocket, and wipes his face with the snuffy handkerchief. He then opens his notebook for reference and begins) On the night of December third sneezes and says: God bless us!) I was on me rounds doin’ beat duty in Market Square in the town of Ballybraggan (Sneezes) God bless us! and all of a sudden without a moment’s notice, I was disturbed from me reverie of pious thought, be a great disturbance like the falling of porter barrels from the top floor of a brewery, and without saying as much as the Lord protect me, I swung to me left from whence the noise came and beheld Mrs. Fennell (Sneeze) God bless us! rushing out of her own house the way you’d see a wild Injun rushing in the moving pictures and shouting like a circus lion before his breakfast: “Police! police! police!” An’ as though it was the will of Providence, I was in the very place where me presence was required.

MRS. FENNELL
Accidents will happen, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
They will, and disasters too, if you don’t hold your
tongue.

PETER DWYER
Order, order.

SERGEANT HEALY (continuing) Well, in with me to the house without a moment’s delay, and what did I see but Richard Fennell sitting in an easy chair and smoking a cigar and looking as happy an’ contented as a Protestant after a meal of corn beef and cabbage on a Friday. An’ the house, the Lord save us! one would think that ’twas struck be a cyclone. The only thing that remained whole was the chair that he sat in and the decanter that fed the broken glass from which he drank the poteen. “What brings you here?” ses he, to me. An’ only I had the presence of mind of clapping the handcuffs on him before I had time to answer such an impertinent question, there might be one more above in the old churchyard and one less in this court of justice. (Sneezes) God bless us! The story is nearly ended. (Sneezes) God bless us! I (Sneezes) God bless us! I (Waits for an expected sneeze and when disappointed he says “Thank God!”) I brought the prisoner to the barrack and have here the poteen that changed him from a law-abiding townsman into a fiend incarnate. (The sergeant then places the bottle of poteen on the counter, looks very hard at it, pretends to faint from sudden weakness, and asks for a drink of water) Can I have a little water, if you please? [Several rush to assist him. There is no water in the court, and the clerk gets the kind of inspiration that the sergeant desires and fetches the poteen. He pours some out in a glass and gives it to the sergeant.

PETER DWYER (to the sergeant) Try a little drop of the spirits, Sergeant, as there isn’t a drop of water to be had. The plumbers are working at the pipes.

SERGEANT (softly) Bad luck to them for plumbers. They are always a nuisance. (Before putting glass to his lips) I suppose I must take it, because I am dry as a bona-fide traveller. (He finishes it all in one drink) It doesn’t taste too bad after all, and water at its best isn’t much good for one who must do a lot of talking. I’ll have a little more, if you please.

MR. O’CROWLEY You can’t have any more, Sergeant. That would be abusing your privilege.

SERGEANT HEALY (softly) Alright, your Worship. When a man’s as full of the law as meself, ’tis hard to remember when he’s privileged. [The sergeant recovers and the case proceeds.

BRENNAN CASSIDY (for Mr. Fennell) On behalf of my client, Mr. Fennell, I wish to point out the absurdity of the charges brought against him. For no reason whatever and without a moment’s warning, the sergeant rushed into his house without an invitation or observing the laws of common propriety by ringing the bell, and ruthlessly placed handcuffs on Mr. Fennell and marched him off to prison like a common felon. And not a shadow of evidence as to misbehavior against him except the statements of his wife about the breaking of some furniture. Now, let us suppose that Mr. Fennell did break the furniture. Was not that his own affair? The furniture was his property, and he could do with it as he pleased. Perhaps he did not like the manner in which it was designed, and Mr. Fennell, mistaking his aversion for things not in keeping with his artistic ideals, came to the conclusion that he was only on a voyage of destruction when he merely was proving how little of the philistine there was in his nature by removing from his home such articles as did not harmonize with his conception of the beautiful. The fact that the whole affair happened so hastily only goes to prove that Mr. Fennell has the artistic temperament.

MRS. FENNELL
The artistic temperament, my dear! What next!

MR. CASSIDY The idea of doing away with the furniture, which Mr. Fennell emphatically states he disliked, and what greater proof of the fact could we have than his action in destroying it? came to him like an inspiration, and being a true artist he seized the opportunity, and the world was made all the lovelier by the riddance of ugly things. I think, in fact, I know that I have proved that the charge of house-breaking is absurd. (Takes out his watch, holds it in the palm of his left hand) This watch is mine, and if I should choose to smash it into a thousand fragments, who is there to prevent me? What power has the law over such matters? None whatever. Well, it would be just as ridiculous and absurd to punish my client for smashing his own furniture, which he purchased with his own hard earned money, as to punish me for smashing this watch if I should feel like doing so. (Applause, which is suppressed) To charge Mr. Fennell with drinking poteen is equally absurd. He does not know what poteen tastes like. The idea of taking a decanter and a bottle of whiskey out of any gentleman’s house without his permission is tyranny of the very worst kind. It is a grievous offence in the eyes of the law as well as a breach of etiquette. What, might I ask, would happen if any of us were to break into His Worship’s hotel and steal, or take if you will, some choice samples of his wines? Would we not find ourselves in a prison cell? Most assuredly we would, and what’s more, our good name would be gone forever. The finger of scorn would be pointed at our children and our children’s children, and posterity would never forget us.

MRS. FENNELL
’Tis only worse he’s getting.

PETER DWYER
Order, order.

MR. CASSIDY There is only one course for the Bench to adopt, and that is to discharge Mr. Fennell. He has already suffered enough and any one with such a ballyragging, unreasonable, unladylike, and headstrong wife deserves our sympathy.

MR. FENNELL (with indignation) Mr. Cassidy, sir. How dare you stand up there in my presence and insult my wife! You’re no gentleman, sir. Remember when you offend my wife, you offend me. Do you hear that?

MR. O’CROWLEY This conduct is obstreperonious, Mr. Fennell. Mr. Cassidy is a gentleman, and he must not be either insulted or interrupted, while he is judiciously discharging the duties of his high office.

MRS. FENNELL (sighs) Oh, God help us! The world must be turned upside down when a lawyer can be a gentleman.

MR. O’CROWLEY Hold your tongue, woman, or I’ll order you to be arrested for contempt of court.

MR. FENNELL The next man who says a word to my wife must fight me.

[Buttons his coat.

PHELAN DUFFY (to the magistrates) The Bench must make due allowances for the excitement of the moment.

MR. O’CROWLEY Of course, of course, Mr. Duffy, but we must not have a reoccurrence of such conduct.

MR. FENNELL Meself and herself pulled together all these long years, and I’ll be damned if I’ll allow any one to say a word to her.

[Mrs. Fennell places a handkerchief to her eyes and commences to cry.

MR. O’CROWLEY Order, order, this is a court of justice, and the case must proceed without further interruption or the strictest measures of the law will be adhered to. (Pauses, speaks to the police) Any one who interrupts me while I’m speaking must be ejected from the court.

SERGEANT HEALY
Your Worship’s orders will be obeyed.

MR. O’CROWLEY Now, it was with the greatest of interest that I have listened to the speeches pro and con for the prisoner and never before or since have I heard such logic and eloquence as was used in this court of justice to-day. I am nearly sure, in fact I’m certain, that since the days when Marcus Anthony delivered his matchless orations before the proud and haughty Egyptians, did such wisdom flow from the lips of any man. By the judicious application of words and logic we have learnt what uses can be made of the law of the land, and though our reason may convince us and our conscience too, that right is right and wrong is wrong, yet, the law’s the law for all that, and we are Justices of the Peace and must respect the law and abide by it. Mr. Duffy has clearly proved to us how drink, especially bad and illegal drink, like poteen, can change a man from a law-abiding, self-respecting, and obedient husband into a demon and a housebreaker. And Mr. Cassidy has also clearly proven on the other hand how that same drink can change a man from the ordinary humdrum things of life and turn his mind to noble ideals, and make of him an artist and an inspired one at that. Now science has proved to us that in every one man there are two men, the artist, if I might be permitted to use the term, and the house-breaker. But as the two men are only one man, and the artist is the better of the two, then to the artist let us pay our respects, and dismiss the charge of house-breaking.

MRS. FENNELL (sadly) Ah, God help us! The town will be full of artists when the militia comes home.

MR. O’CROWLEY The charge of house-breaking then will be dismissed, but I must impose a heavy fine and sentence for using the illegal intoxicant, poteen.

MR. CASSIDY Will your Worship be good enough before passing sentence to make sure that the liquor is poteen?

MR. O’CROWLEY We have it on the testimony of the sergeant that it is poteen.

MR. CASSIDY But with all due respect to the court, we cannot convict any one on such evidence. What does the sergeant know about poteen?

SERGEANT HEALY (indignantly) What do I know about poteen, is it? How dare you, sir? Was there a better maker of poteen in the County Cork than my own father, rest his soul!

MR. O’CROWLEY Now, isn’t that evidence enough for you? Does the sergeant look like a man who doesn’t know the difference between a good and a bad drop of whiskey?

MR. CASSIDY (sarcastically) I beg your Worship’s pardon. But my client states that the evidence is insufficient, and if he should be convicted, he will bring the case before the Four Courts of Dublin.

SERGEANT HEALY He can bring it to the four courts of Jericho, if he likes, but that stuff in the bottle is poteen all the same.

MARTIN O’FLYNN As Mr. Fennel is so dogmatic about this liquor not being poteen, why does he not tell us where and from whom he purchased it? (To the sergeant) Are you sure, Sergeant Healy, that this liquor is poteen?

SERGEANT HEALY As well as I remember the taste of it, your Worship, it is. But perhaps ’twould be better to make sure and try again.

MARTIN O’FLYNN
Try again, then.

SERGEANT HEALY
Very well.

[Pours out a little and drinks it, smacks his lips, but says nothing.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Well, Sergeant, what is it?

MARTIN O’FLYNN
Is it or is it not poteen?

SERGEANT HEALY
I don’t get the flavor of it yet.

[Takes another drop.

MR. O’CROWLEY
What is it, Sergeant, poteen or just bad whiskey?

SERGEANT HEALY Bedad, ’tis hard to tell. Sometimes I think ’tis poteen, and sometimes I think it isn’t. But whatever it is, it isn’t so good as the stuff me poor father used to brew. Maybe the constable could tell us. He comes from Castletownballymacreedy, where they make the best poteen in Ireland.

[Hands a glassful to the constable.

CONSTABLE O’RYAN (after drinking) There’s not a shadow of a doubt about it being poteen, your Worship, and as fine a drop as I have tasted for many a long day.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Are you satisfied now, Mr. Cassidy?

MR. CASSIDY
I think it would be as well to have the opinion of some
one else.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Constable McCarthy, let you take a toothful out of
that decanter and tell us what it is.

CONSTABLE MCCARTHY
Though I am a League of the Cross man, I suppose as
a matter of duty I must break me pledge.

[Pours out a glassful and drinks.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Well, what is it?

CONSTABLE MCCARTHY
Poteen, your Worship.

MR. O’CROWLEY Now we have conclusive evidence that this liquor is poteen, and no more serious charge could be brought against any man than to be found guilty of using such obnoxious stuff by a court of justice. As with the law of nature, so with the law of the land. He who transgresses any of nature’s laws gets duly punished according to the nature of his offence. And so also with the law of the country. Mr. Fennell must be punished, and his punishment must serve as an example to others and

MR. CASSIDY I beg your Worship’s pardon. We do not always get punished for disobeying the laws of nature. Nature’s strongest force is self-assertion, and excessive self-assertion is vanity, and vanity is sinful, and

MARTIN O’FLYNN
You must excuse me interrupting you, Mr. Cassidy,
but that train of argument cannot be followed here.

We have proved that poteen was found in the prisoner’s house, and if he did not make it himself, where then did he get it from?

MR. CASSIDY Mr. Fennel emphatically denies having anything to do with the making of the liquor found on his premises. And so far it has not been proved to either his or my satisfaction that the intoxicant is poteen.

MR. O’CROWLEY Does your client mean for a moment to cast a reflection on the police of this town, and insinuate that they don’t know what poteen is?

MR. CASSIDY We are not satisfied with the decision of the police, your Worship.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Very well then, we’ll give it a further test.

[Gives the decanter to the clerk, Peter Dwyer.

PETER DWYER (after tasting it) If that’s not poteen, may I never wet my lips with it again.

MR. O’CROWLEY (to Mr. Cassidy)
Perhaps you are satisfied now.

MR. CASSIDY
No, I am not.

MARTIN O’FLYNN
Well, taste it yourself and tell us what it is.

MR. CASSIDY (tastes it)
Whatever it is, it is not poteen.

MARTIN O’FLYNN (pours out some in a glass) I’ll soon settle the question. (Drinks) That’s poteen, and good poteen too.

MR. CASSIDY
I beg to disagree with your Worship.

MARTIN O’FLYNN How dare you disagree with me, sir, and I drinking poteen every day of my life. I’d resign my seat on the Bench rather than suffer to be insulted in such a manner again.

MR. CASSIDY
I apologise. Nothing could be further from my
thought than offence.

MARTIN O’FLYNN I’m glad to hear you say so, because when I said that the liquor in the decanter was poteen, I knew what I was talking about. Unless the prisoner tells us how he procured this illegal drink, he will be imprisoned for six months.

MR. FENNELL
For six months, is it?

MARTIN O’FLYNN Yes, for six long months, and you must find bail for your good behavior at the end of the term for a period of twelve months.

MR. FENNELL Well, as you are so anxious to know where I procured the stuff that you have certified to be poteen, I have great pleasure in telling you that it was purchased at Mr. Cornelius John Michael O’Crowley’s establishment under the name of Scotch whiskey, and if there is any doubt about the matter, I can show you some of his own sealed bottles with the same stuff in them.

MR. O’CROWLEY
The saints protect us! What a vile fabrication!

MRS. FENNELL
Ah, you old hypocrite, ’tis about time that you were
found out.

MR. O’CROWLEY Place that woman under arrest for contempt of court. (Mrs. Fennell is placed in the dock) Now, Mrs. Fennell, anything that you will say will be used in evidence against you, so I warn you to hold your tongue and keep quiet.

MRS. FENNELL
I’ll try and keep quiet, your Worship.

MR. O’CROWLEY Gentlemen, I regret to state that a mistake has occurred somewhere, and there’s nothing more plentiful than mistakes. They commenced long ago in the Garden of Eden, and they are as inevitable as the day and night, as inevitable, I might say, as America itself. Yes, some one has blundered, as Napoleon said when he woke up and found himself a prisoner on St. Helena. Mr. Fennell, alas! has erred, but to err is human, and to forgive is divine. We are reasonable people, and we must treat this matter in a reasonable manner. The prisoner has stated that he purchased poteen at my premises, but what reliance can we place on the word of a man who is addicted to drinking poteen? None whatever. We have only the prisoner’s word that the poteen was purchased at my establishment, but the probability is that he was only suffering from its ill effects when he imagined that I was the one who supplied it. Though I’m very sorry indeed to have anything to say against Mr. Fennell, his word cannot be taken as evidence, and the case will be dismissed. (Applause, which is suppressed) The dignity of the court must be upheld, and the next person who applauds will be ejected.

[Mr. Fennett is dismissed and Mrs. Fennett placed in the dock. She goes through the usual ordeal of swearing, and Mr. O’Crowley tries her case.

MR. O’CROWLEY For contempt of court, Mrs. Fennell, you will be fined ten pounds, and you will be bound to the peace for twelve months, and you must give two securities of fifty pounds each, or go to jail for a term of six months with hard labor. And anything that you may say after the sentence of the court has been passed, of a disparaging nature to the Bench, will be considered as a necessity for further punishment. I hope that I have made myself perfectly clear.

MRS. FENNELL Yes, your Worship, you have made yourself perfectly clear. (Starts to cry) Oh, what will I do at all? Is there no one to go bail for me? (Mr. Fennell looks like one who is trying to come to a decision, and Mrs. Fennell starts to cry again) Is it the way that ye’ll be having me taken to the county jail for doing nothing at all? Oh, wisha, who’s going to go bail for me? Maybe ’tis yourself, Mr. O’Crowley.

MR. FENNELL (walking up to the dock) And I here, is it? Not for likely. I’ll go bail for you, of course.

CURTAIN