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CHARACTERS

PATCHA CREMIN (nicknamed NAPOLEON) A carpenter
NEDSERS BROPHY (nicknamed BOULANGER) A mason
DANNUX TOUHY (nicknamed THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON) A mason
MRS. FENNESSEY A lodging-house keeper

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

Scene: Bedroom in a country lodging house. There is one narrow bed and two chairs in the room, and a picture of Robert Emmet hangs on the wall. Patcha Cremin is lying in bed with his head covered. A loud knocking is heard at the door.

PATCHA (startled, uncovers his head and looks about him. The knocking continues) Who’s there? (Thinking for a moment that he is at home and that his wife is calling) Oh, is that you, Ellie?

MRS. FENNESSEY (from without)
It is not Ellie, then.

PATCHA (not yet properly awake)
And who is it?

MRS. FENNESSEY
’Tis me.

PATCHA (angrily)
And who the blazes are you?

MRS. FENNESSEY
Mrs. Fennessey, your landlady.

PATCHA
Oh, yes! Of course, Mrs. Fennessey, excuse me,
ma’am. I thought I was at home and that my wife
was callin’ me to get up to go to work.

MRS. FENNESSEY
Are you in bed yet?

PATCHA
I am, ma’am.

MRS. FENNESSEY
When are you going to get up?

PATCHA
Why?

MRS. FENNESSEY
I want to say a few words to you.

PATCHA
I’m not feelin’ too well, at all, to-day, and don’t
know when I’ll be able to get up, ma’am.

MRS. FENNESSEY
Don’t you, indeed?

PATCHA
No, I don’t, ma’am.

MRS. FENNESSEY
Well then, if you’re in bed and covered up, may I
come in?

PATCHA (draws the clothes about him)
You can, ma’am.

MRS. FENNESSEY (enters, stands in front of the bed and looks at Patcha) And might I ask what’s the matter with you?

PATCHA Oh, I don’t exactly know, at all. I have a queer shaky feelin’ runnin’ down the spine and all over me. It must be the ’fluenza or maybe appendicitis, I’m thinkin’.

MRS. FENNESSEY Well, if that’s the case, you’ll get up this very instant and clear out of my house, for I don’t want a sick man on my hands. And you that didn’t pay me a farthin’ of rent for this last six weeks.

PATCHA Didn’t I promise to pay you a week over and above when I’d get a job? And this is the gratitute you’re showin’ me now for my kindness.

MRS. FENNESSEY
What a lot of good your promises would do for any
one. I want my rent, and you can keep your promises.

PATCHA Is it the way you’d be after turnin’ a sick man from your door a cold freezin’ day like this? And the snow thirty inches thick on the Galtee Mountains, and the air itself nearly frozen hard.

MRS. FENNESSEY ’Tis you’re the nice sick man, indeed, with muscles on you like a statue or a prize fighter, and an appetite like an elephant. God knows then, you should be ashamed of yourself for nearly eating me out of house and home, and I a poor widow dependin’ on the likes of you for a livin.’ ’Tis I that wouldn’t like to be the mother of a man such as yourself, God forgive you!

PATCHA I’m surprised at a dacent woman like you, Mrs. Fennessey, to stand there abusin’ me for my misfortune instead of bringin’ me up a good warm breakfast to nourish my wastin’ frame, and encourage the good spirits to come back to my heart.

MRS. FENNESSEY I’m sick and tired of listenin’ to you and your excuses, but I’m not goin’ to listen to them any longer. So pack up and get out, or if you don’t I’ll get my brother Mike to fling you out, and believe me he won’t take long to do it, either.

PATCHA
You’re losin’ all your dacency, Mrs. Fennessey.

MRS. FENNESSEY Thank God for it, if I am then! But I’m gettin’ back my good sense, and I won’t talk or argue any more with you.

PATCHA
You should feel ashamed of yourself, Mrs. Fennessey.

MRS. FENNESSEY Indeed then, I should, for puttin’ up with the likes of you. You’ve got to be out of this house before twelve o’clock to-morrow and remember I mean what I say.

[She walks out and slams the door. Patcha sits up in bed, rearranges the bedclothes, then places his hand under his chin, and wrinkles his brow. Remains that way until he is disturbed by a knock at the door

MRS. FENNESSEY (opens, and holds the door ajar) There’s a gentleman wants to see you.

PATCHA Who is he? What is he like, and where does he come from?

MRS. FENNESSEY How do I know where he comes from? He wanted to know if Napoleon lived here and I told him there was no one livin’ here at present but one Patcha Cremin. Sure, that’s who I mean, says he. Are you Napoleon?

PATCHA
Yes, I’m Napoleon.

MRS. FENNESSEY
Glory be to the Lord! What a purty name they got
for you!

PATCHA
Did he say who he was?

MRS. FENNESSEY
He said he was an old friend of yours.

PATCHA
I wonder can it be the Duke of Wellington? Dannux
Touhy, I mean.

MRS. FENNESSEY
Touhy! Touhy! That’s the name. Will I send him
up?

PATCHA
Do if you please, ma’am.

[Mrs. Fennessey leaves the room, and in a short time Dannux Touhy enters.

DANNUX (as he shakes hands with Patcha) Well, well! ’Tis real glad that I am to see you. Sure I didn’t expect to find my old friend Napoleon in the town of Ballinflask this blessed day. And I’ve heard that Boulanger is here also. Is that so?

PATCHA It is so, then. And he’ll be as surprised as myself to find the Duke of Wellington here before him when he arrives.

DANNUX What makes you be in bed at this hour of the day? Is it the way that you’re sick?

PATCHA Not in the body, thank God, but in the mind and heart.

DANNUX And why don’t you get up and dress yourself, and go for a good long country walk?

PATCHA
I can’t.

DANNUX
Why?

PATCHA Sit down and I’ll tell you. (Dannux sits on a chair) Last night as I was goin’ to sleep, a knock came to the door, and when I said: “Who’s there?” a voice answered back and said: “Boulanger.” “Come in,” says I. And lo and behold, who should walk in the door but Nedsers Brophy, himself. And of course, he had the usual poor mouth. He couldn’t get a job in the town because he is such a poor mechanic no one would be bothered with him.

DANNUX
I’m not surprised at it. Sure he was never more than
a botch at his best.

PATCHA Well, he said, he hadn’t a penny in his pocket, or the price of a night’s lodgin’; so I invited him to sleep with me in this bit of a bed. And of course, he accepted. The same man never refused anythin’ he could get for nothin’ in his life.

DANNUX
I know him of old, the good-for-nothin’ humbug.

PATCHA The bed as you can see isn’t very large, so when he turned in the middle of the night, I fell out on the floor, and when I turned he fell out. And there we were, fallin’ in and fallin’ out like two drunken sailors all night long. And when mornin’ came, every bone in my body was as sore as a carbuncle.

DANNUX And sure ’tis myself that didn’t close an eye or stretch my limbs upon a bed at all last night, or eat a bit for two long days, but kept walkin’ the roads until I struck this town at daybreak.

PATCHA
God help us all!

DANNUX
And where’s Boulanger now, might I ask?

PATCHA
He’s gone out on a little message for me. He should
be here any minute.

DANNUX I suppose there’s no use askin’ you for that one pound two and sixpence that you borrowed from my brother, Lord Pebble, some time ago. I’m after gettin’ a job from the parish priest to set a range in his kitchen, but I haven’t either a trowel or a hammer, and unless I can raise the price of them, I’ll lose the contract.

PATCHA
And when will you get paid?

DANNUX
The instant the job is finished.

PATCHA
How much will the tools cost?

DANNUX
Three shillin’s, at least.

PATCHA I don’t know if I could spare that amount, but I might be able to give you a shillin’ when Boulanger comes back.

DANNUX
Was it to the pawnshop you sent him?

PATCHA ’Twas indeed, then. And with the only suit of clothes I had too. We were both dead broke, and my landlady stopped the grub yesterday mornin’, And I haven’t broken my fast since. So here I am now without a bit in the world but the shirt on my back.

DANNUX The birds of the air or the fish in the sea couldn’t be worse off, themselves. Why didn’t you make Boulanger stay in bed and pawn his clothes instead of your own, you fool?

PATCHA That would be the devil’s own strange way to entertain your guest, wouldn’t it?

DANNUX
That’s the queerest story I ever heard.

PATCHA
Sure we must get a bit to eat somehow. ’Tis famished
I am with the hunger, as it is.

[Brophy staggers into the room slightly intoxicated.

NEDSERS (putting out his hand to Dannux) Well, well, well! How’s my old pal Wellington? Who’d ever think of finding you here! (As they shake hands) There are no friends like the old ones. The world is a small place after all. Twas in Cork we met the last time and in Fermoy before that.

DANNUX
’Pon my word but I believe you’re right.

PATCHA (excitedly, to Nedsers)
Where’s the food I sent you for?

NEDSERS (staggers to the side of the bed and sits down) Wait and I’ll tell you what happened to me. All I got on your old suit of clothes was five shillin’s, and if you don’t believe me look at the ticket. (Hands ticket) Well, I went into a pub to get a drop of grog, and asked for a half shot of the best, put the five bob on the counter, got my drink, put the change in my pocket, and lo and behold, when I went to look for it again, I couldn’t find a trace of it high or low. Only for that I’d have brought you somethin’ to eat. There’s no use cryin’ over spilt milk, is there, Dannux? Wellington, I should have said. Well, how are you, anyway? ’Tis a long time since we worked together. Isn’t it?

PATCHA (catching him by the back of the neck) Glory be to the Lord! Is it the way you are takin’ leave of your senses? There’s my only suit of clothes in pawn, and the money you raised on them gone, and you here with your belly full of dirty drink, and I with my belly empty and my guts rattlin’ in want of food. ’Tis you that should feel ashamed of yourself to have me in such a condition and all on your account too.

NEDSERS What should I feel ashamed about? Didn’t I do my best? Blame the bla’gard who stole the money out of my pocket. What old talk you have. Didn’t I disgrace myself by goin’ into a pawnshop for you?

PATCHA
What am I to do at all!

DANNUX
’Tis a bad way to be in, surely. But I think I can
see a way out of the difficulty.

NEDSERS Good old Wellington! Good old Wellington! That’s what your namesake said before he put the comether on Napoleon. What say, Patcha?

PATCHA
Don’t be botherin’ me. I’m more than disgusted with
you.

DANNUX Now, there must be no quarrelin’. We are all friends and we must stand by, and help each other, because there is only the loan of ourselves in the world. I have a job to go to, but I have no tools to work with. And I haven’t a bit on my person that would be taken in the pawn, so I propose that Boulanger will give me his boots and that I will pawn them, and buy the tools I want. Then I will go to work, and when the job, which will only take me a few hours, is finished, I’ll share the one pound one that his reverence said he’d give me. And as he said himself, ’twas little enough, but as times were bad he couldn’t afford any more.

PATCHA
’Twas the Lord Himself that sent you in the door to
us!

NEDSERS Nothin’ could be fairer. But look at my old boots, you wouldn’t get a lump of candy from a rag man for them.

PATCHA But why not give him your coat and vest? You’d easily get eight or nine shillin’s on them and that much would buy the tools and get us all a bite to eat as well.

NEDSERS (taking off his coat and vest)
Enough said! Enough said!

DANNUX (as he wraps them up in an old newspaper) I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d get ten shillin’s on them. And sure they can be released again as soon as I get paid for the job.

NEDSERS That’s right, that’s the way I like to hear a man talkin’.

DANNUX (as he takes the laces from Patcha’s boots lying near the bed, and ties up the parcel) What else are we here for, but to be a help and a comfort to each other? Sure ’tis by each other we live. (Places the parcel under his arm, puts on his hat and walks towards the door. Looks from one to the other) Good-by, Napoleon Good-by, Boulanger. May God bless you both.

PATCHA What’s that I hear? Aren’t you comin’ back with the money and the bit to eat for us?

DANNUX
Of course I am. I only mean good-by for the time
I’ll be away.

[Exit Dannux. After he has gone Nedsers looks soberly at Patcha.

NEDSERS
Only for the time he’ll be away!

PATCHA
What’s the matter with you, at all?

NEDSERS
I think I did a foolish thing.

PATCHA
What’s that you’re sayin’, I say?

NEDSERS I did a foolish thing! I know I did. But that’s just like me. I brought my dacent impulses from my mother. God forgive her!

PATCHA
Is it the way you are afraid he won’t return?

NEDSERS I’m sure of it. I know he’ll never return. He’s the biggest bloody liar in the whole country and the biggest rogue too.

PATCHA (as he jumps out of bed with the blanket around him) The saints and angels protect us all! Sure I forgot that the parish priest is away in England on his vacation. And we are to be flung out on the roadside to-morrow, and in our shirts too!

CURTAIN