The Dooinney Moyllee

Characters

JUAN CHRISTIAN: An old farmer.
WILLIAM CHARLES CHRISTIAN: his son, aged about 45.
MRS. ANN CLAGUE: Juan Christian’s married daughter.
JAMES CANNELL: An old pedlar.
CATTY CANNELL: Cannell’s daughter, maid to Mrs Cubbon.
MRS. CURBON: A widow, retired.

* Dooinney Moyllee — A man praiser; said of a man who goes with another to get a wife.

Act 1.

SCENE — Juan Christian’s farmhouse kitchen; the room is untidy, cheerless, and man-like; William Charles sits on a stool before the fire, nursing his left hand, which is bandaged; he looks melancholy and resigned, with, a self-pitying air; footsteps are heard outside, and Juan Christian comes in, carrying a plucked fowl.

JUAN.
Well boy, is thy hand feeling any better?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
No, Daa, I’m only feeling middling maul.

(Anxiously)

Suppose it turned to blood poisoning, Daa?

JUAN (cheerily)
Och, la, och, letting with thou are, letting with, the poultice will draw all the verrum out of it.

WILLIAM CHARLES (doubtfully).
I’m, afraid a bread poultice is not strong enough, Daa.

JUAN.
It’s safe la, it’s safe for all.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Sugar and soap would be stronger, Daa.

JUAN.
We don’t know what grummercy is put in the soap, William Charles. “It’s better to be safe till sorry.”

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, Daa, I can’t work this way, and I should be ploughing the lea field, but I got no heart at me for anything. I’m all drolanagh.

(Sadly)

I’m afraid I’m going in consumption, Daa.

JUAN.
(Puts hen on the table, goes over to son and arranges his hand in arm sling with his red pocket handkerchief)
Boghned! Thou got a coul in thy bones, and thou are not getting right meat.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, Daa, I’m feeling saucy hungry, as they are saying; I’m tired of priddas and herring.

JUAN.
Thou’re right. We’ll have a pot of broth for dinner. There’s the pig’s cheek in salt, and I’ve killed the spreckled hen.

WILLIAM CHARLES (horrified)
The spreckled hen was sick, Daa.

JUAN.
Yis, la. I thought it was better to kill her, because if she died thou wouldn’t like to eat her.

(Finishes bandaging and takes up hen)

WILLIAM CHARLES (stands up, protesting)
Daa! Daa! don’t put her in the broth, or I couldn’t taste it. It’s wrong to eat such meat.

JUAN.
Well, boy, that’s the for I killed her, and it’s a sin and a shame to waste good meat. What are they saying? “Wilful waste makes woeful want.”

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Never mind, Daa, make priddas and herring again, and we’ll have tea afterwards.

JUAN.
Well, boy, have thy own way; but thou’ll never get strong on tea. It’s no wonder thou are failing. In the old times the people ate rough meat, and they were strong too.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Would ye call a sick hen strong meat, Daa?

JUAN.
Notions thou are taking, boghned thou are reading in the “Christian Herald,” or maybe “The Agricultural News.” Filling thee head with trouse!

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Easy, Daa, easy.

JUAN (emphatically)
I’ve ate dead sheep, and dead hens, and they never done me any harm, but it’s no use denying it, William Charles, I’m failing. I’m in my seventy-eight, and I’m afraid I’ll not be able to do the kiartaghyn much longer. I’m afraid I’ll have to go and live with Ann, she’s saying raa that I should come and live with her, and that I’m only keeping thee from getting a wife. Thou would be far better married, William Charles.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, Daa, suppose we get a woman at Lady’s Fair to mind the house for us, and to keep the place decent.

JUAN.
There’s always trouble with servants. Thou will have to get a wife, William Charles.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Aw! are ye at it again. Where am I going to get a wife?

JUAN.
Aw, la, women are plentiful enough.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Aw, yis, but the ones I’d have wouldn’t have me, and the ones that would have me I don’t want.

JUAN.
Thou are too particular, la.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’m getting too oul now.

JUAN.
Not a bit, la.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I could never ask a woman to have me.

JUAN.
Well, I had to do it before now.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
That was different though.

JUAN.
How was that?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Thou had only to ask Maa!

JUAN.
Well, William Charles, thou would be better married. Thou would get proper meat, and be taken proper care of, with a woman to look after thee. I would go and live with Ann, so I wouldn’t be in your way. Don’t stop for me at all, boy. I could come and put a sight on you sometimes. Thou would be far better married, la.

WILLIAM CHARLES (half in earnest)
If it was the woman that had to do the asking now, I might get a wife too.

JUAN.
Well, thou are a bogh. If a woman is worth having, she is worth asking for.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yis, that’s true; but, Daa, we are doing middling as we are.

JUAN.
Well, boy, thou won’t be always having me; I’m not as smart as I was.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Don’t talk of leaving me, Daa; thou are hearty yet, and good mighty for thy meat.

JUAN.
Aw, boy veen, the young may go, but the oul must go. I’m not complaining, but I’m getting on, I’m getting on. I’d like to see thee settled, la, and comfortable. I’d be more easy like in my mind.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, Daa, I’ll do anything that’s right, but’s it’s a big undertaking to get married.

(Shakes head solemnly)

It’s making me uneasy when I’m thinking of it; to have a strange woman always about the place, and to feel that she would have a right to be there as long as she would live, and never to get away from her. It’s a big thing to ask me, Daa.

(Walks about uneasily)

JUAN.
Well, most men seem to like being married.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I wonder?

JUAN.
Thou would get used to it, la; and maybe thou would come to like it.

WILLIAM CHARLES (shakes head doubtfully)
It’s a big thing, Daa. I’d always have to be clean, and wear my Sunday clothes after tea.

JUAN (chuckling)
Aw, I see thou are wanting a proud one.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’m not wanting one at all, but I wouldn’t have a woman that was always working and always cleaning, and never done and never clean.

JUAN.
Yis, boy, they are in, and I’m not overly fond of that sort either. Well, let’s try and think of one that would do for thee. What do thou think of Pye veg, now?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Aw, too oul Daa! too oul! Ahd she is dressed like a thing to frighten rooks.

JUAN.
She is younger till thyself, and she is always jesh and clean. Well, there’s Kelly, the Ballabeg’s sister — a smart striving woman, and a lil’ crof’ at her.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Aw, Daa, if ye put trousers on her she would do for a man; that one is stronger till I am myself.

JUAN.
Well, there’s Janie Charlie, over at the Top’s.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Houl on, Daa! I don’t want any of them. They wouldn’t do for me, at all, at all!

JUAN.
Aw, looking high thou are. Maybe thou have got thy eye on the daughter of the Captain of the Parish!

WILLIAM CHARLES.
And amn’t I as good as her? for I’m sure, Daa, thou are as good as oul Ballamoar, only we haven’t as much land.

JUAN.
Well, boy, thou, are hard to please. I don’t know what’s at the back of thy head. Thou will have to choose for thyself.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I don’t know where to turn for a woman now, the good ones are all picked. I should have done it years ago. Well, they say a Manxman is never wise till the day after the fair, and that’s been my failing — too slow and letting with, letting with.

JUAN.
Thou know the saying, “There are as good fish in the sea as ever were caught.”

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Maybe, Daa, but they are hard to catch.

JUAN.
They are saying too, “Faint heart never won fair lady.”

WILLIAM CHARLES (with resignation).
Well, Daa, I suppose I’ll have to give in. I’ll be looking about me.

(Changing his tone)

Here’s oul Cannell, the pedlar, coming on the street.

JUAN.
Is there anything we are wanting?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yis, I’m wanting shirts and stockings bad enough.

JUAN (speaking earnestly)
William Charles, what do thou think of Cannell’s daughter — a good-looking girl, and smart and clean too! She takes after her mother, and the mother was an un-common nice body. Far too good for an oul lhiam lhat like Cannell. The girl will have a nice slugh from the father some day, for the man must have money.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yis, I hear he has got a mortgage on the Kerrowgarrow, and he has got money in the Glenmoar too.

JUAN.
I’m sure of it. Now, that’s the girl for thee!

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’ve seen Catty Cannell at chapel often, and a nice girl she is too; but I’m afraid she is too young for me.

JUAN.
Well, thou see, William Charles, that —

WILLIAM CHARLES (excitedly)
Houl on Daa! Here he is.

(Enter JAMES CANNELL)

(James Cannell is an elderly man, comfortably and neatly dressed, has a gentle, smooth manner, carries a basket with an assortment of calicos, hosiery, patent medicines, stationery, thread, buttons, etc. He is a widower, reputed to be wealthy, has a daughter Catty, who is maid with Mrs. Cubbon, a retired widow of small means, living near.)

CANNELL.
It’s doing glunky weather!

JUAN.
Yis, weather for the house.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yis, Master Cannell, it’s coarse weather.

JUAN.
Come in man, take the weight off thy legs. Put thy basket on the table.

CANNELL.
Thankye, thankye. I’ll rest a bit. It’s looking dark to the South-eastard. I wouldn’t trust but we’ll get snow.

JUAN.
I wouldn’t trust, there’s some cooth in the air like snow.

CANNELL.
We have had no snow this winter yet.

JUAN.
No. The seasons are changing. They are different now to what they were in my young days. The world is changing I’m saying still.

CANNELL (sighing)
Aw, yis Juan, but not for the better, I’m afraid. People are wickeder till they used to be. I’m saying still, they are wickeder till the Devil wants them to be.

JUAN.
No, man! They were worse in the oul days, drinking and fighting and sheep stealing. The people now is far studdyer till they were.

CANNELL.
Yis, that’s true too.

(To William Charles)

Thou are looking maul, William Charles! What’s the matter with thy arm?

JUAN.
There was a gurrin on his finger, and it gathered, so we put a poultice on it.

CANNELL.
Och! man, och! There’s lots of people complaining, I hear.

JUAN.
Have thou heard how is Juan Paddy?

CANNELL.
The shoemaker?

JUAN.
Yis, man.

CANNELL.
No better, I’m told. They’re saying it’s strange now what is doing on him.

JUAN.
Aye, something that’s not right.

CANNELL (mysteriously)
Like as if he took something, or maybe something seen him.

JUAN (with conviction)
Yis, there’s something put a sight on him right enough.

CANNELL.
Yis, people can’t be too careful.

JUAN.
Is he getting anything for it?

CANNELL.
Taking herbs regular, I’m toul.

JUAN.
Keym Chreest is mighty good for ones taking a maulness, if there is a lil’ charm said with it; especially if there has anything seen him, like.

CANNELL.
People can’t be too careful. Yet I never saw anything, and I’m walking middling late too.

JUAN.
Aw, thou, never put the corree on them, for all.

CANNELL.
I’m saying a charm, and a lil’ prayer to myself, especially in moonlight weather.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
What boghned ye are talking. The man is living alone and has fallen into a maulness since the wife died.

CANNELL.
Aw, boy, thou are talking middling light. There’s too much schooling these days, and young people haven’t got proper respect for high things.

JUAN.
Well, it’s bad for a man to be living alone; but thou were wanting a pair of stockings, boy?

CANNELL.
I got some nice English ones, terrible easy on the feet they are. Not so coarse as Manx knitted ones.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Not so good to wear though.

CANNELL.
Good uncommon. Now they are extraordinary nice for Sundays.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, but they are poor for cold weather.

CANNELL.
Thou are not troubled with cold feet, William Charles. They look uncommon well on Sundays, and if ye put a tuck on ye trousers and wear low shoes with a squeak in them, well, ye would be clever walking up to your seat in chapel.

JUAN (piously)
They look worldly, Cannell —

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Now, what would ye be asking for them?

CANNELL.
Well, it’s the only pair I got, and seeing it’s yourself that’s in, and ye father and me being oul neighbours and reared near together, I’ll let you have them reasonable. Take them for one and ninepence.

JUAN.
Thou’ll get thy death, wearing thin calico stockings, William Charles. Thou wouldn’t get them things on thy feet. Thou should have a wife to knit stockings for thee.

CANNELL.
Aw, they are made for stretching; they are knitted by machines, they are saying, and it’s astonishing the warm they are too.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’ll give thee a shilling for them, ready money.

CANNELL.
Well, I’ll give in, I’d like to see thee wearing a nice black pair of stockings, and I’ll come down threepence; say one and sixpence, and take them for a Christmas box.

JUAN.
Now, Cannell, thou only put the threepence on to take it off. Say one and threepence; and we will come up threepence if thou will come down threepence, that’s honest dealing.

CANNELL.
Aw, man! I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it! Thou are a hard man, Juan!

JUAN.
Hard, but honest. Say one and three, Cannell.

CANNELL.
Well, well, split the difference, say one and fourpence halfpenny.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yis, yis, we’ll not fight for a halfpenny.

CANNELL.
(Places stockings in William Charles’s hand)
Now, the clever thou will be of a Sunday, just like a “stranger.” I got some tremenjous nice shirts here now. There were only three left, they said, and they are all the fashion in Liverpool, they said, and they are all wool and tailor made, they said. (Holds up shirt proudly)

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Terrible little.

CANNELL.
Aw, no, ye can let it out at the neck.

JUAN.
Thou, should have a wife making thy shirts; that thing is like a child’s pinnie.

WILLIAM CHARLES (appealingly)
Well, Daa, I only got two shirts, and one is on me and Ann is mending the other. I really should have a spare Sunday shirt, Daa.

(To Cannell)

Now, what would ye be asking for this?

CANNELL.
Well, they are charging four and sixpence for them in Liverpool.

JUAN (sarcastically).
Is that for all of it, Cannell?

CANNELL.
Thou’re a wicked, thou’re a wicked!

JUAN (examining it)
Three and sixpence, Cannell! The buttons are off the sleeves.

CANNELL.
Aw, thou are bad to cog, Juan.

JUAN.
I’m afraid it will crib in the washing, and thou’ll not get it on, William Charles.

CANNELL.
This kind always comes out with washing. It is made for stretching.

JUAN.
Aw, bad for stretching is it — like pedlars.

CANNELL.
Aw, Juan, thou’re a wicked, thou’re a wicked!

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, Master Cannell, what’s the less thou’ll take for it?

CANNELL.
Well, well, give me four shillings, and take it.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
What do thou, say, Daa? I’m afraid I better take it.

JUAN.
Aw, plaze shiu hene, as plaze shiu mish. It’s thee that must wear it, boy.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
(Takes the shirt, and looking out of window, exclaims).
Oh, there’s the heifer got away! I’ll go and put her back.

(Goes out)

(Juan finds his purse and pays the pedlar)

CANNELL.
How is thy knee? Thou are looking smarter till the last time I was here.

JUAN (rubbing knee)
Aw, Cannell, bad enough, very stiff, la.

CANNELL.
Now, I got the very thing to ease it, drives the pain away in an hour. Made by a big doctor in London, they are saying. For outwardly use, though, Juan.

(Warning)

Outwardly, mind.

(Finds bottle and holds it up)

JUAN.
What are ye asking for a bottle?

CANNELL.
One and sixpence; it’s marked on the bottle.

JUAN.
One and sixpence, bogh on thee! How long will a bottle do?

CANNELL.
Well, the pain will be gone before the bottle is used.

JUAN.
(Taking up the hen and patting it admiringly)
I’ll give thee this pullet for a couple of bottles. Thou would get half-a-crown for a fat pullet in Douglas market.

CANNELL.
And carry the hen there for nothing? I’ll give thee a bottle for the hen. She looks thin, poor thing. What did she die of, Juan?

JUAN.
I’m surprised at thee, Cannell. I killed the hen, see here.
(Shows mark of knife).

CANNELL (unconvinced)
Yis, I see. Thou killed her to save her life, Juan. I’ll give thee a bottle for the hen.

JUAN.
Well, I’ll take a bottle; but give me a pair of laces for dooraght.

CANNELL.
Thou, are a guilley, Juan. Well, put a piece of paper around the poor thing for me.

JUAN (does so)
Here’s this week’s “Christian Herald.” Thou are for reading, and it will save thee buying a paper. I intended to make a pot of broth of the hen, but there won’t be time now. We’ll have to do with a cup of tea. We’re not getting right meat in this house. I wish William Charles would get a wife, then I would go and live with Ann.

CANNELL.
There’s many a woman would be glad to get him; a steady, brave looking man, and good inclined too; and he will be coming in for the land, of course?

JUAN.
Well, there is only Ann and him, and he is the heir.

CANNELL.
How is Ann taking it?

JUAN.
All right. I’ve told them long ago, the farm and stock for William Charles, and the money for Ann.

CANNELL.
William Charles should have a smart, striving woman, and he would do well.

JUAN.
That’s what I’m saying, Cannell.

CANNELL.
What has he got against marrying?

JUAN.
Aw, letting with, letting with.

CANNELL.
Traa-dy-liooar, I suppose. Well, I got some hundreds, and I’ll be leaving it some day too, and it’ll be going to Catty it’s like. I’d like to see her married and settled with a studdy man.

JUAN.
Well, Cannell, but our people have been on this land from the time of Illiam Dhone.

CANNELL (sharply)
Yis, and our people were always decent and as good as thy ones.

JUAN.
I’m saying nothing against them, Cannell; but they never owned land, man.

CANNELL (suggestively)
And there’s lots of ones only got the name of the land.

JUAN (proudly)
Well, our land is clear. Not a penny in it!

CANNELL.
Allowing, Juan, allowing, my daughter is as good as thy son.

JUAN.
I’m saying nothing against her.

CANNELL.
She is a good, clean, smart girl, and would make a striving wife for any man.

JUAN.
Allowing, Cannell, allowing, thou’ll get leave. We can’t on them, the young ones will suit themselves.

CANNELL.
That’s true, but William Charles is backward; he wants a little encouragement. What do thou say, Juan?

JUAN (approvingly)
Well, well, try thy hand, I’m agreeable. If thou will make thy money over to the girl, the farm and stock will be William Charles’s; that should give them a start.

CANNELL.
Shake hands over it.

(They shake hands)

Leave William Charles to me, I’ve been dooinney moyllee before now. It will come out all right.

JUAN.
Have a smook?

(They fill pipes and smoke)

CANNELL.
Here’s William Charles!

(Enter William Charles)

JUAN.
William Charles, thou better put the kettle on, Master Cannell will have a cup of tea with us. Put thy basket on the settle, man, and take thy rest. I’m going out to look at the colt.

(Goes out)

CANNELL.
The oul man is failing, William Charles, he’s failing, la, and he was a smart man in his day too. I’m wondering Ann is not taking him. It’s putting too much on thee, William Charles, to work the farm and do the house work too.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Daa is no burden, he’s a help to me.

CANNELL.
Aw, but it’s a mighty strain on an oul man to feel the charge on him. I’m only speaking as a friend, but I can see he is only taking of it for thy sake. I believe he would be glad to see thee with a wife to manage for thee, in a home of thy own. But he was never a man to complain. Still, I can see he’s feeling it, and all to that.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’d do anything to please Daa, but thou are talking of getting a wife as if it was an easy thing to do. Where am I going to get a wife? If thou had a few samples in thy basket now, I might choose one, maybe.

CANNELL.
What kind would thou like now? One with money, or land, or good looks, or nice ways, or —

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’m not understanding, for I never gave it much thought.

CANNELL.
Then it’s time thou did. Most men take a notion for a wife sometimes. Sometimes they take it young and have it bad, and then get over it, and never have it again. Others take the notion later, but I’m told that the later ye take it the worse you are, so I’m told.

WILLIAM CHARLES (innocently)
I never had it yet, not that I know of.

CANNELL (solemnly)
If a man takes it after fifty they say it is bad for the heart.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Look at that now.

CANNELL (impressively)
Yis, I’m told they get very low.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, I’ll give in it’s a pitiful thing to see an old man living by himself, and looking as lonely as a coar-ny-hastan in a curragh; but thou are worse than myself, for thou are living alone.

CANNELL.
I had a good wife, William Charles; but I’ve got a daughter, and I’ve got my eye on her mistress too!

WILLIAM CHARLES (amazed)

Thou have got thy eye on Mistress Cubbon! Well, thou are looking high!

CANNELL.
Thou ’ll get leave, she thinks a deal of me. I’m often calling to see her and Catty, and having a cooish with them. Catty was saying last time what a nice agreeable man thou were; and Mrs. Cubbon was saying, yis thou were, and she went to school with thee, she said, and thou were always kind, but terrible shy, she said.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Houl on, don’t talk boghned.

CANNELL.
I’m telling the truth. I’ll take thee with me for a night to sooree if thou will go.

WILLIAM CHARLES (interestedly)
And what will I have to do?

CANNELL.
Och, man, I’m wanting thee to be civil to Catty, and I’ll talk to the mistress, and if thou will like Catty thou can have her; for I’d like to see her married to a studdy man, and I will be leaving her my money some day, and thou will be having this farm, I suppose, so ye should be comfortable.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Are thou meaning it, Master Cannell? I think Catty an uncommon nice girl, but I’m afraid she wouldn’t have me.

CANNELL.
Thou never know till thou try, and I’ll help thee, boy. I’m going there to-night about eight o’clock, and I will prepare the way for thee with Catty. Then thou can meet me at the smithy, and I’ll take thee in and give thee a chance to sooree.

WILLIAM CHARLES (gasping)
Houl on! give me time to think, or ye’ll have me married before I know!

CANNELL (encouragingly)
What’s doing on thee? Too much thou are thinking, and thou will go on thinking till it’s too late.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
That’s true too. But I’m feeling all nervous. How will we manage?

CANNELL.
I’ll take thee in the kitchen, and we will all have a cooish together, and then we’ll see how we get on afterwards. We must make a start anyway.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
That’s true; but I don’t like to go into a strange house without any business.

CANNELL.
Leave that to me, and do as I tell thee.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
But you won’t leave me alone with two women in a strange house? I wouldn’t know what to say. What do they say to women? What do they talk about?

CANNELL (impressively)
Now, listen to me. Whatever else you say, don’t be sensible. Women like weak talk. Remember this, any light, foolish talk will do. Talk boghned, and make them laugh, and they will like thee.

WILLIAM CHARLES (seriously)
But our Ann is sensible.

CANNELL (shortly)
Ann is a joushag — eh, eh, I mean she is strong minded.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, if Catty is like Ann, I don’t want her.

CANNELL.
Aw, no, Catty is not like Ann, she is not sensible at all. No, she is not unsensible either. I mean she is more like a woman, coar and agreeable.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Look at that now. Here’s Ann coming up the lane with Daa.

CANNELL (excitedly)
Shee bannee mee! I don’t want to meet Ann: her tongue would clip tin. I’ll slip out the back way and go down the turnip field. I’ll wait for thee at the smithy to-night.

(Packing his basket as he speaks)

I bought this hen from thy father, William Charles.

(Takes up basket and rushes out)

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I better push these things away before Ann sees them. (Pushes stockings and shirt in drawers, but tail of shirt sticks out).

(Enter ANN and JUAN).

ANN (talking shrilly)
It’s a disgrace to the living. It’s the dirtiest farm street in the parish. I’d be ashamed for people to see it. And look, kettle broth again! Tea for dinner. The colour of tea is seen on your faces. You’re not getting right meat. And look at the scoodyn of dirt on your clothes, William Charles. Daa! Daa! you must come and live with me, and let William Charles get a wife to take care of him. What’s this?

(Sees shirt tail, takes it and stockings out)

Cotton stockings!

(Contemptously)

Is it pride or laziness that is doing on the man? And what in the name of St. Patrick is this; thou never bought this thing to wear?

(Holds shirt against William Charles)

Thou were always a bogh, William Charles, and a bogh thou’ll be. Wasting good money on shop things.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
He said it would stretch in the washing.

ANN.
Stretch? I suppose thou bought it from oul Cannell, the sleech. I’d like to get my tongue at him; he won’t forget the last time I took him. What did thou give for this? Daa, I’m wondering at thee allowing William Charles to be took in like this. Well, there is not one of you mending the other. A pair of boghs!

(Rummages in drawer and finds medicine bottle. Juan and William Charles sign to each other and slip out and leave her)

What’s this, more bargains, Daa? Did thou —

(Looks up and finds herself alone; she smiles grimly)

They are like a couple of childer. They want a woman to look after them.

Act 2.

SCENE — Mrs. Cubbon’s kitchen. Catty Cannell, her maid, is busy ironing and folding linen. The room is bright and cheerful; sheets, tablecloths, etc., are airing on a clothes horse in front of the fire. Catty, a pretty girl of from 20 to 23 years of age, is singing a well-known Christmas Carol.

CATTY.

Three little ships came sailing down,
Came sailing down,
Came sailing down,
Three little ships came sailing down,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

I asked them to see where they were going,
Where they were going,
Where they were going,
I asked them to see where they were going,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

(Enter MRS. CUBBON, a plump, cheery widow, of about forty-five years of age)

MRS. CUBBON.
Catty, is my bonnet on straight?

(Catty skilfully and critically arranges it)

Catty, is my hair right behind?

(Catty daintily re-touches it, pulls coat straight, smoothes out a crumple, flicks off a stray thread, etc.)

CATTY.
That little bit of red in your hat smartens you up. I always said a few red berries suit you and brings out the colour in your cheeks and lips. It brightens your brown eyes too, and softens the shadows on your face.

MRS. CUBBON.
You should have been a milliner, Catty.

CATTY.
Yes, I should have liked it, but father would not have it, said it was worldly, and only taught girls vanity and boghned.

MRS. CUBBON.
Well, I think he made a great mistake.

CATTY.
Well, never mind. Mrs. Cubbon, you look real nice and young. Someone will be taking notions of you, and you will be bringing a master here some fine day. I hope he won’t be hard to do with.

MRS CUBBON (giggles)
Aw, I’m getting too oul now.

CATTY.
Not a bit, you haven’t a grey hair or a wrinkle yet.

(Teasingly)

Deed, and I’m thinking you are going after more than groceries. I wonder who he is? Do I know him?

(Laughingly)

MRS. CUBBON (rather pleased)
I don’t know myself yet, Catty, but we must get something to eat, master or no master. I didn’t like the last tea we got at Kelly’s, and their currants weren’t nice, and a halfpenny a pound more than Sayle’s. I think I’ll go to Sayle’s to-night.

CATTY.
I’ve used all the starch too.

MRS. CUBBON.
Yes, let me see, starch, rice, tea, sugar, soap-, and we, want some meat too, for Sunday. That’s all, I think. I won’t be long.

(Goes out)

CATTY (resumes her work and singing)

They said they were going to Bethlehem,
To Bethlehem,
To Bethlehem,
They said they were going to Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

I wonder what the old carval really means? They were not real boats like Tom’s ship. Poor old Tom, I wonder where he is now?

(Sings) —

Oh, Tom has gone, what shall I do?
Away to Rio!
Oh, Tom has gone, what shall I do?
Tom’s gone to Rio!
I’ll pack my bag and I’ll go too,
Away to Rio!
I’ll pack my bag and I’ll go too,
Tom’s gone to Rio!

(CANNELL, the pedlar, comes in stealthily and puts his basket on the table; the girl starts)

CATTY.
You frightened me; I didn’t hear you come in.

CANNELL (reprovingly).
What heathenish songs are thou singing? I’m surprised at thee, Catty. Isn’t there enough hymns in the hymn-book, that thou must sing the worldly and unclean shanties that drunken sailors ratch at sea? That’s what thou learn from Tom Collister!

CATTY.
I never learned anything from him but was right and true.

CANNELL.
Thou, don’t know how he carries on when he is away foreign.

CATTY.
No, but I can trust him.

CANNELL.
I wouldn’t trust any man further than I could throw him, as the saying is.

CATTY.
Well, I would, I trust Tom Collister!

CANNELL (sneeringly)
I wouldn’t trust my own brother.

CATTY.
Well, I can trust Tom.

CANNELL.
Aw, out of sight out of mind.

CATTY.
Not with Tom.

CANNELL.
How do thou know?

CATTY.
Because as I said before, I can trust him.

CANNELL.
But how do thou know thou can trust him?

CATTY.
Because I do.

CANNELL.
But why?

CATTY.
For.

CANNELL (crossly)
But that’s not a reason.

CATTY (emphatically and finally).
Well, it’s my reason.

CANNELL.
Well, Catty girl, I’m thinking a lot about thee, and what is best for thee. Don’t thou think now that a farmer would make a better man for thee, than a sailor?

CATTY.
I’m not going to be a farmer’s wife, to rag and tear all my days to make rent.

CANNELL.
Well, but a farmer with land of his own?

CATTY (provokingly)
Oh, I see, to pay rent and call it interest; that is the same. No, I don’t want any farmer!

CANNELL (patiently)
Well, veen, but a man with land that’s clear?

CATTY (irritably)
Well, why don’t you say what you mean?

CANNELL.
Well, there is William Charles Christian, a nice sogragh good-living man, and heir to the farm.

CATTY.
Croft, you, mean.

CANNELL.
Well, there’s well on to fifty acres of their own, and more fields on rent besides.

CATTY (shortly)
He doesn’t want me, and I don’t want him.

CANNELL (convincingly)
Listen, Catty. I got a flock of hundreds, and if thou will have thy own way and go with Tom Collister, I will leave all my money to the Foreign Missionaries. But if thou will obey me and take a decent man like William Charles Christian, thou will get my lil’ slugh when I’m done with it, and ye can live respectable and comfortable on your own land.

CATTY (bitterly)
Money and land, pride and greed. These things are the curse of the Isle of Mann.

CANNELL (annoyed and baffled)
Thou art foolish and hasty, girl. Thou art taking after thy mother.

CATTY (bursting into tears)
I’m not a sleech, anyway; and leave poor mother alone, she’s gone.

CANNELL.
Och, veen, I’m only planning the best for thee. William Charles was coming along the road with me, and I asked him to wait at the gate while I went in to see thee. I saw Mrs. Cubbon going to town, so we might ask William Charles to come in for a warm, before going our ways together again.

CATTY (drying her eyes)
Did you ask him to come here?

CANNELL.
I’m telling thee we met at the smithy, and were going our ways together, and I left him outside. The man will be starved; I’ll ask him to come in for a sight on thee; we won’t stay long.

CATTY.
You, needn’t bring him here.

CANNELL.
Och, veen, don’t be uncivil to the man.

CATTY.
I won’t talk to him.

CANNELL.
Now, girl, remember the Foreign Missionaries!

(Going out)

CATTY.
I’m going too. I’ll not stay and be sold like a sheep.
(Goes into other room)

(CANNELL and CHRISTIAN enter together. CANNELL comes in boldly, Christian timidly)

CANNELL.
Anybody in? Are thou there, Catty?

(To Christian in a loud whisper)

She will be here soon, sit down William Charles. Now whatever thou do, don’t be sensible. Thou see, women are strange. Thou never know how they are going to behave. Now, remember what I toul thee before. Be natural, William Charles, and be boul. Most women like foolish talk — any boghned will do — and I’ll soon go out and leave you together, and then thou can begin to sooree.

WILLIAM CHARLES (sheepishly)
I would rather face a wild bull than a woman. I don’t know what to say first.

CANNELL.
Say “It’s a fine night,” for a start.

WILLIAM CHARLES (eagerly)
Yes, and What after that.

CANNELL.
Och, man, well, say “It’s nice and warm by the fire.”

WILLIAM CHARLES (repeating)
“It’s a fine night” first, and then, “It’s nice and warm by the fire.” Aw, dear, I can’t think of anything more after that.

(Suddenly rises and goes towards door)

I think I’ll be going home before she comes.

CANNELL (jumps up and pushes him back to a chair)
Thou will do all right. Talk about the coul weather and the Christmas. Never mind, I’ll do the talking.

(Keeps his eyes on Christian, and runs to the inner door and calls)

Catty, veen!

(Enter CATTY)

Well, Catty, we have come in for a warm.

(Nudges Christian, to speak)

WILLIAM CHARLES (looking at the floor)
Eh, eh, it’s a fine night.

(Catty resumes her work without a word).

CANNELL.
Terrible poor drying this week. I suppose thou had to dry all the things in the kitchen?

CATTY (with closed lips, mumbles)
H—m—m—m.

CANNELL.
It’s bad for the chest though, and thou must take care of thyself, Catty veen. Thou don’t know who is waiting for thee. What do thou think, William Charles?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Eh, aye, yis, nice and warm by the fire.

(Catty giggles)

CANNELL.
I promised Keown’s wife to bring her a bottle of linament, I’ll just put a sight on her.

(Takes a bottle from his basket, and is going)

WILLIAM CHARLES (rising)
I think I’ll go my ways too.

CANNELL.
No call for thee to go, houl on, man, I’ll be back in a few minutes.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I think I better be going.

(Cannell grimaces and signs to him to stay)

CANNELL.
Give him something to do, Catty; let him fold the sheets with thee.

(Slips out)

WILLIAM CHARLES (standing awkwardly by the chair)
I really think I better be going!

CATTY (giggling nervously)
You said that before.

(There is an awkward silence, Christian cannot bring himself to leave, and does not like to sit down)

CATTY (at last)
The weather is fine for December.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yes.

CATTY.
Rather cold though.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yes.

CATTY.
Do you think we will get rain?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Yes, eh, no.

CATTY.
We have had no snow yet.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
No.

(Slides timidly into chair. Another awkward silence; at length Catty speaks)

CATTY.
Well, Mr. Christian, if you don’t want to talk, I’m sure I don’t.

WILIAM CHARLES (with a visible effort)

Are you, — I mean did you — No, I was going to say, are you keeping well this winter?

CATTY (genially).
Yes, I’m always well; I like the cold weather. Do you?

WILLIAM CHARLES (confusedly)
Yes, no, middling.

CATTY.
I would rather the summer though. Would you?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Well, really, really — I don’t know — I’m not sure — I think I do — yes, no, really.

CATTY (calmly)
Fancy, really!

WILLIAM CHARLES (harassed and confused).
Yes, no.

CATTY (teasingly)
Really!

(Another silence. Catty coolly resumes ironing, places sheets and tablecloths on clothes-horse, and deliberately teases Christian)

CATTY (guilelessly)
Are you waiting to see Mrs. Cubbon? She will be here soon.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
No, I called to see you.

CATTY (sweetly)
Now, that was nice of you; but suppose Mrs. Cubbon comes in?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I think I better be going now.

(Rises again)

CATTY.
Don’t hurry away. I’m just beginning to like you. Dear me, have you hurt your finger? You can’t think much of me if you want to go so soon. You are not looking at me. I don’t believe you like me a bit.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Your father brought me here. I wasn’t anxious to come.

CATTY (tormenting him)
I knew you didn’t want me, and now that I’m getting to like you better, you want to go and leave me.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
It’s getting late. I think I better be leaving you good-night.

CATTY.
It’s early yet, don’t go; I’ll be lonely; you are such good company. Wait, I’ll put the kettle on, and when Mrs. Cubbon comes, we will all have supper together and call it the mheillea.

(Hears step outside)

Oh guy, here’s the missus!

WILLIAM CHARLES (in alarm)
What better I do! What better I do!

(Drops on his knees and hides behind clothes-horse)

(Enter MRS. CUBBON)

MRS. CUBBON.
(Sinks exhausted into chair and gasps)
Dear me!— the bad I feel— I’m checked— I felt a weakness and I thought I better come back. Dear me! — the short my breath is — I’m that hot —

CATTY.
Come into the parlour; you are overheated, and the kitchen is too warm.

MRS. CUBBON.
No, leave me here! I feel a little better, only my heart is all of a flutter.

CATTY.
This room is too warm. Hot rooms are bad for heart trouble. Let me help you to bed, and you will soon be all right.

MRS. CUBBON.
Well, maybe I better.

(Catty helps her off with bonnet and jacket, and takes her arm to lead her away, when the pedlar comes in. Mrs. Cubbon sits down again)

CANNELL.
It’s a fine night. Och, Mrs Cubbon, you are not looking well.

MRS. CUBBON.
No, I had to turn back. I got quite faint. Catty, thou better put thy things on, and go and do the messages for me. Here’s the purse, and call at Quayle’s and get a bit of meat or a fowl to make some broth for Sunday.

CATTY.
I think you should go to bed first, and then I will slip out on the messages.

MRS. CUBBON.
I’ll be all right now, Catty.

CATTY.
Mistress, veen, go to bed to please me!

MRS. CUBBON.
Don’t be uneasy about me, Catty. I feel much easier now.

CANNELL.
I got a nice fowl here now, I’ll let you have. I was bringing it home, but it’s too much for me; and I’ll be glad to do you a good turn, and ye can have it at the price I paid for it — half-a-crown.

(Takes it out)

There now, that’s a nice fat pullet.

MRS. CUBBON.
Thank you, Master Cannell, you are very obliging. It will save Catty walking all the way to Quayle’s.

(Pays Cannell)

Thou, better go for the groceries, Catty.

(Christian, looks on in amazement)

CANNELL.
Yis, Catty, I’ll stay for company with Mrs. Cubbon till thou come back.

MRS. CUBBON.
Thank you, Master Cannell, but I’m all right now.

CATTY.
I don’t like to go.

CANNELL.
I’ll take care of her, Catty veen, go thy ways.

MRS. CUBBON.
You could go with Catty, Master Cannell. I’ll finish folding the clothes for you, Catty.

(Girl goes out reluctantly)

CANNELL.
I’ll stay with thee till Catty comes back. I feel it would be a sin on my conscience to leave thee alone. Heart disease takes people off that sudden. There was old Mrs. Crebbin took away this evening, and her out in the morning docking turnipis.

(Enter CATTY with coat and hat)

MRS. CUBBON.
Thy father will go with thee, Catty.

CATTY.
What am I to get?

MRS., CUBBON.
Rice, starch, tea, sugar, soap.

CATTY.
Rice, starch, tea, sugar, soap, five things.

MRS. CUBBON.
Get the “Mercury ” and the “ Christian Herald,” Catty.

CANNELL.
There’s the “Christian Herald ” wrapped around the pullet, Mrs. Cubbon. I’ll make you a present of it.

CATTY (takes basket).
Mistress, veen, if Daa comes with me, will you promise to go off to bed at once? Do it to please me!

MRS. CUBBON.
Very well, ya, I will.

(Catty goes out)

CANNELL.
Go on, Catty girl, I’ll overtake thee in a minute.

(To Mrs. Cubbon)

Catty is a good agreeable girl.

MRS. CUBBON.
Yes, she is, I like her very much. We get on very nicely together.

CANNELL.
Do thou like her father? Do thou think thou could get on with him, now?

MRS. CUBBON.
You, will have to hurry if you want to catch Catty.

CANNELL.
I don’t want to catch Catty. I want to catch thee!

MRS. CUBBON.
I’m not at all well, and I promised Catty to lie down after she left.

CANNELL.
Thou should have somebody to take care of thee. Let me do it, veen!

MRS. CUBBON.
Master Cannell, you are very kind, but I feel faint; please leave me.

CANNELL.
Aw, veen, listen to me. I am a rich man. I have hundreds of pounds out on first mortgages. If thou will marry me, thou, will never be short. I’ll look after thee.

MRS. CUBBON.
No, it would never do; we are not at all suited for each other —

CANNELL.
But thou can get on with Catty, and she is my daughter, surely —

MRS. CUBBON (abruptly)
Catty, is not a bit like you, she is like her mother. No, Master Cannell, to tell you the truth, I do not like you at all; though I do like Catty very much.

CANNELL.
Well, well, think it over.

MRS. CUBBON.
I am quite well now, and would like to be left alone, please.

CANNELL (crestfallen)
Well, I’ll be leaving you, good-night. Don’t tell anybody what I said.

(Goes out)

MRS. CUBBON.
Well, I never, the old sleech, making me a present of the “Christian Herald.” I’ve a mind to fling it, and the fowl, after him.

(Christian suddenly sneezes. She stands in terror, screams, and gasps out)

MRS. CUBBON.
Who’s there?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
Me!

(Rises behind clothes-horse)

MRS. CUBBON (in amazement)
Mister Christian! What are you doing there?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I’m a fool, I’m a fool!

MRS. CUBBON (nervously giggling)
I do not understand. What have you been doing there?

WILLIAM CHARLES (frankly and in a manly way)
I’ll tell you the whole truth, Mrs. Cubbon, and not spare myself. Our ones have been worrying me for a long time to get married, and old Cannell brought me here to see his daughter. The girl was very kind to me, but I see quite plainly that I am not suitable for her. You came back quite unexpectedly, so I lost my head, and hid behind the clothes-horse like a gorm. I am sorry I have frightened you, and ask your pardon for coming into your house, and behaving in this ridiculous way.

(Turns towards door)

MRS. CUBBON.
Mr. Christian, I am sorry I have kept you so long in an uncomfortable position. (Giggling) You must have heard all that passed.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I will never repeat what I have heard.

MRS. CUBBON.
Thank you, you are very generous.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
No, I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. To think that I should have been persuaded to come here and court a young woman against her wish; and then behave like a clumsy gorm to you. I feel ashamed!

MRS. CUBBON.
Now I see why poor Catty did not wish to leave the kitchen. To tell you the truth, I am glad you are here, Mr. Christian, for I am quite upset to-night, and do not feel at all well, and I feel quite safe with you.

WILLIAM CHARLES.
I am sorry I have kept you, and now I must go. Good night.

(Opens door to go)

MRS. CUBBON (holding hand on her heart)
Oh, I feel quite faint!

(Drops on chair on the hen, screams, and staggers to the sofa, where she sits limply. William picks up hen and flings it out through the open door, muttering to himself)

MRS. CUBBON (faintly and brokenly)
Oh! — please give — me — a drink!

(William Charles gets a glass of water).
(Sipping)

What did you do that for?

WILLIAM CHARLES.
That fowl was unfit to eat. I know it was diseased.

MRS. CUBBON (horrified)
And to think that old villian sold it to me. Oh, dear,— thank you, Mr. Christian. We might have eaten it — Oh, it makes me feel quite ill!

(She sits dejectedly, and William Charles stands in embarassment).

WILLIAM CHARLES (confusedly)
I think I better be going now. Good-night.

(Moves towards door).

MRS. CUBBON (holding out her hands)
Oh! it’s coming again!

(William gives her a drink of water, and she says)

Oh! William Charles, don’t leave me!

(William Charles takes her hands and sits beside her)

WILLIAM CHARLES (tenderly)
Can I do anything for you?

MRS. CUBBON (with closed eyes)
I feel as if I am going to faint. Don’t let me fall — hold me!

(William puts his arms around her, to support her; she lets her head fall on his breast)

CURTAIN.

Well, thou are a bogh. If a woman is worth having, she is worth asking for.

Perhaps the earliest and most enjoyable shy-man-goes-courting play from all of Manx literature, Shimmin’s The Dooinney Moylee is one of the key texts in the history of Manx dialect theatre.

William Charles is the shy farmer at the centre of the story, whose father leaves him in the hands of a dooinney moyllee (a man-praiser) to be paired off. In front of Catty’s youthful vigour, William Charles’ shyness leaves him looking ridiculous, but perhaps the widow Cubbon might offer a better match…

The Dooinney Moylee was first performed in Peel on 3 December 1914 alongside Luss ny Graih, by Sophia Morrison’s Peel Players.

Coming in 1914, The Dooinney Moylee was a part of the final wave of Manx dialect theatre before World War I changed everything. By the time the Island emerged from war after 1918, Sophia Morrison, the driving force behind both the creation of and the production of Manx theatre, had died, and Shimmin and others never wrote with such frequency or had such scale of productions ever again. Although Manx dialect theatre would remain a force for many decades more, The Dooinney Moylee was one of the final plays of the first great golden age of Manx theatre.

Christopher Shimmin lived from 1870 until 1933 and was at various times a sailmaker, a sanitary inspector, a monumental mason, a Manx Labour Party founder, a Union leader, a tea-totaller, and a politician. But one thing he remained throughout all of his life was a strong believer in all things Manx. These factors coloured his writing of plays and short stories which would cause others to regard him as the Isle of Man’s greatest playwright.