Illiam Kodhere’s Will
William Cowley, Skipper of a Peel Fishing Boat.
Nora Cowley, The Skipper’s Daughters.
Kirrie Cowley, The Skipper’s Daughters.
Huan Cowley, The Skipper’s Son.
Illiam Kodhere (William Watterson), a Wealthy Farmer.
Mrs. Watterson, his Wife.
Liza Kinnish, their Servant.
Dan Quilliam, a Young Fisherman, Nora’s Sweetheart. Kodhere’s Natural Son.
Kelly, the Village Schoolmaster.
Chalse, an Old Wandering Beggarman.
Quirk, a Young Farmer.
Tommy Sayle, Fisherman. Member of Cowley’s Boat’s Crew.
Moore, Fisherman. Member of Cowley’s Boat’s Crew.
Village on the sea coast near Peel.
ACT I. — Cowley’s Garden Gate. Middle of March: About 6 p.m.
ACT II. — Scene 1. Cowley’s Kitchen. A little later the same evening.
ACT II. — Scene 2. .Cowley’s Kitchen. Early morning next day.
ACT III. — Scene 1. Kodhere’s Farmhouse Kitchen. Morning in June.
ACT III. — Scene 2. Kodhere’s Farmhouse Kitchen. Ten p.m. the same day.
ACT IV. — Kodhere’s Farm House Kitchen. Evening, Tynwald Fair Day, July 5th.
ACT IV. — Scene 2. Tableau.
The scene is near the garden gate outside William Cowley’s thatched cottage, standing near the high road which runs by the coast to the south of Peel. Below the high road are fields extending to the cliffs by the sea. Cowley, a big, honest, cheery fisherman, in a blue home-knitted guernsey, is skipper of a Peel fishing lugger. He is a man of about fifty -five years of age, a widower with three children. Nora, the elder daughter, is about twenty -four years of age. She is the housekeeper, and acts as mother to her sister Kirrie, a girl of sixteen, and Huan, her brother, a mischievous schoolboy of about twelve. It is “the beginning of the night,” in March. Nora is busy knitting a guernsey for her father, and has brought her work outside, and sits on a bench by the gate. Her father comes with a paint pot and brush, intending to paint the gate, and begins scraping the woodwork preparatory to painting.
Cowley. It’s ashamed of myself I am. Here I’ve been letting with, letting with, and never a coat of paint on the gate for years. The wood is going clean waste for a slick of paint.
Nora. Augh! father, ye’ll never paint the gate at the beginning of the night. The neighbours will be coming and spoiling their clothes. It’s done for years as it is, surely it’ll do till the morning, and we’ll get rain before long.
Cowley. ‘Deed, and thou’re right, girl. The wind has gone out, and we’ll have a change — squalls and showers. I wouldn’t trust we’ll have a dirty night.
[Enter Huan with broken whip.]
Huan. Nora, mend my whip for me.
[She mends it and he runs away.]
Nora. Huan, you’ve forgotten something.
[Huan comes back, looking on the ground as if for something he had dropped.]
Huan. Forgotten what, Nora?
Nora [reprovingly]. Your good manners.
Huan [runs away again, and shouts until out of hearing]. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Nora. I never saw such a child.
[Enter Kirrie with bart of bons on her back, and Huan with a great clew of gorse, which he holds up above his head while singing.]
Kirrie. Oh, dear, my back is tired. There will be a hump on my back like a camel before long.
Put in the pot.
Put in the pan.
Kirrie. Hush, Huan.
If you are going to give us anything, give us it soon,
So that we’ll get away by the light of the moon.
Kirrie [calls out as he goes]. Aw! it’s beautiful poetry, Huan. Go inside and write it in a book. [Turning to Nora] There’s a boat just come ashore at the Lhag, Nora.
Nora. How did they come? From the north or the south?
Kirrie. From Peel side. One of the men is coming across the fields now.
[Enter Kodhere coughing painfully.]
Kodhere. Good evening, Nora, thou are busy, girl.
Nora. Good evening, Mr. Watterson. Yes, I’m trying to get this guernsey finished for father before he goes to Kingsale. It ought to be good and warm, for it’s all real Manx. The wool came from your sheep, and Maa Teare spun it, and it was dyed at Ballig.
Kodhere. There now, there now; and knitted by a real Dalby girl. Is Himself in?
Nora. Yes. Have a sight in, Mr. Watterson. He’ll be glad of a cooish. [Kodhere gees in.] Poor old man, he’s getting moal, and him that used to be so smart and jesh. [Looking across the fields she recognises Dan.] It’s him.
Quirk. I’m afraid we are going to get some more rain, Nora.
Nora [briskly]. You farmers are always afraid of something. Afraid it will be wet; afraid it will be dry; afraid the hay will be too plentiful; or else afraid that there will be a good crop of potatoes, so that poor people will get enough to eat. I’ve no patience with you farmers!
Quirk [mildly]. Easy, woman, easy for all. Don’t be so hard on a fellow. [Picks up guernsey and examines it.] Are ye making that guernsey for me, Nora?
Nora [with scorn, whipping guernsey away]. A guernsey for a farmer! This guernsey is for a man, and he will be working, and wearing it when you farmers will be snoring on feather beds, and dreaming of turnips and the price of oats.
Quirk. Thou are terrible down on farmers, for all. Maybe thou have got thy eye on one, now. Maybe thou are scheming to be a farmer’s wife. Thou would like to be riding to Peel on Fridays, now, in a nice trap, and passing the poor fishermen on the road walking.
Nora [with emphasis]. Never! No, never! It’s the farmer’s wife that has got to work. It’s her that is ragging and tearing to keep the house going. And Himself- — going off to the market, or the fair. Aw, no no! I’m not having a farmer
[Enter Dan Quilliam in short sea boots, oilskin coat on arm, and fish in hand. He nods distantly to Quirk.]
Dan. Hullo, Nora.
Nora. Good evening, Master Quirk.
Quirk [moving away] . Good evening. [Dan nods.]
Nora. Whatever in the world has brought you here?
Dan. The “Nora” brought me [holding out his arms with mock gravity] and it was Nora that drew me here.
Nora. Don’t try to be funny, Dan, or you will Snake me laugh. [Sitting down on bench by gate. She says seriously.] But the wind has changed, and it won’t be safe to go back to Peel by sea to-night.
Dan. No, Nora, girl, I’m walking back by the high road. The Moores’ boys were in Peel to-day with their yawl, and I saw them starting to go back, so I jumped in with them, just as I stood. Never had time to change, nor nothing. [He sits down on bench beside Nora, and, drawing her to him, puts his arm around her, saying.] I couldn’t have lived another day without putting a sight on ye.
Nora. Blarney, Dan, blarney.
Dan. It’s the truth, girl.
Nora. Cross your hands, Dan.
[Dan rises, and with his face turned upwards, raises his hands in the form of a cross.]
Dan [smiling]. That’s the way we used to do at school when we told the truth. [Drops hands.]
Nora [teasingly]. You were always bad to tell the truth, Dan.
Dan [smiling]. Aye, it’s one of my failings. [Seriously.] But listen, Nora veen, what’s the use of waiting, waiting, and putting a fellow off? Traa dy liooar still. Let’s get spliced when we come back from Kingsale.
Nora. Time enough, Dan. Father can’t spare me yet.
Dan. Boghnid, Nora. There’s Kirrie fast growing a woman, and now is the right time, for, if Kirrie goes from home, ye won’t be free to leave your father.
Nora. What a head for scheming!
Dan. Now, if we get married in the summer, Kirrie can keep the home going still. She is growing quite a young woman; she will soon be putting her hair up.
Nora. The seasons have been so poor lately, it’s risky to trust to the fishing, Dan.
Dan. Thou know I have got a lil’ pick in the bank, girl. We’ll be all right.
Nora. That’s what they all say.
Dan. Don’t tease me, Nora. It’s high time we were getting settled. Let’s say Tynwald Fair Day; that is a lucky day for a wedding.
Nora. Aw, well, well. I’ll have to give in, or there will be no rest on ye. Well, we will see when ye come back from Kingsale. Are ye coming in to see father?
Dan. Anybody in?
Nora. Only old Kodhere.
Dan. I’d rather not. You know, Nora, he was not just to my poor mother, and he doesn’t own me, though he is my father.
Nora. I know, la. Never mind, I own you, Dan.
[With passion, placing her hands on his shoulder and looking admiringly in his face.]
And I’m proud of you, too!
Dan [takes her hands and says with feeling]. I’ll try and deserve you, Nora.
Nora [smiling again, and drawing away her hands’]. Aw, la, don’t worry. I have lots of failings, and you will have plenty to do to manage me. [Seriously] But if you are not coming in, you had better be getting off to Peel before the storm comes.
Dan. No fear of me; I’m not a clerk, or a draper. I’m not afraid of the storm, and I have brought my oilskin coat. [Changing voice to a softer tone] Oh, Nora, here is a little rock cod I caught on the way. Now, what will you give me for it?
[He offers her the cod in exchange for a kiss. She snatches the fish and darts away, but he catches her, takes a kiss, and goes off, pulling on his long oilskin coat. Before disappearing from view, he turns again and waves his hand.]
Nora [comes back to the gate and calls out] Good night, Dan, and good luck! [To herself] You are worth a thousand farmers.
The living room in Cowley’s cottage. The roam is large and comfortable. A bright fire is burning on the chiollagh. Pictures of fishing boats and ships adorn the walls. There is a dresser, and shelves of china, and brightly coloured ware. A large oblong deal table and a three-legged round table, are drawn to the side of the room. Hanging on a peg are Cowley’s oilskins, and on the floor his sea boots. Cowley sits near the fire with crossed legs, contentedly smoking. Kodhere sits opposite in arm chair, leaning on his stick, his red handkerchief lying across one knee. He coughs wearily, and looks tired and worn. He is in a repentant mood, and, feeling his end near, has come to Cowley’s cottage to get his will made.
Kodhere [coughing]. Aw, man, but my chest is took bad. I am getting no rest with my cough at all. The wet weather is trying me pirreagh.
Cowley. Augh, man, augh! Thou have got the thing that is going. There’s lots of ones got it, and thou are not a young man now, either, Kodhere. Aye! the thing that’s going.
Kodhere [slowly]. The thing that is going. Aw, Cowley, man, I am the thing that is going. Yes, it is me that is going.
Cowley. Boghnid, man, boghnid!
Kodhere. No, Cowley, I’m feeling a change, man, and I’ve come for thy advice on a bit of business. I’m wanting to do some writing to save trouble after I have gone. [Coughs]
Cowley. Well, man! Well? Well?
Kodhere. Thou are a man that has tried to live straight, Cowley, and I respect thee for it, and what thou will advise me I’ll do. I’ve not been a just man, Cowley, as thou knows. I’ve scraped money, and land, and they have been a curse to me and now I’ll soon be going, and there is no ” pocket in the shroud,” as the saying is. [Fit of coughing comes on.] And I want to do right to them I’ve wronged as far as I can, before it is too late.
Cowley. That’s right, man. Let’s hear thy plans. Thou can trust me, and then we can send for Kelly the Schoolmaster, and he’ll do the writing for thee.
Kodhere. There’s been something on my mind for years. Thou know I should have married Mary Quilliam, but I left her, like the coward that I was, and, poor soul, she struggled hard to earn an honest living, and keep herself and the son that was mine, in decency, and he has grown up a fine lad.
Cowley. Not a better in the Island. He has been with me for five seasons at the fishing, and he is a man to trust your life with.
Kodhere. It is glad to hear it I am. I have watched him for years, but I couldn’t look the boy in the face, so I never pretended that I knew him. And his poor mother has gone — gone [coughs wearily]. I want to leave everything to him, Cowley; and may God forgive me for my wrong doing. If I don’t make a will in his favour, Herself and my brother will come in for all, and this boy of mine will get nothing.
[Fit of coughing.]
Cowley. Hold on, hold on. Thou must be just to others too. Thou are forgetting Herself.
Kodhere. A hard woman, Cowley, man; a hard woman, and always putting bad in my head against young Quilliam, as they are calling him. And she had nothing, man, when I married her.
Cowley. She’s getting on, man. She’s getting on. Give her the little thatch house, and the garden, and a few pounds a year, man. There will be a blessing on thee for it.
Kodhere. I’m wanting to keep all for the young man, for his mother’s sake. But I’m agreeable to give her the thatch house and the garden, and the interest on the Waterworks’ shares. That’ll keep her comfortable. Her lifetime, though, Cowley, and afterwards to go to Dan.
Cowley. That’s better. And there’s lots of poor people helped thee to make thy money — leave them a pick, man.
Kodhere. Thou’re right, I know. Well, one hundred pounds to the Poor of the Parish, and I’ll give thee a hundred pounds in trust, to give a little to any poor body in need, as thou will think right.
Cowley. I’ll do my best; I’ll do my best.
Kodhere. Fifty pounds each to thy children, to give them a start in life.
Cowley. No, man, no! They have no claim on thee, and I won’t have it.
Kodhere. To please me, Cowley?
Cowley. No, I won’t have it. I’ll provide for them if I’m spared.
Kodhere. Well, the farm and stock are my own, and clear; and there are a few hundreds in the “Limited,” and that must go to my son known as Dan Quilliam, fisherman, of Peel.
Cowley. Well, let’s get it in black and white before any ones will come in. Where’s Kirrie? [Goes to door. Calls] Kirrie! Kirrie!
[Kirrie comes in.]
Kirrie. Well, Daa?
Cowley [with hand on Kirrie’s shoulder]. Run over to the Schoolmaster’s, and ask him to come over for a few minutes. Say that Mr. Watterson is here, and wants him. [Kirrie starts to go.] And, Kirrie, ask him to bring a bit of paper to do some writing.
Kirrie. Yes, Daa.
[She runs off.]
Kodhere. I’m told that Dan is going with thy daughter Nora, Cowley. I suppose thou knows.
Cowley. Yes, and if I had fifty daughters he could have them all if the law of the land would allow it. He is a good boy, Kodhere. Takes after his mother, I expect.
Kodhere. Yes, I expect [coughs]. I feel easier in my mind now that we have got that planned. I hope the Schoolmaster is at home. I wouldn’t like the night to pass without doing this bit of business.
[They sit quietly smoking. Enter Schoolmaster Kelly.
Kelly. Good evening, Mr. Cowley. Good evening, Mr. Watterson. Going to have a change of weather, I think.
Kodhere. We are wanting a bit of writing done, Master Kelly.
Kelly. Yes. Kitty asked me to bring paper and ink. Will, I suppose, Mr. Watterson?
Kodhere. Yes, man, yes.
Kelly. I’ll prepare the legal formula. Ah, the introduction, you understand, and then you can inform me what you wish me to write.
[Kelly busy writing with pompous air.]
Kodhere. Very short, man, very short. Thatch cottage by the road, with the garden, and the interest on the Waterworks shares for Herself for her life time.
Kelly. Mrs. Watterson’s full name, please?
Kodhere. Emmie Elizabeth.
Kodhere. The Waterworks’ shares for her life time,
and afterwards to revert to my son –
Kelly. Your son, Mr. Kodh – eh, Watterson!
Kodhere. Listen to me. One hundred pounds to the Poor of the Parish; one hundred pounds to Mr, William Cowley, in trust, to be used by him to help any needy person, at his absolute discretion; ten pounds each to the Parish Church, and the Wesleyan, and the Primitive Chapels; one hundred pounds to the Ward Library in Peel; the farm and stock, and all personal estate remaining after the legacies are paid to be the absolute property of my son, usually known as Daniel Quilliam, fisherman, of Peel.
[Kelly busy writing. Cowley and Kodhere smoking in silence. The door opens and Huan rushes in with a shout. Schoolmaster raises his head and looks sternly at him. Cowley solemnly points to the door and Huan retires quietly looking scared.]
Kelly. There, now, it is ready for the signatures. Shall I read it over to you, Mr. Watterson?
Kodhere. No call for it, man. Let;ae see it. [Puts on glasses and reads parts of it aloud]. Thatch house and garden – Waterworks’ shares – To the Primitive Trust Fund – Trustees – Farm, lands, buildings and outhouses of whatsoever description – Rights of way and water – All monies whatsoever – To my son, known as Daniel Quilliam, of Peel, Isle of Man, fisherman. It’s quite right, Mr. Kelly. I suppose I had better sign my name here?
Kelly. Wait. We must have two witnesses. I will do as one, but we must not have Mr. Cowley, as he benefits by the will. –
Cowley. No, man, no. I do not benefit. I am only a trustee. I am thinking that
Kelly [with dignity]. Excuse me, Mr. Cowley. I presume that you will grant that I have had the opportunity of acquiring a more comprehensive knowledge of legal technicalities than you could possibly have done. The responsibility of drawing up this will rests solely with me, and, as my reputation is at stake, please allow me to decide as to the correct method of procedure.
Cowley. Go on, man. Never mind me, I’m saying nothing.
Kelly. Now, Mr. Cowley, suppose I came down to your vessel, and began to criticise your methods of work, I am sure that you would be very much annoyed.
Kodhere [who had been examining the will]. Mr. Kelly, you have not appointed any executors. Maybe you would act with Thomas Brew, of the Ballamoar?
Kelly. Certainly, Mr. Watterson, certainly.
Cowley. I’ll go and get Moore’s wife. She is a woman that can hold her tongue. She can witness the will.
Kelly. She will do.
[Cowley goes out and returns in a few seconds with Mrs. Moore. Kodhere signs will, then Kelly, with a flourish, Mrs. Moore very deliberately and painfully.]
Mrs. Moore. Now, I must go and put the children to bed.
Kodhere. Here, Mistress Moore, get some nobs for the children.
[Gives her a shilling.]
Mrs. Moore. Thank you, Mr. Kodhere.
Kelly. Now, Mr. Watterson, you may make your mind easy. It is quite legal, and all the Deemsters and all the High-Bailiffs in the Island could not upset it. I flatter myself I can draw up a will equal to any regular lawyer.
[ With a conceited air.]
Kodhere. Thank you, Master Kelly, thank you. [Puts paper in his pocket] . What do) I owe you, Master Kelly?
Kelly. Oh, I leave that entirely to your own generosity, Mr. Watterson. In fact, I never make a charge. [Kodhere opens stocking purse, after fumbling with string, and gives him five shillings.] Thank you, thank you, but that is too much, Mr. Watterson.
Kodhere. No, no, you deserve to be paid for your trouble; you have earned it, man.
[Voices are heard outside and Nora, Kirrie, and Huan enter with Tom Moore and Tommy Sayle, members of Cowley’s boat’s crew.]
Moore. Well, Skipper, the wind has gone out. We have just got back to DaJby in time. [Dash of rain against windows.] We’ll have bad weather to-night. There’s a big shower coming in from the sea now.
Cowley. How’s things in Peel?
Moore. Aw, middling. Big Billy is engaging for Fenit. It’s all the talk on the laffs that all the big buyers are going to the West’ard this year. What do ye think yourself, Skipper?
Cowley. I’d rather stay at the old place, Kingsale, myself. The only trouble is the fish is so high off the land.
Moore. Aye, that’s the worst of Kingsale. I met Dan coming up Glenmaye Hill. He said he’d keep an eye on the boat’s moorings till she took the ground with the ebb tide.
Cowley. She’ll be all right; Dan’ll watch her.
[Enter Chalse, an old wandering beggarman, timid and bent, with gentle expression — a mystic storyteller.]
Chalse. It’s doing coarse weather.
Cowley. Come in. Come thy ways in, Chalse.
Nora. And get thy wet coat off thee.
Cowley. Get up to the fire, man.
Chalse. Look at that now, the kind ye are. But I’m not wet at all. I just got in in time.
[Nora bustles quietly around and gives porridge to Cowley, Chalse, Kirrie and Huan. They have their supper in blue banded, and rosy basins, while the conversation goes on.]
Cowley [eating porridge, and talking between spoonfuls]. Will any of ye have a bit of supper? There’s plenty more in the pot.
Nora. Will ye have a little, Mr. Watterson?
Kodhere. No, veen, thank ye. Herself will be waiting for me. I’d be took if I didn’t come back to supper. I must be going my ways now.
[Rises to go.]
Cowley. Take your time, man. It’s not fit to go out. It’s raining heavy. Wait till the worst is over. Take your rest, man; take your rest.
[Kodhere sits down. Nora offers supper to Kelly, Moore, and Sayle. They all decline.]
Kodhere. Anything strange going on in Peel?
Sayle. Nothing except the yarns on the laffs. Do thou remember Ffinlo Kewley, Skipper? He used to go to the fishing. He’s been sailing foreign, and he’s home for a sight. He was on the laff to-day, and he was singing sailor songs, and telling yarns, and he kept us going so that we didn’t feel the time passing.
Cowley. Yes, I know him. He was a cook with me. A smart, clean boy, too. His father is a farmer out Greeba way. But they couldn’t make a farmer of Ffinlo. He would go to sea.
Sayle. Well, they were telling on the laff that he’s been at the whale fishing, and the lother day his father was asking how they were catching the whales. So Ffinlo says, “I’ll show you, father.” Then he gave a ball of suggane, to the old man to hold, and he made the end fast to the handle of the grep. Just then a heifer came on the farm street. Ffinlo says, “This grep is the harpoon, and there’s the whale,” and, with that, he stuck the grep in the stern of the heifer, and off she goes, and him singing out, “There she blows! Pay out, father!”
[The Company laugh.]
Cowley. He was always a guilley. He was a cook with me in the “Ant.” We were very lucky that year. We had thirty-five pounds a man at Kingsale, and one day when we were at the ” herrings,” he says, “Ye got to thank me for the good luck, Skipper.” “How’s that?” I says. “Wait, and I’ll tell ye,” says he. “The Flying Scud had thirty-five pounds a man — the same as us.” “Yes,” I says, “so I hear.” “Well, their cook, Tommy Teare, and myself went around one Sunday at midnight with a paper bag. We climbed the railings at the Parish Church, and the Wesleyan and Primitive Chapels, and swept the dust from the front steps into the bag. Then we went around the town, and swept the dust of the lucky skippers’ doorsteps into the bag. So we carried all the luck with us. We took half each, and sprinkled it on the nets the first shot. So there you are. There’s where you got your luck.” What could I say to him. I was bet, clean bet.
Moore. Aw, I know him. A proper daanys. But then there’s a big touch of the click in all the Kewleys. It was in the father before him. Wasn’t I a manservant with the old man before I went to the fishing? Hold on, now, and I’ll tell ye a yarn about Ffinlo. I was shipmates with him the year the Snaefell lost her foremast off Smerwick.
Sayle. Were thou fishing at the West’ard that season?
Moore. Aye. And it was us that towed her into Fenit. And we were took with five thousand mackerel.
Cowley. That was the year the Rover’s Belle made the quick passage to Kingsale?
Moore. Aye. The wind was free, and them carrying the second lugs, with a lump of sheet; and the breeze freshened till it blew a clean snifta. They wouldn’t dare take the sails off her, but every man “standing by” the whole passage. She done it in the twenty-four hours, but the crew all allowed they wouldn’t like to do it again.
Kelly. Well, Mr. Moore, give us the anecdote about Ffinlo.
Moore. Well, it seems there was a cheap-jack selling things at the Weather Glass and Ffinlo bought a lot of grumercy for sixpence, and among it was a bottle of gum. Now, I’ll give in, there isn’t much use for gum on a fishing boat.
Huan. No, by gum!
[The Company laugh.]
Moore. So the gum was put in the spare bed, out aft, to be out of the way. Now we had a big Irishman aboard from Ballycottin. Larry MacAvoy was his name. He was a fellow that was taking good care of himself, but one day Larry left his oilskin trousers too near the boiler funnel, and burnt the knees out of them. Poor Larry was in a terrible way. “Never mind,” says Ffinlo. “I’ll patch them and oil them for you ready for to-night.” Larry was delighted. When the crew were asleep, and Ffinlo keeping anchor watch, me bold Ffinlo got some yellow paper that was wrapped around the soap, and gummed two big paper patches on the knees of the Irishman’s trousers, and then oiled them. Larry put them on to haul next morning, but it wasn’t two minutes until his legs were out through the paper patches, and him wet to the skin. And then the row began.
Cowley. A guilley! A guilley!
Sayle. Aw, a hard case.
Kodhere. Aw, a guilley beg.
[Nora, Kirrie, Huan join in laughter.]
Sayle. Aye, he’s good company. He was telling stories and singing songs that kept us all laughing. There was one song about Phynoderee. I never heard it before, and I cannot get the chorus out of my mind.
Nora. Is it, “Once I danced with Phynoderee?”
Sayle. That’s it, and the chorus is, Shee bannee mee.
Nora. Kirrie can sing it. Dan taught her to sing it. Sing it, Kirrie.
Once I danced with Phynoderee!
Shee bannee mee! Shee bannee mee!
Once I danced with Phynoderee!
Shee bannee mee! Shee bannee mee!
Oh, sweet Glenmaye, and Cronk-ny-Irree Laa,
Where fairies dwell,
By stream and dell,
Oh, Oh, hear their merry laughter!
The fairies came with the Lhiannan Shee!
Shee bannee mee! Shee bannee mee! etc.
We tripped o’er the green hills by the sea,
Shee bannee mee! Shee bannee mee! etc.
Oh, ’twas a night of revelrie!
Shee bannee meel Shee bannee mee! etc.
Kirrie. I do like the old-fashioned songs; those like you used to sing, Daa. [Coaxingly] Sing one of them again.
Cowley. How will “Blow the Man Down” do? or, “Hoist the Big Jib,” or, “Roll the Cotton Down?”
Sayle. Thou have got a good voice, Skipper. Give us, “Hoist the Big Jib,” and we’ll join in the chorus.
Cowley. I’m feeling shy before so many of ye. However, this is the song they are singing when they are leaving Ireland and the Irish girls, after the mackerel fishing.
Hoist the big jib! Set the topsail!
Stand by sheets and halliards there!
Homeward bound to Elian Vannin,
Up the Channel we will steer.
Rolling home, rolling home,
Rolling home across the sea;
Rolling home to Ellan Vannin,
Rolling home, dear land, to thee.
Irish colleens, we shall miss you,
Forced by fate from you to steer;
Laughing blue eyes, raven tresses,
Still to memory you are dear.
Rolling home, etc.
Vannin Veg Veen, we are coming,
Sailing, villish, o’er the foam;
Sweethearts, mothers, wives and children,
Never more abroad we’ll roam.
Rolling home, etc.
There’s more verses, but that is enough.
Nora. I like the songs that sailors make better than those they sing at concerts about “The Rolling Sea.” There’s something strong, and fresh, and free in the real sea songs. You cannot buy the music or the words in the shops, either. These songs make you feel the surge of the sea, and the heaving of the waves. They remind you of the sea breezes, and the gulls; and they make you feel that life in the open air is a beautiful thing.
Chalse. Thou’re right, veen. Life is more beautiful than most people know, and the loveliest things are for nothing. Money won’t buy the best things.
Kodhere. Right thou are, Chalse. Right thou are.
Chalse. The joys of life are not sold in shops.
Kelly. You are a mystic. Chalse.
Chalse. What’s that? Nothing bad, I hope?
Kelly. Not at all; not at all. I mean that you see life from a different standpoint from –
Chalse. Maybe, maybe. I’m seeing the lovely things every day. I’ve been seeing them ever since I was a little boy.
Kirrie. Did you ever see the fairies, Chalse?
Chalse. Yes, child veen, often, often; but ye only laugh when I’m telling ye, and I’m telling the real truth.
Kirrie. Tell us, Chalse.
Nora. We won’t laugh. We like to hear about the little people. [Spoken gently.]
Moore. Go on, Chalse, man.
Kelly. Yes, we are all interested.
Cowley. Thou have done nothing but listen all the beginning of the night. It’s thy turn now.
Chalse. I’m not understanding these things, at all, but I’m seeing them and hearing them. I’ve been seeing and hearing strange things all my life. Life is very strange, and very wonderful. Maybe I’m different than other people. I don’t know. But the Lhiannan Shee called me when I was a boy, and I’ve followed her all my life, and people have been laughing at me ever since. [To himself] But I had to follow —
[Falls into a reverie.]
Nora [gently] Tell us about the Lhiannan Shee.
Chalse. Ye won’t laugh at me?
All. No, Chalse, no.
Chalse. When I was a boy I was like other boys, I expect, and yet I always liked to be alone. I liked to listen to the wind. It seemed like voices of things. And the sound of the leaves stirring in the trees seemed like the whispering of creatures of another world telling secrets. And the sky seemed that strange it would make ye afraid . If ye’ll just keep quiet — quiet, and just
look into it, and keep on looking, — looking, — ye’ll get frightened at the wonder of it, and what’s the meaning of it. [Absorbed in himself] If ye’ll keep quiet on a fine day, and shut your eyes, and listen to the birds, and the humming of the bees, and the rustling of the long grass. It’s like being in heaven. [In ecstasy] Aw, the joy! and the lovely it is! and the happy ye feel! — Heaven couldn’t be nicer. It’s all in yourself, and that’s the way Heaven must be, I’m thinking. [Sadly] And there’s someones wouldn’t be happy there. It’s not the place that’s making ye happy. It’s in yourself. — Yes!
[Falls into silence.]
Nora. Well, the Lhiannan Shee, Chalse?
Chalse. Yes, veen! One day I was lying in the long grass, feeling that happy I couldn’t tell ye. Maybe I was in a jerrude, or asleep. I’m not sure. But I saw a girl in a soft green dress going to the trammon tree in our garden hedge, and she took a drink from a little hollow in the fork of the branches. Then she came over to me, and with such a gennal smile offered me a drink.
I took it — only a few drops in a leaf — and then I felt myself changing. I can’t tell ye the feeling, but I changed. The body seemed left behind. Away I went, as if being was only feeling I Aw, the lovely it was! No walking, or running, or getting tired, only a happy feeling. We went away together, me following her, and she was that kind to me, always smiling so genital and leading me up, up! We seemed to be where, instead of air. there was music, and we breathed harmony like we breathe air in this world. There didn’t seem to be country or sky, only soft shades of colours, that kept changing, and melting into each other. We came to where there were other ones, and they were all happy and singing. Aw! Aw! the beautiful it was! I couldn’t stand it, and I reached out my hand to take the Lhiannan Shee that was leading me. [Sadly] And then all went away, and I found myself back in our garden, feeling so lonely ‘and cold and miserable.
[Relapses into silence, men smoking quietly.]
Kirrie. Did you see the Lhiannan Shee again, Chalse?
Chalse. Wait, villish, I’ll tell ye. I went about for a long time like a thing that wasn’t right, and then one day I remembered the little hollow in the trammon tree. And I went to look, but it was dry, and there wasn’t any rain for a long while. At last, there came what they are calling little fairy showers. Ye know, lil’ skits of rain, and the sun shining all the time; like when the childher are saying, the fairies are baking and throwing the water away. Well, I ran to the trammon tree, and there was a lil’ dub of water in it. I got a vervine leaf, and dipped up the few drops like a man perishing for a drink. I lost my body again, but I found the Lhiannan Shee, and we went away together into the strangeness. Aw, the lovely it was! And still I was something different than her. I felt there was something keeping us apart. I wanted to be with her always, — always, but she said I couldn’t, for I was living in the body and I could only see her sometimes when the strange power was given to me. I said, I will hold you! You must not leave me! But when I tried to take her to me — I was back in the body.
Nora. Poor Chalse, and what did you do?
Chalse. Villish! I met her times and times, and we were that happy I couldn’t tell; but I always had to leave her and come back. At last I said to her, “If I cannot stay with you, come into my world and live with me, and we’ll always be happy together.” “How can that be?” she asked. I said, “There’s the Silver Well behind the green hill by the sea. Its water is holy, and if you will drink a few drops of it you will become of my world, and we’ll never be parted again.” So she came with me. [Absently, in a reverie.] I can see it all now so plain, — the evening sun was sinking behind big purple clouds into the sea. — The sky in the west was all crimson, and gold, and soft shades of green. — There was a pathway of gold dancing over the waves, as if it was inviting us to come away. — The gulls were calling to each other, and the sea was splashing on the shore far below us, — and there we stood by the “Silver Well” and its wonderful water. I had dipped my hand into the water to show her how to drink, and she was stooping over the well, raising the water in the palm of her hand to her lips. Then, I saw some of her friends from the Strange Place rush up to her, and dash her hand from her lips. Some of the water splashed on my face. I felt a cold shiver go through me. I was alone again, the sun had gone down, and the sky and sea were grey and cold.
Nora. Poor Chalse!
Kirrie. Aw, is that the end of the story?
Chalse. I never saw my Lhiannan Shee again, but I’ve heard her calling me. [To himself ] I’ve heard her calling to-night, and some time we will be together again, — together again.
[ The Company sit silent for a short time.]
Kirrie. Poor old Chalse.
Nora. Poor Chalse, poor Chalse.
Moore. Well, I’ll be leaving you all good night.
Sayle. I’ll be going my ways, too.
Cowley. Good night, men.
[They go out together.]
Kelly. I have stayed longer than I intended, too. Good night.
Cowley and Nora. Good night, Mr. Kelly.
Kodhere. Oie vie, Chalse, la! We went to school together, but our ways in the world were different. I’ve been seeking the world and grubbing money and land, and I have got them, and they have been a curse to me. Thou have been looking for higher things, and thou are a happier, and a better man.
[Opens his purse and offers him money.]
Chalse. I am not wanting for anything, thank ye.
Kodhere. Take it to please me, la.
Chalse. Well, well, man. Thank ye, thank ye.
Kodhere. Oie vie, Chalse. Oie vie, Cowley. Good
Chalse. Oie vie, boght.
Cowley. Oie vie, Kodhere.
Nora and Kirrie and Huan. Good night, Mr. Watterson.
Cowley. Kirrie and Huan, run off to your beds. Look at the time.
[They say “good night” and go out.]
Nora. I’ll go too, father. Good night, Chalse.
Chalse. Good night, veen, and may the Good Man bless you.
Cowley. Put this blanket on thee, Chalse. Thou will be all right on the settle; and there is some supper on the chiollagh. [Goes to the door and looks at the sky.] The wind has gone around to the west’ard, and the tide is ebbing. There will be a change, and a fine day to-morrow. Oie vie, Chalse. Gow dty aash, gow dty aash, la.
Chalse. Oie vie, Cowley. As y Chiarn bannee uss, as lught-thie.
[Cowley retires and Chalse is left alone.]
Everybody is that good and kind to me, I am wanting for nothing. There are things this world cannot give and money cannot buy, and they are the best things after all.
[He kneels in prayer by the settle. The Orchestra plays “Marroon, O Colb ec shee,” or other soft, solemn music. The lights go out slowly.]
Cowley’s Kitchen, early next morning. The sunshine is streaming in. The old beggarman has died during the night, while on his knees by the settle, in the attitude of prayer. The voice of Nora is heard singing. The sound comes nearer.
Oh, sweet Glenmaye, and Cronk-ny-Irree Laa,
Where fairies dwell,
By stream and dell,
Oh, Oh, hear their merry laughter!
[Nora enters the kitchen, fastening her apron strings, She sees Chalse kneeling. Stops and retires quickly, thinking him to be engaged in prayer. After a short time she comes in again. Sees Chalse motionless. Goes nearer. Looks alarmed. Buns out, and is heard calling.]
Nora. Father! Father! Come here. There is something wrong with old Chalse.
[Cowley hurries in. Goes up to the kneeling figure, and realizes that Chalse is dead. He turns to Nora, who stands timidly near the door.]
Cowley. Poor Chalse. Gone out with the tide; gone into “the strangeness.” Nora, veen, slip over to Moore’s and ask him to come over here.
[Nora runs out. Moore comes back with Nora. Cowley, without a word, points to the body and then raises his hand, pointing significantly upwards. Nora stands near the door.]
Sayle. Have thou heard of Kodhere, Skipper?
Cowley. No, man, no.
Sayle. Gone home last night. Went off in his sleep.
Cowley. Well, well! Thou’ll get leave. [Pointing towards the settle.] Chalse has gone home, too.
Kodhere’s farmhouse kitchen. A large room. Good substantial furniture. Has a wide old-fashioned fireplace, a well stocked dresser and shelves, gun and dollans on the laths. An old grandfather’s clock stands by the wall. There are two windows on opposite sides of the room. Liza Kinnish, a sturdy servant girl, is bustling about. She speaks in a tone of annoyance.
Liza Kinnish. ‘Deed, and I’m off for Hollantide. I wouldn’t stay with the joushag. There’s not been a bit of rest since Himself died. I could do with him, poor man, though he was rather hard to do with sometimes; but Herself, a clean dirt! A dirt! But I’m not going to be a slave for her.
Huan. Liza, Nora sent me to see if you could spare a penn’orth of new milk?
Liza. Yes, cree. Go and get a jug, and, Huan, tell Nora I got a new Sunday hat in Peel last night. I’m going to put it on for the anniversary at Glenmaye on Sunday. And tell Nora I took her advice, and wouldn’t have the pink and yellow flowers. Say I said she has good taste, and it’s lovely.
Huan [confused with description of millinery]. Ye took her advice and you are not going to the anniversary, — and you have got lovely yellow flowers in your new Sunday hat.
Liza [in motherly voice]. Never mind, boght, I’ll tell her all about the hat myself.
Huan. All right, Liza. [Runs away.]
[Enter Mrs. Watterson.]
Mrs. Watterson. Are thou getting into the habit of talking to thyself, Liza?
Liza [curtly]. No.
Mrs. Watterson. And who were thou talking, to, then?
Liza. Huan Cowley.
Mrs. Watterson. And were thou telling that child that I was a joushag and a dirt, and that thou wouldn’t stay longer than Hollantide?
Liza [snappishly]. No, I wasn’t, and I’m not a sheet neither, listening behind doors.
Mrs. Watterson. Who were thou telling it to then?
Liza. I was talking to myself.
Mrs. Watterson. And that’s the very thing I asked thee when I came in, “Were thou talking to thyself?” And thou said, “No.” And now thou are saying thou were. Try and tell the truth, woman, do.
Liza [curtly]. Thou are too smart and clever for me. Thou better get another servant for Hollantide.
Mrs. Watterson. It’s thee that’s smart, Liza Kinnish, selling other people’s milk. Who told thee to sell penn’orths of milk? How do I know what thou are selling, when I’m out?
Liza. Don’t measure other people by your own kishan.
Mrs. Watterson. Ye imperant slut! Take ye notice for Hollantide.
Liza. You are too late, woman. I gave you notice yesterday, before, but you were that busy watering the milk you didn’t mind.
Mrs. Watterson [angrily]. Don’t back-answer me! Go out and help them ones in the field to thin the turnips, and don’t show thy face till dinner time, and learn to hold thy tongue.
Liza. My tongue is my own, and I’ll speak when I like, and it’s glad I am to get out of ‘this house and go among decent people.
Mrs. Watterson. That bold slut is the plague of my life. Well, I got the house to myself at last. I’m nearly worried to death. I cannot carry this will around with me all the time, and I’m afraid to burn it. To think of Himself making a will in favour of Dan Quilliam, the very day before he died! It’s some of them Cowleys’ one’s doings. That Nora is trying to grab Dan, and they collogued the old man to settle the farm on Dan, so that she would be the mistress here. I daren’t leave the will in any chest, or drawer, for I wouldn’t trust that Liza. She is bound to be skeeting in every place when I’m out of the house. [An idea strikes her.] I know what I’ll do. There’s that hole in the chimney, where the big stone fell out of last winter. That’s a good hiding place. I’ll put it there. There’s not a living soul knows about that hole, and then I can swear at Court that I never destroyed the will. I’ll go out back and see if Liza is in the field. It’ll never do for her to come in and catch me, or she’d spread the news all over the parish.
[Goes out at back door.]
[Enter Huan with milk jug and penny. He whistles, and beats time by hitting jug with penny.]
Huan. Nobody in? [Louder] Nobody in?
[Walks around room examining furniture. Admires gun. Comes to grandfather ‘s clock. Opens it. Touches pendulum.]
I wonder could I make it go quicker?
[ Works pendulum rapidly, hitting it against the sides of the clock. Hears someone coming, and, in alarm, gets into the clock and pulls the door to, his finger only showing.]
Mrs. Watterson. It’s all right, there’s nobody about the place. I’ll never get such a chance again.
[She takes the will from her bosom, and places it in a narrow jar. Puts the inverted jar in a jug. Gets upon a chair, and so into the chimney. Huan opens the door in wonder; sees Mrs. Watterson half up the chimney. Gets out softly, grabs his jug and runs out. Mrs. Watterson tumbles off the chair in alarm, and shows her face smudged with sooty finger marks.]
What in the world was that? I heard something walking in the room. [Drops in terror into a chair.] There’s something taking that’s not right. Maybe it was Himself come back. Maybe it was his spirit.
[Sits down dejectedly. Suddenly newspaper blows from chair near the open door across the room. She starts up in fright>]
What was that? Oh, only the newspaper, and the wind is blowing right in. I’m getting that nervous I’m not fit for anything. I really thought it was Himself come back again. I’ll not stay here to-day. I’ll have a change, and go over to Ronnag to see Annie. She’s often saying I’m never putting a sight on her. I’ll have a day out, as the saying is. I’ll put the pot on with some priddas and herring. That is good enough for workers in the field, and let them do with it. I’ve counted the eggs, so that I’ll know if there are any missing, and I’ll lock up the tea and sugar, and the loaf bread, and I’ll be back again by tea time. And, if I am a bit late, let them wait till their hurry is over. I’ll leave the door on the latch. Liza may be a sheet but I idon’t think she would take anything for all. [She dresses to go out as she talks.] Will I go over to the turnip field and tell Liza I’m going? No! I don’t see why I should run after a servant. I’ll leave a note on the table.
[ Writes a note, which she pins on table, and goes off.]
[Enter Nora with milk jug.]
Nora. Anybody in? [Louder] Anybody in? She must have gone into the garden, and me waiting for the milk to make a pudding for dinner. There is no depending on that boy. I sent him here long ago for the milk.
[Huan comes in. Takes Nora’s hand.]
Huan. There’s nobody in, Nora. Mrs. Watterson has gone off to the south.
Nora. Gone to the south! And what’ll I do for milk? Why didn’t you come back from your message? And where’s the penny?
[Slaps him on the back.]
Huan. I was afraid till I saw her go off by the road to the south.
Nora. What do you mean, Huan? Wait! [Reads note: “I have gone for the day to see my sister Annie at Ronnag.”] Well, Huan?
Huan. I came in with the jug, and there was nobody in, so I had a look at the works of the clock, and I made it go quick, and then it stopped, and [whimpering] I’m afraid it’s spoiled.
Nora [crossly]. Why did you meddle with the clock?
Huan. I didn’t mean to do any harm, but when I was looking at the work’s I heard Mrs. Watterson coming, so I opened the door wide, and hid inside.
Nora [in surprise]. You got in the clock?
Huan. Yes, and I pulled the door to. But I peeped out, and saw Mrs. Watterson get on a chair and go up the chimney.
Nora [in amazement]. Get on a chair and go up the chimney? What a boy! How could she go up the chimney? What would she go up the chimney for?
Huan. I don’t know, but she did it.
Nora [to allay suspicion]. Aw, maybe to clean it.
Huan. Yes, I suppose so.
Nora. Well, never mind; don’t tell anyone, or you might get into trouble for stopping the clock. Run off to school now. [He goes off.] This is strange. The house left without a soul in it. Liza out thinning turnips. Herself gone for the day to Ronnag, after having a sight up the chimney. What’s the meaning of it all, I wonder? I’ll look to see that she has really gone, and then have a sight up the chimney, and say nothing to anybody. [Looks out of south window.] Yes, she is nearly at the Round Table now, and Liza is out in the turnips, and the manservant is away with the horses. It seems an impudent thing to do, but I may never get the chance again. [Hesitates.] Suppose somebody came in and found me in the chimney? It’s nothing to me. I had better go my ways home. [Goes to door reluctantly.] I wonder what Herself was doing in the chimney? There’s something strange about it all. I might as well have a look, I’m not going to steal anything. [Makes up her mind and acts quickly.] I’ll do it.
[Throws apron over her hair. Takes matches. Gets on chair. Goes into chimney, and finds jug. Takes it down. Examines it and finds will, and glances over it in excitement.]
It’s Kodhere’s will. Well, I never! And here’s Dan’s name. Oh, let me see! [Reads parts aloud.] Farm and stock – to my son known as Daniel Quilliam, of Peel, fisherman. – The farm is left to Dan! The farm is left to Dan! [Breathes heavily with excitement.] Well!
[Holds up both hands in astonishment. The will flutters to the floor. She picks it up and waves it around her head with joy, and rushes out. She returns immediately, and, with more composure, folds will and places it in her bosom. Replaces jug in chimney, snatches her own milk jug and runs out.]
Ten o ‘clock at night, same day. The room is lighted by a lamp. Liza sits near the table taking down her hair. She yawns in a sleepy fashion.]
Liza. I wonder what is keeping Herself? She must have stayed for the night with her sister at Ronnag. It’s getting cold. I think I will go to bed, I’ll leave the door on the latch.
[She turns lamp low, lights a candle, and, as she leaves the room, she looks in the glass and says.]
I’ll come back just now and try my new Sunday hat on.
[Enter Mrs. Watterson.]
Mr. Watterson. Aw dear! I shouldn’t have stayed so long at Annie’s. [Turns up lamp, and sinks heavily into the arm chair.] I’m afraid I’m failing, and I’m that upset I daren’t rest. Well, the will is safe in hidlands anyway. I’ll have a sight to see that it is safe, and then I’ll make a cup of tea.
[She takes off her bonnet and shawl, goes to the chimney and takes down jug. Examines jar, and, finding it empty, looks up in bewilderment just as Liza enters room in her white nightdress, carrying her new hat. Mrs. Watterson screams, and falls fainting into the arm chair behind her. Liza rushes to aid her, places her comfortably, and says.]
Liza. Oh, she’s fainted! What better I do? I’ll run over for Moore’s wife.
[Liza throws on her red petticoat, wraps a shawl over her shoulders. Then observes that Mrs. Watterson is recovering, and runs to assist her.]
Mrs. Watterson [mumbling]. His spirit! His spirit!
Tynwald Fair Day, July 5th. Kodhere’s kitchen.
Long table, with supper dishes. The meal is over, and the guests are preparing to depart. The room is lighted by candles set in shining brass candlesticks.
Kelly. Well, my friends, I am sure I speak for you all in saying that our heartiest good wishes to-night are given to our host and his charming bride. We trust they may be long spared to live with us in health, happiness, and prosperity. I am not going to say anything further –
Sayle [with mock seriousness]. Hear, hear!
Kelly. As I think Mr. Thomas Sayle is anxious to address you –
Moore, Quirk, Kirrie, Liza. [Call out.] A speech, Tommy!
Sayle. Not a word. [Shyly] I never made a speech in my life.
Liza. Begin this way, Tommy. Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Sayle [who is very uncomfortable, blurts out]. I have great pleasure in seconding the motion put by Master Kelly.
Moore. Well done, Tommy.
Liza. We’ll put thee in the Keys, Master Sayle.
Kelly. Good night, Mr. Quilliam. Good night, Mrs. Quilliam. I am sure you have given us a very pleasant evening. Good night to you all. [Goes.]
Dan and Nora. Good night, Mr. Kelly.
Moore and Wife. Well, man, good night and good luck. I’ll have to be calling thee Master Quilliam now. Good night, Nora, girl, — I mean Mrs. Quilliam.
Dan and Nora. Thank you both. Good night.
[The Moores go out.]
Quirk. Well, Mrs. Quilliam, so thou see thou are going to be a farmer’s wife after all.
Nora. Aw, yes, but Dan says we’ll be taking the butter and eggs to Peel in a boat. It’ll be so much handier than a cart.
Quirk. Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, well, please yourself. Have your own way! Good night, and good luck to you, anyway
Dan and Nora. Good night. Good night.
Sayle. Well, good night to the pair of ye. [Shakes hands with Dan and Nora.] Thou’re a lucky man, Dan Quilliam, but thou are deserving thy luck, and thou’ll not be after forgetting the poor fishermen.
Liza. Poor fishermen, dy-ghra. Thou are not a poor fisherman, Tommy Sayle. Why aren’t thou taking a lil croft thyself? Thy money is only going mouldy in thy stocking, man.
Sayle. Hold thy tongue, Liza; thou’ll never get a man with a tongue like that.
Liza. I wouldn’t have thee, anyway.
Sayle. I don’t know about that. Don’t make any rash promises to Quirk till I’ve had a lil cooish on thee, when we will have more time.
Liza [feigning shyness]. Get out of this with thee.
Mrs. Watterson. Well, I’m not a body that is bearing spite, and I’m wishing you both well. There have been strange goings on, and terrible changes taking place lately. Thou’ll get leave, and these things have got to be. And I’m not one that is going to fight against Providence. We can’t on these things, and how all the changes have come about is a mystery. I’m thinking there’s spirits in it. I’ve heard strange things in the house after Himself died. .I’ll own I was in a way when I found thou were putting thy father’s will in, Dan. I’ll give in, I said hard things about thee that thou didn’t deserve, and I’m sorry for it now that I know thee better. But maybe these things are all, working for the best after all. I’ll be a near neighbour, and if there’s anything I can do for thee, Nora, let me know, and I’ll be glad to help both of you, if I can.
Liza. Thou’re forgetting she’ll have me, for I’m staying on with her.
Mrs. Watterson [ignoring Liza]. There is one bit of advice I would give thee, Mistress Quilliam, and it is this: keep thy servant in her proper place.
[speaking with dignity.]
Liza. Hear that one ordering! What has she got to do in this house? Why doesn’t she mind her own business? I have got a mistress now that it will be a pleasure to work for.
Nora. Hush, Liza.
Mrs. Watterson [who has lingered to hear Liza]. Good night to you.
Dan and Nora. Thank you. Good night.
Liza. Mind the step.
[Cowley, Dan, Huan, Nora and Kirrie shake hands with each other in hearty fashion, The girls kiss good night Liza slips out.]
Curtain rises immediately. Dan and Nora alone before the fire. Dan is seated in his father’s arm chair, with one arm around Nora’s shoulders. She sits on a low stool nestling against her husband. They are deep in a jerrude (reverie), gazing into’ the fire, and the future. The fire-light throws a warm glow over their happy, trustful faces.
Augh, Oh! Indeed.
Bart of bons, a bundle of sticks.
Boght, poor — term of endearment.
Boghnid, foolish talk.
Chiollagh, hearth stone.
Clew, a branch.
Click, a touch of mischief.
Chree, heart — term of endearment.
Cooish, confidential chat.
Collogued, over persuaded.
Daanys, mischievous boy.
Dy ghra, indeed! (incredulous).
Ellan Vannin, Isle of Man.
Guilley, a boy.
Grep, a manure fork.
Grummercy, a mixed assortment.
Illiam Kodhere.William Watterson.
Jerrude, a reverie.
Joushag, a termagant.
Kisban, an eight quart measure.
La, lad — term of endearment.
Laff, loft, net loft.
Lhag, a hollow.
Lhiannan Shee, the peace fairy, fairy queen.
Nobs, home-made toffee.
Oie vie, good night.
Phynoderee, a satyr.
Shee bannee mee, peace, bless me!
Snifta, a strong breeze.
Suggane, straw rope.
Traa-dy-liooar, time enough.
Tramman, elder tree.
Vervine, vervain, verbena officinalis.
Oie vie, Chalse, gow dty aasb, gow dty aash, la, Good night, Chalse, take thy rest, take thy rest, lad.
Oie vie, Cowla, as y Chairn bannee uss, as lught-thie, Good night, Cowley, the Lord bless thee and thy household.
Marroon, “O Colb ec Shee,” Dirge, M O Body at Rest.” (“Manx National Music,” page 95.)
“Manxland at its best, Manxmen and Manxwomen as they are, illustrating the poetry, pathos and humour that underlie their lives.” [Isle of Man Examiner]
Perhaps Christopher Shimmin’s most successful play, Illiam Kodhere’s Will combines impressively both of the author’s intentions; to entertain audiences and to celebrate the traditional Manx way of life.
The play was first performed at the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas, 13 January 1913, by the Peel Players with Shimmin himself in the part of Dan Quilliam. The plot hangs on Illiam Kodhere repenting for his grasping life and writing a will that leaves his farm and livestock to his illegitimate son, Dan. When Kodhere’s wife tries to frustrate his last wishes by hiding the will, it is up to Dan’s beloved to try and put things right.
Although the plot is relatively straightforward, the play goes a lot deeper in the remarkable amount of stage-time devoted to creating a strong sense of Manx place, character and mood. It is clear that a major point of the play was its daring attempt to put the traditional Manx way of life on stage. That a play with this structure was as successful as it was tells us a lot about the environment in which it was produced during the 1910s.
In this it is not only a wonderful piece of drama, but also an intriguing historical document from perhaps the most exciting period for the creative arts on the Isle of Man.
“I’ve been seeing and hearing strange things all my life. Life is very strange, and very wonderful.”
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.