“He stared at me with two of the deadest blackest eyes I had ever seen in my life…”
‘Tis a queer tale I have for you this cold night, and if you sit in to warm your hands by the fire I’ll tell you all about the time I was passing through the village of Ring, in the County Waterford, and I happened to stop off for a few nights at the home of Marsha Ryan.
Marsha was the kindest-hearted woman you’d ever be fortunate enough to happen on, imbeersa, and she was married to a fine handsome farmer called Jim, who worked the farm morning, noon and night.
Jim Ryan had done such a fine job on managing the farm, his father and mother had left him, that it was after spreading into one of the finest properties in that part of Waterford, and he was always looking for an extra pair of hands to help him out, once the same pair of hands was interested in a good honest hard day’s work, mossa.
And, all in all, a good fifteen or twenty hardy young men and women came and went about the Ryan’s farm on any given day, caring for the animals, getting ready for the harvest, saving the hay, and what have ye.
And I was sitting out in the yard supping on a mug of tae with Marsha and she telling me all about their five children and what was going on in their lives when a skinny thin-faced sandy-haired young fellow with a hooked nose passed me by, and he carrying a couple of buckets of hen feed in both of his hands.
He neither lifted his head to look at the pair of us, nor threw us any sign of a greeting as he passed us by, and he looked for all the world as if he was carrying the weight of it on his broad shoulders, mossa fain.
“You’d wonder what a young fellow like that would have on his mind to be so dour about,” says I to Marsha, and, imbeersa, she leant in a bit closer to me and started whispering.
“I don’t like the cut of him at all at all, Kitty,” says Marsha Ryan, “he only arrived here a few weeks ago, out of the blue, saying he had left home and was looking for enough work to pay for a passage to America eventually.
“And he told us nothing more about who he was or where he came from only that his name was Butler, and that he grew up in Westmeath…I think he’s a runway!