By Victor O’D. Power
One fine harvest evening, some years ago, I was making my way from Ballinbeary to Dunmanway, and I sat down to rest myself as I was crossing the hills by a short-cut to the old house of ‘Ardnadrohid’, where my good kind friends (God bless ‘em both this night!) Dr. O’Connor and his lady always gave ‘Kitty The Hare’ a warm Co. Cork céad míle fáilte!
‘Twas a grand evening, so it was, in the last week of August, and the red sunlight was streaming over the hills and glens all around me, and shining on the gliding waters of the Bandon river as it follows its winding route through the hills and the bogs, and it forever singing and croonawning on its happy way.
I was just after reaching that wild, lonesome spot, known as the ‘Fairy Gardens’ and at the opposite side of the river was a little hazel wood, and I was after catching sight of a sort of tent rigged up in the middle of the little wood, and says I to myself, mossa, “I suppose some gents from the city are after coming down here,” says I, “and they’re living in that little tent,” says I, “and they cooking and managing for themselves.”
And just and this thought crossing my mind, imbeersa, didn’t I hear the sound of voices, and, didn’t I creep round by the side of the hill over the river, and there below me didn’t I spot a little boat, and it shoved in close to the bank, and a tall, fine-looking young man, in a light-grey flannel suit, and he standing on the bank, and he holding by the two hands a handsome young lady, with her yellow hair shining like gold under her big white hat, and her cheeks as pink as apple-blossoms in the month of May.
And, “I’ll wait here again for you tomorrow evening, Rose,” says he, and every word reaching me, and I peeping down from the hillside.
“So be sure to give some excuse to your Uncle Jack and your Aunt Annie,” says he, “and stroll along by the river-bank from Ardnadrohid to meet me.”
And when these words fell on my two ears, imbeersa, I knew well enough who the young lady was, and I guessed the rest of the story.
“So, this is Miss Rose Sweetman, Dr. O’Connor’s own niece – his sister’s daughter, from Macroom,” says I to myself, and I watching the young lady’s lovely little face, and it just like a painted picture that evening.
“And she’s on a visit at her uncle’s house, I suppose,” says I, “and she’s after picking up with this handsome young stranger, unbeknownst to her uncle and aunt,” says I, “and she’s meeting him in secret here by the Fairy Gardens, and he crosses over in his boat from the little hazel wood, where he’s staying in that tent by the trees,” says I.
And, begannies, at that very same minnit, mind you, didn’t Miss Rose Sweetman spot me and I peeping down from the crags, and she blushed up to the two eyes, so she did, and, faix, I drew back, as quick as lightning, and I made by way by a little path in among the hills to Ardnadrohid House, and there were the doctor and his lady, and the pair of them walking up and down the old beech walk right above the river, and Mrs. O’Connor and she leaning on her husband’s arm, for she loved the ground he walked on, so she did, and he loved her, and you wouldn’t meet a grander couple, so you wouldn’t if you travelled from end to end of Munster, God bless and spare them both.
And, “Yerra céad míle fáilte roath, Kitty the Hare,” says the doctor to me the instant minnit he spotted me; and over with himself and his lady to shake hands with me, and nearly to drag me into the house between ‘em.
Molaire! This was ever and always their way, so it was, whenever I’d show my face at Ardnadrohid. Sure, if there was a royal princess, and she to be on her travels through the country, she couldn’t be welcomed in a more warm-hearted way than my noble friends welcomed myself, awonomsa, no matter if I was to pay them a visit every day of the year.
And ‘twasn’t long, you may say, till the doctor’s wife had me planted down at the table in her splendid kitchen, and I eating and drinking anything that I wished to take, why, and I telling the doctor and herself all the news I was after gathering since the last time I spent a few days under their roof.
And we were still shanacheechthing like this, the three of us, mossa, when in walked the lovely young lady I was after seeing west of the Fairy Gardens, and, “Here’s Kitty the Hare for you herself, Rose!” says the doctor and he pulling her over by the shoulder to me, “And this is my sister’s daughter from Macroom, Kitty” says he, “and now I’ll leave the pair of ye to chat together for y ourselves.”
So the doctor and his lady went away and they laughing and waving their hands to me, and Miss Rose Sweetman sat down alongside of me, while Hannie Roche, the maid, was inside the dining room, and she laying the table for the dinner.