Garret MacEniry (8), A Tale of the Munster Peasantry

Patrick Weston Joyce

When age and trouble came at last on Garret, he gradually relinquished his favourite sport, but Bran's love of the mountains never ceased. He still continued to resort to his favourite haunts, and almost every day he repaired to the hills alone to chase the game as when his master accompanied him. He sometimes remained out for two or three days, sleeping on the heath, and subsisting on the prey he managed to catch. In the end however the poor old fellow found this rather a precarious mode of subsistence, for age had blunted the keenness of his nose and stiffened his limbs; and his visits to the hills became less frequent, though they never altogether ceased.

On the day before Mary's death he set out on one of his usual excursions, and just as Garret was preparing to go, he returned. When he came to the cottage and found the door closed, he scratched at it as usual when he wanted to be let in. When he found that the door was not opened, he scampered through the garden and round the little farm searching for his master, but not finding him, he returned again to the cottage; then he scratched violently at the door and listened, walked back to some distance, and looked wistfully at the house, scratched again, whining pitifully, and at length, finding all unsuccessful, he sat down and began to howl in downright agony. Suddenly he jumped up, scampered down through the village, and with that extraordinary certainty with which instinct sometimes directs these animals to find out their masters even in the most hidden places, he bounded in among the group just as the old man was preparing to depart.

Nothing could exceed the wildness of his joy at finding his master so unexpectedly. He jumped upon him, howled and yelped and frisked around him, scampered away to some distance, and instantly returned to jump upon and around him again; then he would crouch motionless on the ground opposite him, and, with a steady eye, look straight in his face for a few moments, then springing suddenly off the ground, would yelp and whine, and play the same gambols over again. A smile—a transient slight gleam of gladness—lighted Garret's features, while a tear stood in his eye, as he looked on his dog, the faithful companion and the only living remnant of his happy days. He had in fact searched closely, inquired, and repeatedly whistled for him that morning: and not being able to obtain any tidings of him, one of his neighbours, by his request, promised to adopt him as his own. This was now rendered unnecessary, as he resolved to take Bran with him. He accordingly set off, with the blessings and regrets of all his acquaintances.