Good-bye to Glengariff

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (11) | Start of Chapter

But we must not stop in this glen. The morning had opened, the sun looked out upon a clear sky, and the boy who was to accompany me had eaten his potatoes, and was ready at an early hour. "You shall give us nothing but your prayers, and you shall have ours; and if ye wouldn't think it too much to leave the little book to Mary, she loves it so well, I will cover it with linen, and she shall read it twice a day, we should be more than paid."

This little Mary had entwined herself around my heart by so many acts of kindness, as well as her good sense and integrity, that when she took the little book, and said, "I thank you kindly," I felt like snatching her from the glen, and fixing her in a soil where she should no longer "blush unseen."

Master and Mistress, Mary, and the little affectionate dog Vixen, stood out upon the clean pathway and lawn before the cottage—a moment's pause—"and we'll never forget ye," was the last sound that fell upon my ear; for, as I proffered my hand, and saw the tear glistening in the kind eye of little Mary, I hastened away without speaking.

I looked back, the sun was shining upon this little group; the holly, the arbutus, and the laurel—my favorite shrubs of the glen—were quivering in its rays at their side. I was going forth upon wild, heathy mountains, and should see the little company no more, "till the heavens be rolled together as a scroll." They had been more than kind, and how had I repaid them? Had I done what I could to scatter light in their path? Are they no worse for my coming among them? was my heart-felt inquiry. Have the evening prayers which they nightly asked me to put up in their family, and the reading of the sweet words of eternal life, which for the last ten days had been heard in their dwelling—had these entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and would they return with a blessing upon their heads?

The little Vixen watched the return of the family into the cottage, and leaped after me, keeping the opposite side of the stream till he had entered the thickest of the wood, and then attempted crossing it, nor could we urge him back; and not till the little Mary appeared and turned him away would he leave us, and we soon lost sight of them for ever.

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.