A profitable Sixpence

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XI (4) | Start of Chapter

Now, kind friends, if you have followed me through rain and storm to Roscrea, remember the sixpence given to the poor woman when I passed through the town, and mark its progress. I stood, not knowing what to do. In a hotel I could not get a bed, for want of money. A voice from a dark corner called out, "Aint ye the American lady that went through here a few weeks since?" I answered that I was. "I've heard of you, and you shall have a bed if I sit up. You kept a cabin over a poor woman's head, and God won't let you stay all night in the stawrm." The mistress was in bed; this woman went to her, told her who I was, and extolled my excellencies so vividly, that the mistress said, "I have a bed in the garret where the servant sleeps, but there is nothing but a ladder that leads to it. I could give her clean sheets, and a chaff bed, but am ashamed to offer such a place." I heard it, and said, "A ladder is no objection; give me clean sheets, and all will be well." The mistress arose, made me a cup of coffee, and brought bread and butter, and put me in a situation to dry my clothes. I ate some bread, and took a "sup" of milk, ascended the ladder, and never slept sweeter. "Cast thy bread upon the waters and after many days thou shalt find it." I had found my bread in the place where I left it, and at the very time I most needed it. But for that trifling sixpence, I should probably have staid under some hedge that night, or been walking upon the street on my way to Urlingford.

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.