Jim Casey came into the kitchen and clapped Danny
on the back.
the match. You can go on a visit, the first Friday.”
“What do you mean,
made the match, who to?”
“Peg Malone, don’t
you know Castlegarr, well, just a mile from that, to the right.”
she like? I hope she’s big and strong.”
“You know something,
Danny, she’s a fine girl and is a great cook, so the auld
pair said. You’ll be well in, and the winter’s coming.
Imagine, Danny, coming in from the fields and a fresh soda down
in front of you, and the turf fire blazing. Now wouldn’t
that make any man happy? You’ll go then, that’s Friday
after next. Don’t forget to turn right as you leave Castlegarr,
and it’s on your left-hand side. A two storey house, mind,
so you’ll not miss it.”
Danny sat staring into
the fire after Jim had left. He conjured up many images of Peg
and it made him feel warm and contented. Then he saw a small fat
woman, poking a finger at him and roaring,
“You great oaf. Get out there and feed
those cows, and when you come back, you can get the spuds and
cabbage from the garden, and put them down. If you think I’m
going to be running after you, you may have another thing coming.”
Danny shuffled about in his chair.
“Maybe I’d be better off on my
own. Haven’t I done all right so far?”
He wished his mother were still around, so
he wouldn’t have to make any decisions.
Lying down in bed with the cold sheet below,
he pulled the blankets up over his ears. He thought of Peg beside
him, of her soft, warm flesh, and he was lost in his world of
passion. Which made his mind up.
The brown suit came
out of the moth-balled wardrobe. He hung it up in the hayshed,
to let the wind go through it. For the next ten days, Danny thought
of nothing but Peg, and of the great life that was in front of
him. Jim Casey came again, the following Thursday.
“Go up after the
8 o’clock mass. They’ll be waiting for you. Don’t
forget now, if it works out, my fee is a bit extra.”
On Friday morning, Danny
was up before the light in the sky. He polished his shoes, till
they shone, and greased his hair till it was slick. The suit was
brushed, and spitted on, to take the odd stain out of it. Mr.
What was harnessed and the sidecar got a wet cloth rubbed round
it. He was ready.
In mass he saw nothing
but Peg on the altar. The pony made great haste into Castlegarr,
and on turning right at the end of the town, Danny got a bit anxious.
Peg took on many forms again, and none of them too pleasant. He
arrived at the two storey house and was shaking getting out of
the side-car. An elderly woman came out to greet him. There was
a fine breakfast laid out in the parlour. The Malones asked him
many questions, which he answered very truthfully. Peg was sitting
beside the mother. She was about thirty-eight, with short brown
curly hair. Her features were plain enough, but she had a lovely
homely smile. Danny couldn’t believe his luck getting this
fine woman and him well into his fifties. He promised he’d
give Jim Casey a bonus if all turned out well. Mr. Malone agreed
to the marriage, and Peg just nodded her head and went off into
another room. They settled a deed over a whiskey and Mr. Malone
said they’d set the wheels in motion.
Danny spent the rest
of his day in his own wee village pub. He bought rounds of drink
for the house. They congratulated him on his future marriage.
Some were laughing behind his back.
“Peg Malone, Jesus,
he’ll have his work cut out for him there. Ah, well! I suppose
when you get to his age any auld thing would do.”
The laughter rose. The drinks went on the slate
after awhile, as Danny ran out of money. Everyone was merry, except
Mr. What, who was tied to a pole outside. When no more drink would
go down, Danny walked sideways to the door. He turned around and
made a speech, which no one could understand. Joe Quinn, the publican,
came out and gave him a hand into the cart. Danny took the reins
and fell back into the car. Joe gave Mr. What a slap on the rear
and off he went.
The wedding was arranged
for the 20th October. All the neighbours turned up at the church.
said Mary Walsh.
“They have got rid of her at last. Poor
Danny must be demented, to take her.”
Danny sat at the top of the church, with Spider
Magee, his best man. The priest came out onto the altar and Peg
and her father came down the aisle.
“This is it, man,
hell on earth,” said Spider.
The vows were taken
and Peg slowly pushed the veil up over her face. Danny turned
round to look at her, and the colour went from his face to his
boots. This was not the Peg he met. Here a woman with a sharp
nose, brown teeth and to crown it all, a squinty eye, stood looking
at him. Danny was going to run, but he had taken his vows. Nothing
could be done about it now, he was married and that was that.
He looked around the church, but could not see the other woman.
Did he dream it all? Here he was, married to a fiend. He asked
Mr. Malone outside the church where was the Peg he saw at the
house. Mr. Malone looked at Danny as if he had a few screws missing.
“This is Peg,
my daughter. You agreed to this marriage, so make sure you look
Danny just accepted it all, so Peg went home
It was a daily struggle
to put up with Peg. Her voice was like a fog horn. As for her
baking, he wouldn’t touch a thing she put her hands on.
The settle bed was pulled down in the kitchen, she slept in the
room. He met Jim Casey in Quinn’s one evening, after mass.
“Ah, Danny! I
think you owe me a few bob, after that great match I made you.”
Danny stood still for a minute and then his
fist flew out and caught Jim hard on the jaw. He fell back onto
Casey, I’ll kill you, my life isn’t worth living now.
Who was the girl they showed me? Making a laughing-stock out of
He kicked and kicked at Jim Casey, until Joe
and a few others grabbed hold of him, amazed at Danny’s
“Take it easy,
Danny, good man,” said Joe.
Danny tried to shake them off, but couldn’t.
“You all knew, didn’t you, and
not one of you had an ounce of decency in you, to tell me who
Peg Malone really was. Every one of you were in on this. Just
for a laugh.”
He threw another kick at Jim Casey and went
out and slammed the door.
Mr. What took him home
again. Instead of going into the house, Danny went up the old
road, which ran alongside the house. Paddy O’Grady, his
near neighbour, was the first into town the next morning. It was
he who found Danny, hanging from the tree.
Taken from ‘This is Where We Came In’
(1992), pages 126-128.