DAL ACT 2

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‘Oh play to me, honey; The moon’s high above. Oh, play me your serenade, The song I love … Are you getting your books ready for school again?

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‘Oh play to me, honey; The moon’s high above. Oh, play me your serenade, The song I love … Are you getting your books ready for school again?

1st line of act 2

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God, I always hated school You and I have a little financial matter to discuss. (Pause.) D’you hear me, cub?

School doesn’t start for another ten days

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You owe me money

I’m not listening

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Oh, yes, you do. Three weeks ago I bet you a penny those aul kites would never get off the ground. And they never did.

I do not.

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Enough wind! Would you listen to him. A hurricane wouldn’t shift those things. Anyhow a debt is a debt. One penny please at your convenience. Or the equivalent in kind: one Wild Woodbine. (Sings.) ‘Beside your caravan ‘The campfire’s bright …’

Because there was never enough wind; that’s why.

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. ‘I’ll be your vagabond Just for tonight ..’

Leave me alone, Aunt Maggie.

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Your frank opinion, cub: am I vagabond material?

Now look at what you made me do! The page is all blotted!

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Who to? ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out.’ Whoever it is, he’d need to be smart to read that scrawl.

Get out of my road, will you? I’m trying to write a letter

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In September? Nothing like getting in before the rush. What are you asking for?

It’s to Santa Claus.

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a bell

A bell

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for your bicycle

for my bicycle

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Your daddy has bought you a bicycle?

The bike my daddy has bought me – stupid!

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Your daddy told you that?

He told me today. He bought it in Kilkenny. So there!

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Aren’t you the lucky boy?

Ask him yourself. It’s coming next week. It’s a black bike -- a man’s bike.

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Well, if he promised you … Now! Who can we get to teach you to ride?

It’s going to be delivered here to the house. He promised me.

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You don’t

I know how to ride!

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I can so.

I learned at school last Easter. So there! But you can’t ride.

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Maybe not by myself. But put me on the bar, cub -- magnificent!

I know you can’t.

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Oh yes, I did, Michael. Oh yes, indeed I did. (She gathers up the papers.) Now away and write to Santa some other time. On a day like this you should be out running about the fields like a young calf. Hold on – a new riddle for you.

You never sat on the bar of a bike in your life, Aunt Maggie!

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A man goes to an apple tree with two apples on It. He doesn’t take apples off it. He doesn’t leave apples on It. How does he do that?

Give up.(1)

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Think, will you!

Give up(2)

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Well, since you don’t know, I will tell you. He takes one apple off! Get it? He doesn’t take apples off! He doesn’t leave apples on!

Give up(3)

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You might as well be talking to a turf stack.

God!

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A big posh wedding today.

Did I hear the church bell ringing?

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No such luck. A man called Austin Morgan and a girl from Carrickfad.

Not one of my sisters?

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I don’t think so. They own the Arcade in the town. And how are you today?

Austin Morgan – should I know that name?

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Complain away – why wouldn’t you? And it is getting colder. But you’re looking stronger every day, Jack.

Cold as usual, Maggie. And complaining about it as usual.

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Number three?

feel stronger, too. Now! Off for my last walk of the day.

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Nag – yes; to keep on at somebody

sounds funny – something wrong with that –nag? -- that’s not a word, is it?

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They said they’d be back for tea. They’re away picking bilberries.

No sign of Rose and Agnes yet?

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The very place.

Down beside the old quarry?

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But no butter.

And that’s what you took to school with you every day all through the winter: a piece of soda bread and bilberry jam.

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Here in the house?

Yes, indeed.

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I wouldn’t worry about that. Word gets about very quickly.

How will we let them know?

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Your house boy?

What Okawa does – you know Okawa, don’t you?

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And they all meet in your church?

But if it’s one of the bigger ceremonies, he’ll spend a whole day going round all the neighbouring villages, blowing on this enormous flute he made himself.

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yes

We’ve agree on next Monday, haven’t we? Haven’t we, Maggie?

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shhh

I told you – you wouldn’t believe me – I told you.

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He’s not back a month yet.

What do you think?

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He needs more time

Yesterday I heard about their medicine man who brought a woman back from death –

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He said he’d say Mass next Monday, Kate.

And this morning it was ‘the spirits of the tribe!’ And when I mentioned Mass to him you saw how he dodged about.

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In another month, he’ll be –

No, he won’t. You know he won’t. He’s changed, Maggie.

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Doesn’t frighten me.

Completely changed. He’s not our Jack at all. And it’s what he’s changed into that frightens me.

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All the same, Kitty, I don’t think it’s a sight I’d like to see.

. If you saw your face … of course it does … Oh, dear God -

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A latter of lepers trying to do the Military Two-step.

What sight?

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Chrissie says you’re great with radios, Gerry

He wants to do a swap with me: I’m to give him this hat and he’s to give me some sort of a three-cornered hat with feathers that the district commissioner gave him. Sounds a fair exchange

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All I can tell you is that it’s not the battery I got a new one yesterday

I’ll take a look at it – why not?

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He sounds very knowledgeable.

Let me check the aerial first. Very often that’s where the trouble lies. Then I’ll have a look at the ignition and sparking plugs. Leave it to Gerry

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It’s on.

Turn the radio on, Chrissie, would you?

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They’ll be here soon.

Just as we were coming out of the town we met Vera McLaughlin, the knitting agent (Softly.) Agnes and Rose aren’t back yet?

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Why not?

She’s not buying any more hand-made gloves.

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That’s awful news, Chrissie.

There’s a new factory started up in Donegal Town. They make machine gloves more quickly there and far more cheaply. The people Vera used to supply buy their gloves direct from the factory now.

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Oh God … poor Aggie … poor Rose … what’ll they do?

She says they’re organizing buses to bring the workers to the factory and back every day. Most of the people who used to work at home have signed on. She tried to get a job there herself. They told her she was too old. She’s forty-one. The poor woman could hardly speak.

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He’s fixing the aerial.

That clown of a man is up on top of the sycamore. Go out and tell him to come down, Chrissie.

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As long as he fixes the wireless first.

He’s going to break his neck – I’m telling you!

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(run offstage)

She wasn’t feeling well. She left me and went home to lie down. (Pause.) She’s here, isn’t she?

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(enter) She’s not in her bed.

That’s what she said.

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(shake head)

You’re sure she’s not in her bed?

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She may have gone into the town

I think so … yes … I don’t know … Maggie –

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Had she a bottle of milk with her?

Yes; and her blue cardigan and her good skirt. I said to her – I said, ‘ You’re some lady to go picking bilberries with.’ And she just laughed and said, ‘ I’m some toff, Aggie, amn’t I some toff?’

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Had she any money with her?

I think so – yes – in one of her cans.

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Danny Bradley.

. She had half-a-crown. That’s all she has.

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Danny Bradley … Lough Anna … up in the back hills.

What? – who?

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That’ll do, Kate! Stop that at once! (Calmly.) She may be in the town. She may be on her way home now. She may have taken a weak turn on her way back from the quarry. We’re going to find her. (To CHRIS.) You search the fields on the upper side of the lane. (To AGNES.) You take the lower side, down as far as the main road (To KATE.) You go to the old well and search all around there. I’m going into the town to tell the police.

I want to know everything you know! Now! I want to—

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No... I’m going to the police and you’ll do what I told you to do.

You’re going to no police, Maggie. If she’s mixed up with that Bradley creature, I’m not going to have it broadcast all over

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She’s home safe and sound and that’s all that matters. Now I don’t know about you girls but I can tell you this chicken is weak with hunger. Let me tell you what’s on the menu this evening. Our beverage is the usual hot, sweet tea There is a choice between caraway-seed bread and soda bread, both fresh from the chef’s oven. But now we come to the difficulty there’s only three eggs between the seven of us – I wish to God you’d persuade that white rooster of yours to lay eggs, Rosie.

You went into Ballybeg, didn’t you?

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How are there -- ? Of course – the soldier up the sycamore! Not a great larder but a nice challenge to someone like myself. Right. My suggestion is … Eggs Ballybeg; in other words scrambled and served on lighted toasted carawayseed bread. Followed – for those so inclined – by one magnificent Wild Woodbine. Everybody happy.

There are eight of us, Maggie.

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Settled

Excellent, Margaret!

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It’s lying across your bed. And you’d need to bring some turf in, Rose.

I hid them at the quarry behind a stone wall. They’re safe there. I’ll go back and pick them up later this evening. Does anybody know where my overall is?

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Be quick about it.

I’ll change first, Maggie.

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All that loaf. And go easy on the butter – that’s all we have. Now. Parsley. And just a whiff of basil. I don’t want you to be too optimistic, girls, but you should know I feel very creative this evening.

How many pieces of toast do you want?

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What’s that?

Well, at least that’s good news

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Good news indeed.

That the young Sweeney boy from he back hills is going to live.

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I had a brilliant idea when I woke up this morning, Aggie. I thought to myself: what is it that Ballybeg badly needs and that Ballybeg hasn’t got?

GERRY. We never made love on top of a sycamore tree. CHRIS. If you fall and break your neck it’ll be too good for you. Nobody can vanish quicker than that Michael fellow when you need him

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A dressmaker! So why doesn’t Agnes Mundy who has such clever hands, why doesn’t she dressmake?

A riddle. Give up.

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She’d get a pile of work. They’d come to her from far and wide. She’d make a fortune.

Clever hands!

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And not only would the work be interesting but she wouldn’t be ruining her eyes staring at grey wool eight hours a day. Did you notice how Rosie squints at things now? It’s the job for you, Aggie; I’m telling you. Ah, holy God, girls, don’t tell me I’m out of cigs! How could that have happened? Chrissie, you are one genius. Look, Kate. Misery. Happiness! Want a drag?

Some fortune in Ballybeg.

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If I had to choose between one Wild Woodbine and a man of – say – fifty-two – widower – plump, what would I do, Kate? I’d take fatso, wouldn’t I? God, I really am getting desperate. (jack enters) Maybe I should go to Ryanga with you, Jack

Who’s keeping those wonderful Eggs Ballybeg?

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Could you guarantee a man for each of us?

I know you won’t but I know you’d love it.

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Would we settle for that?

I couldn’t promise four men but I should be able to get one husband for all of you

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That’d be you, Kate.

That’s our system and it works very well. One of you would be his principal wife and live with him in his largest hut –

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Snug enough, girls, isn’t it? (To JACK.) And what would be – what sort of duties would we have?

And the other three of you he’d keep in his enclosure. It would be like living on the same small farm

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Sure that’s what we do anyway

Cooking, sewing, helping with the crops, washing – the usual housekeeping tasks.

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That’d he’d have by Kate.

And looking after his children

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And they have hens there, too, Jack

Listen.

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Don’t dismiss it, girls. It has its points. Would you be game, Kate?

We’re overrun with hens.

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Tell me this, Jack: what’s the Swahili for ‘tchook- tchook-tchlok-tchook-tchook’?

Gerry has it going!

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Good work, Gerry.

The plumed hat – the ceremonial hat – remember? We agreed to swap. With you in a second.

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Dance with him, Aggie.

Dance with me. Please. Come on.

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Go on, Aggie.

In olden times a glimpse of stocking Was looked on as something shocking – ‘ Give me your hand.

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I wish to God I could dance like you, Aggie.

There you are. Safe and sound.

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Always did, our Aggie.

Doesn’t she dance elegantly?

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I’ll dance with you, Gerry! Do you want to see real class?

Not now, I said. Are you thick?

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Stand back there, girls. Shirley Temple needs a lot of space.

Certainly do, Maggie

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Hold me close, Gerry. The old legs aren’t too reliable.

Wow-wow-wow-wow-wow!

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What are you at there, Chrissie?

What happened?

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It wasn’t to be, Gerry. But there’ll be another day.

We’re only wasting the battery and we won’t get a new one until the weekend.

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Which of them?

I didn’t tell you, did I – her daughter’s got engaged

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99

Sophia. Is she not still at school?

‘The harvest dance is going to be just supreme this year, Miss Mundy’ – that wee brat!

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Holy God. We may pack it in, girls.

Left last year. She’s fifteen. And the lucky man is sixteen.

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