MARY FOLLOWS SHIANA'S EXAMPLE.
She was talking to Michael's mother a couple of days afterwards, and this is how she spoke to her:—
"Hannah," said she, "isn't it a great wonder that Shiana didn't tell you the other day that he was a Céile Dé, and not let us be under a false impression, as he did?"
"He didn't say a word to me, ma'am," said Hannah, "but that it would be better for you to die the worst death anybody ever died than that he himself should marry you."
"He was west at our house a couple of days ago," said Short Mary, "that day that Michael was there; and he said to myself that he was bound before God never to marry. Think of it, Hannah," said she, "of all men in the great wide world, who would think of Shiana being under such a bond? I never was so much surprised in my born days. I tell you," said she, "that he opened my eyes for me. That man, of whom people say that he has no religion, to have such an obligation upon him in the sight of God; and I, who have the reputation of such great piety, to be breaking my heart trying to come between him and God! Isn't that a nice thing, Hannah? I don't know in the earth, or the world either, what took me, or what blinded me, or what dulled my mind and my faculties, that I should do such a thing. What will the neighbours say?"
"Never fear, ma'am, for that part of it. They have settled it already that it was Shiana himself that went west to ask you, and that you refused on the spot, and that then the poor man went out of his mind."
"Dear me," said Mary, "weren't they a short time settling it? What does Shiana himself say to that settlement?"
"Not a word out of his mouth," said Hannah. "And I can tell you there is no fear that anyone will ask him a question; or if anyone does, and he looks that person in the eyes, cut off my ear if he asks a second question."
"He is the most extraordinary man I ever met," said Mary. "It was a long time before I could make out whether he was a bad man or a good one. The first time I saw that look of his, I thought that the Evil One—the sign of the Cross between us and him!—was in his heart, so that I didn't like to meet him on the road, or to speak a word to him. But one night I was coming home from the town, and as I was going along the Broad Road, I had a touch of faintness, and I sat down on a stone in a bend of the fence of the road. I fell asleep, and when I woke up, the little faintness was gone, but it was the very dead of night. I jumped up and set out for home, and I promise you there was no numbness in my feet. It was a fine, sky-bright night. When I was about twenty yards from the cross-roads, who should come up Bohar na Bro but John of the Moon, the cut-throat of a thief!"
"When I saw him," said she, "I thought at once that I was done for. With that I heard somebody walking behind me. I looked over my shoulder. Who should be there but Shiana, with his two eyes blazing, and holding a drawn knife in his hand, a black-handled knife. He passed by me and faced the spirit. At the same moment I saw a flash of flame, and immediately after I saw Shiana in the place, alone.
"'Well, Mary,' said he, 'you have had a great escape to-night. I saw you coming this way, and I wondered what caused you to be out so late. I followed you for fear of this spot. Come away now, and I will see you home safe.'
"I hadn't the strength to speak, and I was hardly able to walk. He did not part from me till he left me west at my father's door. From that day to this no one, old or young, has heard a word from his lips about the affair. The next morning there was found at the cross-roads a lump of jelly the size of my fist, with a black-handled knife stuck in it. And I don't think anyone has seen John of the Moon since in the place. I thought it was a great deed on Shiana's part to put his own life into that danger for my sake, and I began to feel a very great regard for him. Indeed, Hannah, I can't tell you what a state my mind was in from that night until that day that he went west to tell me that there was some bond or obligation between himself and God, and that it was impossible for him to marry. I thought then that probably it was that bond that gave him the power over the evil spirit. I have always heard that people who were altogether given up like that to God had power to defeat the Evil One. When he told me that he was bound before God never to marry, I took the same vow upon myself in the sight of God. And do you know, Hannah, no sooner had I taken it, than it seemed to me that whatever evil thing it was that was in my mind, it went from me at that moment. You saw yourself the state I was in that day that I asked you to do a certain thing for me. When I think of it now I fancy I must really have been out of my senses to some degree. Whatever it was that was wrong with me, it is clean gone—great thanks be to the God of Glory for it!"
"Amen, O Lord!" said Hannah.
Peg.—He was a mortal man at first, and he was a thief, and he used to be out at night stealing, by moonlight. His name was John, and they called him John of the Moon as a nickname, because of the stealing. He used to be in Bohar na Bro at night, watching the people who would be coming along the road late in the night, and he used to rob them. At last he killed a man there on a dark night, and after a while he killed another. Then those people's friends came and hid themselves near the road, and when it was pretty late in the night one of them went out on the road and pretended to be drunk. John was watching too, and when he saw the drunken man, as he thought he was, he jumped out and attacked him. Then they all jumped out, and John of the Moon was killed. And from that time onward the ghost used to be seen in Bohar na Bro, and "John of the Moon" stuck to the ghost as its name.
- "Spouse of God," the name of an order of monks in very early Christian times in Ireland; usually anglicised "Culdee."
- i.e., bright by reflection, the moon itself not being visible.
- Bóṫar na Bró, "the road of the big flat stone."