The Evil Eye (6)

These popular stories are provokingly incomplete, and one cannot help regretting that the romance of "The Poet and the Farmer's Daughter" was not brought to a happy termination; but the Irish tales are in general rather incoherent, more like remembered fragments of ancient stories than a complete, well-organized dramatic composition, with lights well placed, and a striking catastrophe. The opening is usually attractive, with the exciting formula, "Once upon a time," from which one always expects so much; and there is sure to be an old woman, weird and witchlike, capable of the most demoniacal actions, and a mysterious man who promises to be the unredeemed evil spirit of the tale; but in the end they both turn out childishly harmless, and their evil actions seldom go beyond stealing their neighbours' butter, or abducting a pretty girl, which sins mere mortals would be quite equal to, even without the aid of "the gods of the earth" and their renowned leader, Finvarra, the King of the Fairies. The following tale, however, of a case of abduction by fairy power, is well constructed. The hero of the narrative has our sympathy and interest, and it ends happily, which is considered a great merit by the Irish, as they dislike a tale to which they cannot append, as an epilogue, the hearty and outspoken "Thank God."