Garret Mac Eniry (concluded), A Tale of the Munster Peasantry

Patrick Weston Joyce

He started in surprise and alarm, and looked at the old man, who had suddenly dropped the piggin from his hand. His body had shot up to its full height, though he still remained sitting—his open hands were thrown a little forward—his mouth half opened—and he stared dazed and astonished at the farmer. For a considerable time he remained perfectly unconscious of what passed around him.

The farmer stood up, and, laying his hand on his shoulder, attempted to rouse him. "Yerra! honest man, what ails you—sure, murdher alive, I wouldn't say anything for the world that id offind you. Oh! monom a yee, I'm in dhread he's gettin' into a fit, the Lord purtect uz! I suppose the crathur is bate all out wid the long journey an' the hardship, an', God help him, may be wid hunger too. Yerra, girls come here and thry"------Here he was interrupted by the low accents of Garret. "Roger Mac Eniry, did you say—eh?" and he peered closely into his face. "Roger Mac Eniry! Oh, that can't be; dheeling, that can't be! You, my fair-haired brother Roger, that used to hunt wid me long ago on the side o' Seefin!" The poor old fellow's senses still wandered.

The fact was, he had met no one from whom to make an inquiry within the last six miles; before that, though all could direct him to the townland, yet no one could tell him of "one Roger Mac Eniry that lived there"; and with that unaccountable tendency to depression that seizes the heart as the moment draws nigh that is to determine success or failure, all hope of finding his brother had very nearly abandoned him. It is therefore not to be wondered at that, worn with the fatigue of a long journey, his mind depressed with sorrow, and harassed by uncertainty approaching to despair, the unexpected discovery of his brother should overcome him. When to this we add that he had always cherished the memory of his brother as he was when they parted; and though of course he knew that age must have produced the usual effect, yet his memory obstinately refused to change its object, and still recalled the image of "his fair-haired brother Roger, that used to hunt wid him on the side of Seefin." In the sudden perplexity of his feelings he found it impossible to reconcile these traces of his brother that clung to his memory, with the aged man that now stood before him, and for a considerable time he could not bring himself to believe in the reality.

It was now, however, the farmer's turn to be surprised. "God of mercy," he exclaimed, as he grasped Garret's two hands in his and looked in his face; "is it to my own brother I'm spakin' all this while. Garret, a drahaar machree, is it you. Sure, Garret, I'm Roger, your own brother Roger; don't you know me and won't you spake to me;" for Garret was only beginning to collect together his scattered faculties, though tears streamed plentifully down his wrinkled face. "Garret, avourneen, sure it is I that's here alive an' well, glory be to God for bringin' uz together once more."

We shall not attempt to describe further the happiness of the brothers on meeting after so many years' separation, or the joy of the youngsters on finding their "uncle Garret," of whom their father had told them so many stories. For many years they lived together after this, and many a time would they delight the family by relating stories "about ould times" when they lived together in the lonely cottage on Seefin.

As for poor Bran he did not long survive separation from his native mountains; he died, and was buried by the children on the side of a glen, with due funeral honours, and followed to his grave by his old master, who dropped many a tear over him, a tribute to his worth and faithfulness.

Garret's grief for Mary softened down at last to pious resignation, but he still cherished her in his memory, and he looked forward with hope to the time when he should go to join her and "his little crathurs." Before he died he made a request which was not refused—"To be carried back again to the ould place, and berrid on the hill of Ardpatrick, undher the ould whitehorn, by the side of Mary."