Novel Duet

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXI (7) | Start of Chapter

I walked two miles, and passed one cabin by the road-side, and a few scattered ones at a distance upon the sloping hill. The enchantment increased, and the breezes of heaven that morning wafted a new and exhilarating fragrance. I sat down to enjoy it upon a moss-hillock, and commenced singing, for the Kerry mountains are the best conductors of sound of any I have ever met; they in some places not only give echoes, but thrills as the ever-busy wind penetrates the circles and caves. I had sung but a passage, when, from over a wide stretched valley, a mountain boy, with a herd of cattle, struck up a lively piper's song, so clear and shrill that I gladly exchanged my psalmody for morning notes like these. It was to me a hymn of praise; it said that God had compensated in part for all the deficiencies of food, raiment, society, &c., by the almost holy inspiration of the mountain air, which, in spite of all painful drawbacks, will impart a spontaneous cheerfulness, keeping pure that life-blood which spreads vigor and health unsought by medicine. I listened till a pause ensued, and again commenced; instantly he responded, and though the distance was a mile at least, yet alternately we kept up the song till his was lost in the distance. Seeing a sparkling rivulet leaping down the mountain before me, I ascended to its side, stopped, uncovered my head and hands, laved and revelled in almost unearthly delights. The wide circular valley at my feet, the Kerry mountains, with their blossoming heath and playful streams, were made on purpose for me, surely, that morning, for they were just to my liking; and the sun and heavens, too, shed a light which said, "Look! for you never again will see this same morning on this same Kerry mountain."

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.