Novel Interior of a Cabin

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XI

Novel Interior of a CabinNo Lodging PlaceDreary walk through mud and rain to RoscreaA profitable SixpenceStart joyfully, with fine weather, and threepence in my purseA Lift from a "Friend"Money-letter at UrlingfordReflectionsHonesty and kindness of the poor Irish PeasantryParting from cordial friendsGarrulous fellow-travellerPerilous positionReturn to Dublin, and kind receptionPuzzling Voyage of Discovery

The morning was cloudy, and rain began soon to fall. I was five miles from Roscrea, and it being but about ten in the morning, thought best to go into a shelter till the rain might subside. A little cabin, with the tempting flower-pot standing in the window, saying, "Here are order and content within," induced me to call. It was built of rough stone, and was not whitewashed; but when I entered, the scene was changed. Such a room in cabin or cottage never had met my eyes. The room was small, and in the midst of it stood a centre-table of the highest polish. On it were gilt-edged books, shells, flower-baskets, specimens of Ireland's diamonds and gems; and under it were all the iron and tin utensils used for cooking, glistening like so many mirrors. There was no floor but the ground, but a nice straw mat was at the door, a hearth-rug of no mean quality, a number of covered stools for the feet, a nice looking-glass and table, and a bed of the best appearance, with fringed curtains surrounding it. Two well-dressed ladies were sitting in the room, with a beautiful little lap-dog on a soft mat at their feet. As I first entered, I thought of a room of fairies, and hesitated, to see whether the beautiful images made on my mind by Mary's neat cabin had not swelled to this fine picture. "Walk in," said one of the ladies, "and take a seat from the rain."

They were sisters; one was married to a police officer, and told me she had not, in her life, been six miles from that cabin where she was sitting. How and where she acquired this taste, and where she had been taught such a finish of house-keeping, so distinct from all her neighbors, is difficult to understand. They sat till five o'clock without eating, though they gave me a biscuit, and they sat without working. The rain continued, but the young ladies told me that they had an engagement that evening, to attend a christening, and must be out.

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.