MCGILLVERY AND MCGILLICUDDY

Book II

Knowledge and Wisdom

  

 

“Did you set your eyes upon it and it flew away as does the eagle?”


 

 

Dedicated to my grandfather’s loving heart and my grandmother’s practical soul, a marital combination richly rewarded throughout their life


 

 

Foreword

Kings and Queens have longed for it.  Leaders have demanded it.  Without it, the world would not exist upon its life-giving track around our precious sun.  It is man’s duty to acquire it.  It is man’s destiny to exercise it.  Without it, man’s face is as dull as the soil from which he comes and to which he must return.  With it, man’s eyes light with strange fire; life becomes filled with the long ago named dynamic, unstoppable, enabling force empowering dominion in places beyond the limiting sphere.  More difficult to find than rivers of oil, cunningly concealed from the most constant searcher, a task given every man, an occupation without end, a searching through valueless things to find that of value, a discarding of dross, a cry of delight, a secreting away, a human raises his own life on that glorious day.


 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1       A Different Time and Place……………………………4

Chapter 2       A Fork in the Road…………………………………….34    

Chapter 3       The Earth Opens……………………………………….59

Chapter 4        A Stone in the Path…………………………………….72

Chapter 5        Clean Faces, Fresh Air…………………………………87

Chapter 6        A Lord’s Traditions…………………………………...101

Chapter 7        Mixing Two Worlds…………………………………...112

Chapter 8        Humility……………………………………………….143

Chapter 9        The Struggle……………………………………………148

Chapter 10       A Tiny Plan………..…………………………………..158

Chapter 11       Small Gifts..…………………………………………...166

Chapter 12       A Twist in Fortunes..………………………………….173

Chapter 13       The Bottom and Top of Things………………………..181

Chapter 14       Open Paths…………………………………………….199

 

 

Chapter 1

A Different Time and Place

McGillvery started awake, sweating and fearful, as humans sometimes do when deeply slumbering and something in the waking world unexpectedly rouses them to consciousness.  He lay quite still beneath a full moon.  A queer uneasiness crept over him as if he were being watched by eyes just beyond the edge of campfire’s dying glow.  He surreptitiously prodded McGillicuddy, urging him in a low whisper to listen loud.

McGillicuddy did as he was admonished and sleepily murmured, “It’s just the squeak of the wagon’s sign against the wind, Gilly.”

McGillvery lay silent, endeavoring to arrange his thoughts.  Then he returned softly, “There should be no wagon’s sign squeaking, Cuddy.  We left the wagon at Deborah and Tam’s.”

Cuddy peered drowsily over the edge of his covers, wet a finger, and held it to check the direction of the wind.  A bit later, he noted quietly, “I was fairly wrong, for the wind is not waving its hand in salute from East to West to North to South and yet I’m quite sure I hear the wagon’s sign squeaking.”

McGillvery lay silent, eyes searching the evening sky’s offering of stars and scattered clouds, heart thumping, feeling out of place and out of time.  “Cuddy, didn’t we just accomplish a grand adventure involving the Father and ourselves?” he asked timorously.

Now fully awake and quite aware, McGillicuddy affirmed lowly, “Aye, that we did.”

A bit relieved, but not by much, McGillvery whispered, “But I’m not remembering making a camp or going to sleep beside a fire.”

“Nor me, either,” returned McGillicuddy’s faintish whisper. 

“The last thing we heard was Deborah and Tamara calling us from the top of the great white stairs, wasn’t it?”

“Aye, that’s what I’m remembering,” agreed Cuddy.

Gilly, not daring to raise his head further from his sleep bag, suggested a bit anxiously, “Perhaps we were so tired after our grand journey that we don’t properly remember returning to Deborah and Tam’s.”

He paused a moment further and then proposed hopefully, “Perhaps in great exhaustion we fell asleep before they reached us and they, the strong lasses that they are, carried us home and put us to bed right proper near our tinker’s wagon.” 

“’Tis quite possible,” agreed Cuddy.  “Or, it may be their lovely voices making us run so quickly to meet them caused us to faint away in the high misty regions of the Father’s land.  Even men grander than we, ’ave been known to faint away at the smallest instances.”

“Aye,” agreed Gilly, “we wouldn’t be remembering how we were bedded while fainted—a man’s got no mind at all in that condition.”

Both brothers lay quietly inside their bedrolls for some little time thinking this over before Gilly whispered, “Do you feel as if someone’s watching us?”

“Aye, a queer, creepy feeling as if I was being hunted,” agreed Cuddy.  “You turn to the east and I’ll turn to the west and see if we can ascertain the danger,” he directed in his best military manner while taking firm hold on the shillelagh he always placed inside his sleep roll as protection against predators.

The boys turned from each other and lay silently for some time, back-to-back, peering into the darkness beyond, waiting for the danger to either appear in full force or disappear entirely.  The wagon’s sign suddenly stopped squeaking as it properly should in the silent, dead air laying all about them.

Finally, McGillvery ventured, “I haven’t heard a sound these many minutes.”

“Nor I,” agreed McGillicuddy.

“Then, best we be up and reassuring ourselves further.”

“Nay,” urged McGillicuddy quietly with military experience backing his recommendation.  “When even the night birds quit singing, there is danger nearby.”

Suddenly from the road the boys heard the sound of a lone galloping horse running at near break speed past their camp.

“Thief!” shouted McGillvery, leaping from his sack.  “We were being robbed while we lay silent!” he cried while pulling on his boots.  “Someone’s stolen one of the horses, sure, and they’ve made away with it that quick!” he gasped while turning to run full speed toward the road to recapture the purloined property.

McGillicuddy, a wee bit slower, grasped his hardwood club firmly and raced to the end of the lane to see his brother’s nightshirt flapping above vigorously pumping legs—legs rapidly disappearing around the western bend of the road.  Cuddy quickly followed, putting his running into top gear, fully intent on aiding his brother in whatever danger he may meet.  The brothers ran until they were quite out of breath, stopping some distance from their camp.

McGillvery wiped the perspiration from his brow while ruefully gasping, “It’s a poor thing the Lord did, when He gave man only two legs instead of four.  It quite handicapped us when competing with the other living creatures.”

McGillicuddy nodded in agreement while breathing heavily.

“I’m wondering if the thief preferred taking our dear Belle over our sweet Shade,” puffed Gilly between heaving breaths.

“Perhaps ye can tell by looking at the marks of the hooves on the road,” wheezed McGillicuddy.  “Belle always threw the left hind foot a bit when running.”

McGillvery immediately knelt in the moonlight and endeavored to check the tracks left by the galloping animal.  “I’m not sure,” he said finally, straightening to look around.  “It seems the animal has much smaller hooves than either Belle or Shade and runs quite straightly.”

“Aiiii, and weren’t we forgetting the gray mare,” reminded McGillicuddy, more steady of breath.  “The thief took the gray mare, surely.”

“She would have been the better choice for riding,” admitted Gilly.  “We’ve been gone for such a time, that by now, her hind foot should have well-cured especially with Deborah doctoring and watching for it.”  He hunched his shoulders a bit and said, “What are ye suggesting we do now?  It’s plain the horse has galloped with its rider down an infinite stretch of this road.”

“We’d best go back and see if the rest of our property is in place, Brother,” replied Cuddy.  “The horse cannot be run all the night.  After checking our camp, we can follow the horse’s tracks until we find the low thief.” 

He turned round in the road, looked over fully lit fields, and paused.  “Gilly,” he asked in a most puzzled fashion, “did we run that far from Deborah’s so we’re not recognizing the land’s lay round this road?”

McGillvery followed his brother’s eyes across the fields to either side of the dirt lane and said, “I’m not remembering the countryside being so flat round her cottage.”

McGillicuddy replied quietly, “Then, we’d best retrace our steps and see exactly where we are this evening.”

“Aye,” returned McGillvery while beginning an anxious walk toward their campsite.  The boys rounded the last bend in the road and stopped still. 

It was the more talkative Gilly who interrupted the silence.  “Do ye remember two lads going into the Sinks to win their fortune; a Cat of tremendous size pronouncing a curse; a covetous Madam of a very large castle speaking dearly of the value of investments; a terrible, dark dungeon; a near hanging; a horrible war; and then sweet deliverance from Misery’s Sorrow by a most redeeming and loving Father, Brother?” His voice spoke this mouthful of words in a most quavering and halting manner.

McGillicuddy shook his head affirmatively.  “It’s exactly the way I’m remembering,” he agreed.

Wishing mightily to embark on an instant retreat, McGillvery, while looking at the view before them asked in tremulous voice, “Are ye supposin’ it’s one of those mirages we’ve heard tell about?”

“I don’t know,” replied McGillicuddy fearfully.  “I’ve never heard tell of a mirage in the moonlight.  Ghosts, goblins, leprechauns, fairies, and angels I’ve heard tell in many stories connected with the moonlight; but, never a mirage.”

McGillvery whispered faintly, “We audaciously dared look on the Father, Cuddy.  The Book says no one may look on that face and live.  Do ye think we died?  Perhaps we’ve become the unearthly spirits who’re able to travel back and forth in time and place with no limitations on their beings.”

Cuddy put his hands to his face and felt the bushy red whiskers against his palms. “It seems I’m alive,” he asserted in a most unconvincing manner while adding, “It would have been a cruel thing to invite us to gaze upon such a becomingly kind face as the Father’s and then kill us straight away for the looking on it.”

“Aye,” agreed Gilly, fervently hopeful.  “We were invited to look upon it by the very beguiling goodness of it, just as ye’re saying.  I’m not seein’ how such a charming face could be the cause of such an unfortunate circumstance as I was speakin’ of.”  He continued slowly, “Perhaps we transgressed somehow when we left His side running so eagerly for the real world.  Perhaps it offended Him mightily and He caught us between Deborah’s land and His land for our inadvertent slip of mis-action.  We didn’t properly thank Him for our lessons and rescuing us from great adversity.  It was very rude of us, Cuddy, and I’m knowing an earthly King would not easily forgive a breach of manners such as that.”

McGillicuddy thought upon this for some time and said slowly, “No, we’re not thinkin’ rightly for the fear that’s clouding our minds.  I’m remembering Him speaking a blessing for us when we left and I’m remembering much rich singing, singing that was glad and joyful, not thunderously accusing two frail lads such as we be of great wrong-doing.”

“Then, how are ye explaining the sight before us?” wailed Gilly.

“I’m not knowing,” replied an equally distraught Cuddy.

“Let’s be turning around and pass away from here,” urged Gilly.

“Nay, wait,” replied Cuddy holding his brother’s arm.  “’Tis best to think before exploding into action.” 

McGillvery sincerely felt reflexive action to be the best policy, but chose to submit to his brother’s opinion. “That’s true in many cases.  So what are ye preposing we do?”  

“We’re not given to cowardly acts.  I suggest we walk forward and inspect this situation carefully.  Do ye agree?”

McGillvery did not answer.  The mere mention of forward movement had caused the hair on his head to raise as does the hair on a sheep dog when facing its fiercest foe.

“Well, Brother,” spoke Cuddy sharply.  “Are ye with me or not?”

Finally, Gilly, in a voice half-choked with fear, replied, “Aye. We prayed for a change in our circumstances together.  We’d best advance as one,” and promptly began shuddering as does one whose nerves are overcome with extreme emotion.

As they hesitantly advanced toward their campsite, Cuddy quickly observed their sleeping place, carefully noting their sleeping rolls and the fire still glowing just a bit against the night air.  Just beyond the tinker’s wagon, with the moonlight playing upon its walls stood an unkempt, windowless stone cottage much in need of new thatching and  repair. 

“It’s the same cottage where we first asked for our prospering, isn’t it?” whispered Cuddy, not really asking for the knowing he already had inside him.

McGillvery, still shuddering as if deeply cold, bent down and with trembling hands retrieved a large, fractured stone from the ground.  “Here’s the stone I threw against the cottage’s wall in the upset I was feeling over our poverty,” he agreed.

Both boys stood silently surveying the scene before them.  Hearing a nicker from the nearby pasture, they immediately turned their heads to see Belle, Shade, and the gray mare just beyond the edge of the stream, contently grazing the shorter patches of grass. 

McGillicuddy rubbed both eyes with weather-worn fists as if endeavoring to clear them for better vision.  “An’ what was the galloping horse we heard when our own animals are most certainly quite peacefully grazing their chosen pasture?”

“Perhaps it wasn’t the horses the thief was about taking,” suggested McGillvery hesitantly.

“But what else are we havin’ of that much value ’cepting some pins and fabric?” asked a bewildered McGillicuddy.

McGillvery tossed an unnatural-eyed look in McGillicuddy’s direction.  “We left from the Father with two full bags of gold, did we not?”

Spilling carefulness to the ground, both boys leapt to their bedrolls turning them inside out.

“There’s nothing,” moaned Gilly.

“Perhaps the wagon,” urged Cuddy.  Gilly quickly lit the lantern and both boys began a thorough investigation of their wagon. 

After a diligent hour’s search into every possible hiding place, McGillvery turned stricken eyes toward McGillicuddy.  “They’ve been stolen!  An’ how could that ’ave happened?  They were given as a gift from the Owner himself.  How could they be up for the grabs of a thief?  Men belonging to the Father never miss a thing in their pastures or their homes.  It’s a promise sure.  What a cruel joke this is after all our hard work and our faith put to the test in every circumstance.”

“Perhaps not stolen,” averred Cuddy.

“It’s the only explanation,” protested Gilly.

“I’m remembering hearing the sound of the horse’s hooves as they thundered past our campsite.  It was one horse and ’e was not heavily loaded.  The hooves were that lightly hitting the ground and you yourself said the tracks on the road were not the strong, big marks of our Belle and Shade—but that of a lighter horse.  Our two full bags of gold were all we could carry and us being the stoutest of men.  The trail on the road was that of a horse moving freely and lightly, not heavily loaded.”

“Then if not stolen, where could they be?  They’re not in any of our belongings, neither placed openly nor secreted in our best hidden spots.”

McGillicuddy assumed the look of death bleached, turned slowly, and looked toward the stone cottage.  “Perhaps,” he said lowly, “they’re inside the simple cottage yonder.”

McGillvery leapt from the wagon’s seat toward the cottage with McGillicuddy chasing closely behind.  He nearly made the small dwelling’s door before Cuddy caught him and held him back.

“No,” he panted.  “Don’t enter.”

McGillvery tore his arm away and asked angrily, “Why? Our gold may be secured there.”

“No,” commanded McGillicuddy severely.  “We thought our journey began when we left our tinker’s cart at Deborah and Tamara’s; but we’ve awakened at the same place where we first petitioned a boon from the Father.  There’s something odd about this place, Gilly.  It’s a place like a ladder to the Father’s sweet heaven or,” and he paused almost choking on the words, “a descent to the Devil’s hell’s depths.” 

McGillvery looked fearfully at the darkened cottage door, moved back several steps from its entrance, and asked with deep dread, “What kind of witchery is this?”

“I don’t know,” replied McGillicuddy, fearfully searching the night sky’s moonlit expanse for the flittering shadow of any type of spirit responsible for such an odd prank against humankind.  Then he asked most carefully, “What time of night it is now, would ye be saying, Gilly?”

McGillvery cast eyes toward the moon’s positioning in the sky, involuntarily trembled, and offered, “Perhaps two hours or more after midnight.”

“And, a summer’s eve not unlike the one we first prayed through for the Father to especially notice us, his two worthy men.”

“What are ye getting at, Cuddy?”

“I’m wondering if any of the things we’re remembering in common, really happened at all.”

“How dare ye blaspheme the truth of our experience, Cuddy!” objected Gilly vehemently.  “We’re men who’ve lived a most remarkable set of incidents, unparalleled among man whether he be saint or scandalous criminal.  We’ve successfully passed through the special land that most creatures hope and wish to explore all their lives.  How can a man of sensible mind such as yerself be tossin’ out a whole lifetime of experience on the whim of a single thought?”

“I’m never wishin’ to blaspheme, but you yerself are knowin’ something quite peculiar ’as happened to us and we’re desperately needin’ to know the certain of it and,” replied Cuddy queerly while turning to walk toward the tinker’s wagon, “I’m knowin’ a way we can tell exactly.”

“What are you doing?” blustered McGillvery, quickly running to walk beside Cuddy, unwilling to be left alone in the shadows nearest the cottage.

“I’m going to check the potato,” he said.

“The potato?”

“Aye,” he explained.  “Forgive me, Brother.  But when our stores of supply were running to such lowness, I removed one large potato from the rest and hid it under the wagon’s seat in defense of a day when we could no longer persist without some bit of food.  If we have indeed been gone and lived a whole lifetime of experiences, that potato should have long rotted away into a mere powder.” 

McGillicuddy raised the lid on the wagon’s seat and with his right hand began searching for one, large potato.  He suddenly leapt back as if bitten by one of St. Patrick’s vanquished snakes and stood steadily staring at the cart’s seat.

“What is it?” asked McGillvery fearfully.

Blanching white even in shadow, McGillicuddy approached the wagon’s seat again, reached into its compartment, and brought forth a particularly lovely, white potato of goodly size.

“What does it mean?” cried McGillvery awfully.

McGillicuddy cradled the potato in both hands, holding it as one holds a rare gem.  “It means,” he said slowly looking Gilly directly in the eyes, “that there must be such a thing as two men sharing a most uncommonly vivid dream.”

“What do you mean, Cuddy?” whispered a completely shocked McGillvery.

“I mean,” replied Cuddy forcefully, “that it’s just as I said, we never left this campsite and all that happened to us was nothing more than a dream of men.”

“No, Cuddy,” whispered Gilly lowly.  “That’s not true.  We’ve been gone for over a year.  We walked into the Lord’s treasury rooms and we’re the wealthy men, wealthier than King Solomon himself.”  His voice, nearing the panicky soprano range, denied that which was before his eyes.  “That was no dream.  What is happening right now is the dream.  Wake up,” he commanded himself and began slapping his cheeks right soundly on either side to the point of blood-red ruddiness.  “Wake up!  It’s time to wake to prosperity and the good life promised by the Father.”

Cuddy, greatly alarmed, tried to grab hold of Gilly’s wildly moving hands, finally insisting in a most authoritative voice, “Stop, Gilly!  Stop, now!”

Gilly stopped the furious self-punishment and dazedly looked at his brother.

“This potato proves the fact of it,” said Cuddy while brandishing the perfectly lovely edible under his brother’s nose.  “There never was a Land of the Sinks, never Ever-Filling Bags of Gold, never a Cat of tremendous size, nor wily priests, nor MacKenay on the Shore, nor Lords nor Barons nor African Kings nor….”

Unable to accept the fact they had never left their land of deficiency and despite many great and fearful circumstances—all manfully mastered—they were still the hungry, poverty stricken lads, Gilly backed from the potato in great horror while denying the reality of its presence.  “No, that’s not true!  We have been kissed with the Lord’s special blessing.”  He then advanced and gripped Cuddy’s shoulders in a near death grip while saying, “Don’t be believing such a lie as this.  It’s a trick!  A trick!  And who is best to play these kinds of tricks?  The Cat!  That’s who!  It’s the Cat, I tell you.  It’s been the source of our trouble all along and if I could see it now, I’d take it on for what it is and make it so fearful it’d never bother our prospering again!”

McGillicuddy twisted out of McGillvery’s grasp only to turn and grip his brother in sternly strong hands, “Stop!  You’re talking on the border of a rightful mind, Brother.  We’ve had something happen to us outside our sphere of knowledge—that is true.  But now it is over and we have to rationalize it in a real world with the minds of the common sense men.  Stop the whirling of yer mind for a moment and think quietly while looking all around you slowly, Gilly.  This,” and Cuddy pointed to the horses grazing in the pasture, their bedrolls, the fire, their tinker’s wagon, and finally the potato, before saying, “is real—what you’re seeing now in front you, before your good Irish eyes.  What nonsense are you talking when you speak of fighting cats of tremendous size?  In real life there are no cats of tremendous size.  In real life there are no such things as whirlpools from which one can survive!  There is no such thing as a tinker bartering and winning anything over a Baron or a Lord!  None of it was real, Gilly.  None of it,” he repeated more quietly and continued softly, “It was merely a dream we had around midnight and here it is, the same night and we have simply awakened from a very unusual dream.”

 “I’ve never heard tell of two men sharing the same dream.  A dream is unique to a man,” objected Gilly.

“We think that,” replied Cuddy.  “But, what do we know of dreams?  ’Tis not a subject we’ve read about nor talked about with other folks either.  Perhaps outside Ireland there’re whole nations of men who share dreams in common.  We’re not the most traveled and learned of men, Cuddy.  Remember when we saw the red-haired lassie on the Southern shores and we hailed her as an old friend because she was the image of one of our customer’s daughters on the eastern shore?  We were startled then at our mistake, not knowing there were folks on this earth who look exactly the same.  We were wrong in thinking each person was uniquely their own for looks and personality.  It could be the same with dreams.  We’re not knowing the true nature of them and its quite possible they occur in more than one place at one time and it may be quite possible for two lads to share in common a dream most vivid.”

Gilly stood gaping at Cuddy.  Then he shook his head as if to clear it and said with careful lucidness, “By Gar, ye’re a faithless man—an unspiritual man!  It’s a man like you that would be telling Daniel he didn’t see an apparition on the other side of the Babylon River.  It’s a man like you that’d be telling Ezekiel he didn’t see a flaming chariot coming down from the sky.  It’s a man like you that would be refusing to tell the story of the Lord a’raisin’ Lazarus from his grave.  But, not me, Brother.  I’m a man with the eyes of faith and I know we were given the promise of the good Lord above and we’re a’walkin’ into our prosperity from now on.”

“I’m not denying the dream,” replied Cuddy calmly, “I’m denying the realness of it.  If ye’re determined to show me it was a real thing, something beyond a dream, then show me the Ever-filling bags that were sent to ensure the prosperity we were promised.”

Gilly’s eyes clouded, then he turned distressed eyes toward the cabin, while saying in a most troubled manner, “We are still in the hands of the Cat and this is the largest trick of all.”

“Stop it, Gilly!”

“No, I won’t stop.  What else do we have?  I can’t live with one potato anymore, Cuddy.  I can’t!  Not ever again!”

He turned toward the cottage with a desperate set of jaw.  “Even if this be the port to hell, I’ll enter and reclaim that which is ours and which we have earned through sleepless nights and earnest days of vigilance against every type of trick and devious device of man and spirit against our gold and our prospering.” 

McGillicuddy watched in horror as McGillvery leapt through the cottage portal into the shadowy darkness beyond.  For the first time in their lives, Cuddy did not follow his brother.  It was with greatly relieved breath that, some minutes later, he beheld the reappearance of a flustered and bewildered Gilly.

“What is it, Gilly?” he asked, quickly observing his brother’s astonished face.

“There’s nothing there,” he replied.  “’Tis only a place of dust and debris.”

McGillicuddy’s hands gripped the potato tightly.  It seemed a cruel joke had indeed been played on good and worthy men. 

His brother’s eyes roved wildly from one side of their camp to the other.  “We’ve been given the experiences of the leaders of the land, Cuddy; and now, without the gold we’ve sunk to the nothingness of our previous position.”

He sank to the dirt beside their fire as if illustrating their low position in life and began a distracted staring into its orange coals.  Cuddy worriedly observed Gilly’s posture from the darkness and waited until the dawning of the first warming rays of the early morning sun before attempting to rouse him from his depressed state.  It was then, at the beginning of day’s light, that he approached his brother and said gently, “Gilly, it’s not healthy to ignore the fact of all that is around us.  I’m building the fire a bit and laying the last potato to rest for a sustaining meal.  Then, Brother,” he spoke entreatingly, “it’s time to enter the real world and reassume our battles in the most manful manner we can.”

Gilly lowered his head and said pathetically.  “It’s a sad thing to beat a man to the wall, Brother.”

“I would beat you through the wall if it meant I could keep my best and only friend sane and fit in mind and soul,” Cuddy replied firmly.  Then, relenting just a little, he said more kindly, “It t’would not be the first real-like dream we’ve had in our short lives, Gilly.” 

McGillvery, deeply lost in the throes of distress, looked at McGillicuddy with a slightly puzzled air as if not really hearing the words.  Cuddy did not follow through on his thought for seeing the distraction of his brother.  He instead began setting about straightening their camp, taking their meal up from the fire, and keeping a watchful eye on his brother’s set of shoulders.  He was occupied in these three occupations when round the bend came a large flock of sheep being herded by a comely, youthful lass. 

Cuddy pointed and said, “Gilly, look at the sight in which we’ve always taken such gladness.” 

Gilly appeared not to notice. 

Cuddy came closer and clapped his hands smartly in front of his brother’s face.  “Gilly,” he said sharply, “look at the flock of dear sheep and being led by a trim shepherdess, too!”

Gilly raised his head and gazed confusedly at the activity surging past their camp.  Then, with the energy reminiscent of a lightning bolt, he stood and frantically began urging his brother, “Go, ask the young lass, which is the day of the week.  She’ll tell you the fact of the matter and then perhaps we’ll no longer be of divided opinion and can use our two heads for making a useful plan for retrieving our fortune from that conniving Cat who is quite certainly lurking somewhere nearby.”

Anxious to re-install his brother’s mind, Cuddy nodded while saying carefully, “Will you be accepting what she says, no matter how ill-favored her answer may be to your dreaming?”

“Of course, of course,” agreed Gilly urgently.  “Hurry or she’ll be past us and we’ll not be able to ask.”

Cuddy jogged to the side of the road, raised his hand in salute, and called, “Ho, lass.” 

The young girl raised her head and waved in a manner most friendly while walking closer to converse with Cuddy.  She began talking while approaching.  “Ye’re the young lads who near scared me brother to death last night.  He was comin’ home from Dublin Town and heard something awful coming from this ’ere cottage and road home like the Devil ’imself was after ’im.” 

Chuckling gaily, she continued nonstop, “Father told him it was most likely travelers campin’ by the old stone cottage, but he said there was a high pitched squeaking that was like the hinges opening on the gates of ’ell itself and letting pass the demons into the full moon for dancin’.  Mum crossed herself three times and prayed for the archangel’s protection all night.  Wouldn’t my brother be surprised now if he could see it had just been two tinkers campin’ just like Father said?  It’s the university education Earl Donogough is paying for that’s makin’ a fool of ’im, sure.  Why even I knew it had to be travelers passin’ through and,” she paused in her headlong rush of words before continuing, “ye’d best be knowin’ that this ’ere cottage belongs to Earl Donogough and ’e’s not one to be friendly with those wishin’ to stay on ’is property without permission.”

She grinned mischievously and said, “In fact, ’e’s not one to let folks stay on ’is property with permission so it’s not worth your while to go ask if ye’re wishin’ to stay longer than this mornin’ ’cause ’e’ll turn ye down just that quick.  If ye’re wise ye’ll be packin’ soon ’cause ’e ’as a man who patrols all his lands and ye’ll never know when he’ll come checking on this ’ere piece of property.” 

Turning a freckled nose impudently toward McGillicuddy while quickly looking him over in greater detail, she laughed merrily.  “Ye’ll not do for a dev’l or a demon.”

McGillicuddy blushed deeply at the girl’s familiarity.  She was a quick talker and forthright for a female.   He laid it to the loneliness of the shepherdess’ life while respectfully removing his cap, holding it in one hand, brushing down the reddish brown hair around his square head with the other, and preparing to ask his most important question. 

He said politely, “Tell yer brother we’re sorry for scarin’ him the evenin’ past.  It’s most likely the squeaking on our wagon’s sign that fooled him into believin’ such a thing.  Midnight’s the witchin’ hour and if ’e was tired and it being a full moon, too—well, a man can think all sorts of things when he’s traveling along the deserted lanes and byways at such an hour.”

The young lass shrugged her shoulders and said, “’E’s like that more so than the rest ’cause ’e’s studying the story writers at the university.  ’E sometimes forgets what’s real and what’s story.  When that ’appens, we’re all in for a treat of nonsense I can tell you that!”

“You must be quite courageous yourself to come herding your sheep so close to the place that gave birth to such a fearful tale as your brother told,” observed Cuddy.

Shrugging carelessly, she said confidently, “I’m not having the same difficulties as me brother.” 

McGillicuddy grinned and nodded.  “Quite a bit of excitement caused by one squeaking sign.” 

He looked at the blue sky and asked nonchalantly, “Could ye be tellin’ me the date for this day?”

She laughed gleefully and said, “You’re not religious men if ye’ve lost count of the day.”

“Nay, not so,” replied McGillicuddy.  “We be religious men, but we’re a little lost as to the day of the week.  If ye’ll place it for us, will help in observing the Sabbath properly.”

“It’ll be Friday, July the 27th, of course.”

McGillicuddy hid feelings of dismay and asked, “Are ye sure of that now, Miss?”

She looked indignantly at him and replied, “Sure?  As sure as I know the names of each of my father’s sheep and as surely as the early apples are ripe for picking and bakin’!”

McGillicuddy scratched his head and asked sheepishly, “Forgive me for askin’, but what year would it be now?”

The girl looked at him oddly and began backing away while crossing herself three times across her breast and shoulders.  Before McGillicuddy could call after her again, she had called her dogs and was herding the sheep long past their campsite.

“I wasn’t meaning to scare ye, Miss,” he said to himself and plunged both hands deeply into his pockets while slightly hunching his shoulders as if to think a little clearer.  “Father in Heaven,” he said quietly, “You need to be showing a poor lad the way for I’m a little short of knowin’ what Ye’re meaning by all this.”  His right hand curled and entwined around a strand of metal lying in the bottom of his right pocket and he began slowly walking back to the campsite. 

Gilly stood at the side of their fire searching for the shepherdess’ answer upon his brother’s face.

“Well, Brother,” Cuddy answered slowly, “the good news is that the horse galloping away last night was the young lassie’s brother half scared out of his wits from the squeaking of our sign at midnight.  ’E’s no thief—just a farmer’s son coming late night home from university to be visiting his family.”

McGillvery waited.

“The bad news is that the day is July the 27th, the day after we first camped at this stone cottage.”

McGillvery’s shoulders slumped and his face fell into a deeply despondent sadness.  Then the spirit of hope possessed him and he began to ask, but Cuddy, reading his face, quickly cut him short.

“Yes, I asked the year, but the wee lassie was a bit afraid of someone who was asking the year on top o’ the day.”  He looked hopelessly around.  “It’s a bitter thing to believe one has finally received their fortune only to be thrown into the depths of misery again.  But, we’re not the lads to be giving in to despair.  I’m for packing our camp and moving on as we should.  One never knows what blessing may wait just around the corner.  The dream may have been a portent, Gilly.  After all, we dreamed it in common.  It’s kind of like the King of Babylon dreaming and Daniel seeing the same dream and interpreting it for King Nebuchadnezzar, isn’t it?”

“We’ve no interpreter for our dream,” replied Gilly gloomily.

Cuddy looked hurriedly at his brother, immediately feeling relieved.  It was the most sensible thing he had said since awakening early this morning.  “Well, now, we’ve an interpreter, haven’t we?  Since when have we not been able to read the Book and not been able to ascertain the direction we should be takin’?”

Gilly nodded half apologetically.  “I’m sorry for my words.  But, it’s such a grievous thing to think our direction is not changing that much.  I’d hoped for a great deal more than we actually received.  Hope is a good thing, but it can be a tough thing to eat.  We were looking for the hard coin that spends well.”

He looked resolutely in front of him.  “Yet, it is all we’ve got and we must make the best of what we’ve got.  Ye’re right of course.  I’ll hitch the horses, if you fetch our potato from the kettle.  I’ll read from the Book while we eat our meal and perhaps we’ll find a bit of relief from this present disappointment.”

A bit later found the boys hunched over the Book in such deep concentration that they did not hear the horse trotting in an easterly direction past their camp.  They did not hear the hail, nor did they hear the footsteps approaching.  It was the light touch on McGillicuddy’s arm that brought them to attention, startling them from their stone seats onto the dirt behind.

“Laddie,” spluttered McGillicuddy. “You should be warning a man when ye’re creeping into his camp.  Ye’re never knowin’ when a man’s armed and he might pull down on you without knowing ye’re just wanting to visit a bit.”

“I hailed,” the friendly face said.  “You’ve no ears for listening for the interest you have in your great book. I’m most heartily sorry for scaring you.  But it’s an even trade.  The sign on your wagon nearly frightened all the learning from my mind early this morning.” 

The young lad grinned and pointed to the large book the brothers were reading, “University students?  I’m a student also—University of Dublin.”

 “Ye’re the wee lassie’s brother,” noted McGillicuddy.

“The fool who rode past a little after midnight at break neck speed on a mare too old for such hi-jinks—and yes, the young lassie’s brother.  I brought you,” the young man said while reaching into his pocket, “a bit of sheep’s tallow for your sign to make it swing easy and proper so as to allow late night travelers easy passage past your camp.”

Cuddy accepted the small package with a proper thank you and the young man squatted at the side of their fire to visit with them a bit.  “Where are you going to school?” he asked conversationally.

“Nay, we’re not attending the university,” returned Gilly.  “We be tinkers three generations down.”

“I’ve never seen tinkers poring over the books as you two are doing,” noted the lad.

It seemed a grand compliment and both McGillvery and McGillicuddy beamed.

“Are ye returning now to school?” asked McGillvery of the young fellow.

“Not till next week.  I’m on short break between classes.”

“This is the time of the year your father would be needin’ a fine, robust, young man like you in the fields or helping with the sheep,” admonished Gilly.

The young lad shrugged.  “Yes, and sometimes I’m wishing I could stay and do more.  But all the Barons and the Lords send their sons to university and my father’s determined I shall do the same as their sons.  He made a bargain with Earl Donogough when I was but a lad, you see, that part of his wages for working the Lord’s lands was a university education for myself when I was of age.  Therefore, at my father’s wishes, I spend my falls, winters, springs, and most of the summers in Dublin studying as do the sons of the nobility.” 

He looked quizzically at the two boys and remarked nonchalantly, “There’s not many who read well in these parts of Ireland.  Where did you obtain such a thorough education?”

Gilly shrugged and said, “Our mum saw to our reading and writing.”

The young man looked astounded.  “There’s not a female in these parts who can read or write—not even my sister.  The women do not have the heads for it.”

McGillicuddy cocked his head to one side and replied, “We’ve never thought a great deal about it, laddie, either way.  It seems Mum could always read and we took it as a natural thing—rather than an unnatural thing.  She did have a smaller head than our own, though.  To that I’ll be owning the truth.”

McGillvery frowned and said, “Mum also had the smaller feet, Brother, but it made her not unable to out-walk any of the three of the men in her family.”

McGillicuddy laughed.  “She was smaller all around come to think of it and it never seemed to affect her ability to work circles around us, too.”

“Well, the reading in a female is rather unnatural actually,” replied the young man matter-of-factly.  “Natural at the university and among the noblemen’s sons, but unnatural among ones outside those circles whether they be male or female.” 

The young man looked over their camp and sighed, “I would like very much to do as you are doing…the free open road, being able to do as you wish every day, meeting new people, seeing new villages…it must be the life of all lives.”

“It’s what our father always told us,” admitted Gilly.

“In fact,” the young man said thoughtfully, almost as if to himself, “your business costs are very few.  Your business is your home and it costs nothing to park your home wherever you may need for the night.  A fellow could read the books all day long while the horses followed the road and in the evenings he could write down his thoughts and mark his days quite well it seems to me.” 

He looked at the boys with some enthusiasm.  “Besides these advantages, a fellow could make a great deal of money in this business, couldn’t he?  The work is certainly not bothersome.  It would be a fine way to grow old.”

McGillvery’s stomach growled ominously while he thought the young man’s sheep tallow might be awfully wasted on their sign’s squeaking. 

McGillicuddy, however, nodded at the young fellow’s charm and said carefully, “However attractive the life may be, it seems that times have moved forward and the tinker’s life is to be left behind.”

The wee lassie’s brother cocked his head to one side reflecting for a moment and said, “I see perhaps this could be so.  I’ve often been inside the merchandising shops in Dublin—shelves and shelves of everything anyone would want to buy.  Even my mother, living this far from city, travels to Dublin three times a year for her marketing.  The merchants buy in such large quantities—why, I’ve seen some of the larger proprietors buy whole shiploads of goods at a time and store them in warehouses to be sold at later dates—with the end prices most fair, fairer than any in Ireland.” 

He looked at their tinker’s wagon.  “You really don’t have much room for a wide variety of merchandise, do you?”

McGillvery replied somewhat defensively, “When we are at our peak, you might be surprised at what we fit into our wagon.”

“Would you show me?” asked the young man eagerly.

“Well, we’re not at our peak, now, laddie,” quickly remonstrated McGillvery in embarrassment at their poverty of merchandise.  “We’ve sold nearly everything and are needin’ to restock the entire wagon.”

“Ahhh, then you’re on your way to Dublin now, I’ll wager.”

Gilly looked startled and said, “We hadn’t really made plans which way to be traveling.”

“Go to Dublin,” the young lad encouraged.  “If you’re there next week, you can hear me lecture in the Parliamentary Halls on Monday.  Because you love the books, I’ll show you the university library after my lecture—they are keeping books there larger than the one you’re holding and as ancient as Ireland herself.”

“There’s no book larger than this one, lad,” replied Cuddy confidently.  “An’ there’s not one as ancient either.  Not that I’m disputing your claim, but this Book is widely recognized as both wise and wonderful beyond all others.”

“Really?”  said the lad with a great show of interest.  “Show me.  A book like that is exactly what they like to have in the great libraries.”

Cuddy gently held their mother’s Book to the lad for his inspection.

“Oh,” he laughed.  “You are playing the joke on me!” and promptly handed the Book back to the boys.  “It’s a common book.  Come to the university and I’ll show you books more wise and wonderful than this one.” 

His eyes wandered back to their tinker’s cart.  “But, nevertheless, it is a good life you’re leading.” 

He stood, caught his horse’s reins, and said, “I’m off to the neighboring village, now.  The Earl wishes to hire some of the men there for harvesting his summer apples.” 

He waved and called over his shoulder as he was leaving, “Oh, and by the way, the Earl was asking about the wagon parked by the old stone cottage.  He’s sending a man around inquiring today.  He’s a good man, but not hospitable about folks trespassing.  Sometimes he sends the sheriff instead of his man.  You’ll need to think about moving down the road quite soon this morning.  And, don’t forget, if you make it to the university on Monday, my invitation stands.  Ask for Sean Connor.  That’s me.”

McGillicuddy gently held his mother’s Book in his hands while watching the back of the young man as he rode down the lane.  He said wonderingly, “The young lad thought nothing of our Book, Gilly.  What book could possibly be greater than a book that would give men advice for living their lives well?”

“Perhaps he’s not knowing how to use the Book to his advantage,” replied Gilly.

“Perhaps,” agreed Cuddy absently.  “But, he was calling it a common book.”

“Well, that’s a trifling thing.  The Father works best with common things.  He made Adam from dirt and that’s a pretty common thing.  And the Commandments were not engraved on gold.  They were engraved on clay, a most common substance.  Sometimes it’s in the most common of places that one finds the most valuable of treasures.  We’re just fortunate for having the kind of eyes that aren’t missing the valuable things because they’ve been rated common by others.   We’re pretty common lads, yet the Father hasn’t rated us as unworthy to be working with.  Think what the young lad is missing for not seeing the common thing.”

Cuddy nodded his head in agreement and then said, “We’d best be discerning that this is the second time we’ve been warned of staying on the Lord’s lands for long.  I finished my potato.  Are ye ready for traveling?”

“Aye, that I be,” returned Gilly scuffing out the fire and heading for the wagon. He climbed to the seat and turned to take the Book from his brother’s hands.

“Take this, too, would ye?” asked Cuddy.

Gilly reached to take the metal strand which his brother had just nonchalantly pulled from his pocket and held up to the side of the cart.  Instantly, Gilly’s breathing air passed from his lungs while his countenance assumed the look of Adam’s wan face before he got the breath of life from the Father.

McGillicuddy quickly pulled himself to the cart’s seat, anxiously noted his brother’s greatly changed complexion, and promptly began pounding him on the back.  “Breathe, Gilly.  Breathe.  It’s just a shock we’re having about others not valuing a book as fine as our mother’s Book, but it’s not a reason for dying now.  By Jove, breathe,” and he gave McGillvery a hard blow that might have knocked a fellow’s lungs right through his chest.

McGillvery gasped, choked, and tried to talk.  Unable to follow through with the precious words, he held out his hand from which the metal strand dangled. 

McGillicuddy asked, while looking into his brother’s bulging eyes rather than at the object he held in his hand, “What is it you’re trying to tell me?”

McGillvery shook his fist, full of the metal strand, directly in Cuddy’s face.  “Look,” he managed to strangle.  “Look in front of your very eyes.”

McGillicuddy reached for McGillvery’s hand.  “What is it?”

He took the strand from McGillvery, examined it, and said wonderingly, “Why, it’s Mum’s silver necklace.”

A strangled noise came from McGillvery’s throat, his eyes swelled with great prominence, and he struggled to say, “But it’s broken, Cuddy.  However, did you break it?”

Cuddy looked carefully at the strand.  Two of the delicate chain links had been forcefully pried apart.  He raised eyes to Gilly’s and said quietly, “You tell the story, Gilly.  You know it as well as I.”

“There was a wily priest,” said Gilly gasping for air, “who lived in the Land of the Gone Forever….”

“And he had great designs on the minds of two poor tinkers who belonged with all their souls and all their hearts to the Lord above.”

“And, this crafty man of the cloth removed the good Brother’s marker from the stones they had so carefully laid to find their way home….”

Cuddy broke in, “And while one Brother was quite beguiled by the old one’s words, the other Brother noticed a silver strand shining in the light….”

“And he forcefully tore it from the neck of the man of profound spiritual guidance,” finished Gilly.

Gilly took the necklace from his brother and held it tightly.  “I told you, Cuddy.  It ’twas no dream.  It really happened.  And our good Father has not left us in a world of forsaken desperation; we’ve been given one small token to remind us of the truthfulness of our grand adventure.”

His shoulders relaxed, his eyes returned to their usual brightness and natural intelligence.  “Now we just need to understand what it all means.  What would the Father be about doing—giving us our gold and His blessing, too, and then sending us off without our gold and the blessing just words spoken into the air?”

Cuddy scratched his head thoughtfully.  “’Tis one of the greatest riddles we’ve ever yet had, Gilly.”

“Do ye think we can solve it?” asked Gilly anxiously.  “I’ve never been good at the riddles.”

“If it’s not in our power, surely it’s in His.  If He can walk us into and out of lands and make it appear as if we’d lived a whole lifetime of experiences in the matter of minutes, then I’m supposin’ He can help us with this riddle.”

Gilly threw his head backwards and laughed aloud.  “It’s a grand joke, isn’t it?  Where are we, Brother?  Are we in the Land of the Gone Forever or are we in our own Ireland?”

“I don’t know,” said McGillicuddy queerly.  “And I’m supposing there’s no real way of knowing.  We may be in a magical kingdom of the Father’s Time.”

Gilly sobered a bit and said, “Then, what are we to do?”

“What can we do?” asked McGillicuddy.  “It seems our life is out of our hands.  I suppose all we can do is to proceed in a most worthy fashion and attempt to choose the higher path in all our dealings with others whether they be real or the Father’s own.”

McGillvery nodded solemnly and vowed, “That we shall do, two heads are better’n one.  I’ll help you stay by the higher path and you help me.  It seems our grand adventure’s not over yet.” 


Chapter 2

A Fork in the Road

“It would help to be having a script to follow,” grumbled Gilly as he shook the reins over Belle and Shade’s neck, heading them toward the end of the camp’s lane.  “I’m wantin’ to make the right turn in the road, but am not quite sure how to do that without a good angel sitting on my wagon’s seat and advising me the best way to follow.”

McGillicuddy nodded his head thoughtfully and said, “Let’s read the Book and perhaps we’ll find a lead to our way.”  He reached to his side and opened the Book.  It fell to the very verse that had helped launch them into their passage into oddish worlds beyond their ken.

“Why, Gilly,” Cuddy said wonderingly.  “This is the verse about the country whose stones are malachite, a place that has clods of gold—the verse I was not able to find again no matter how dearly I tried.”

Gilly pulled the reins short.  “Read,” he urged.

Cuddy quickly scanned the verses.  “Gilly,” he said excitedly, “Listen to what the next verse is saying:

But where is wisdom to be had from,

and what is the place for insight?

No man knows the road to it,

and it is not to be found in the land of the living.

The deep says, ‘it is not in me’

and the sea ‘I do not have it here.’

Solid gold is not to be given for it

nor silver to be weighed out as its price;

It is not to be balanced against nuggets from Ophir,

Against the most precious beryl, or lapis lazuli;

Gold and glass will not match it,

a thing of red gold be an exchange for it;

Pearls and alabaster are not to be mentioned,

And wisdom is more of a prize than coral;

The Nubian chrysolite will not match it,

Nor against pure nugget-gold is it to be balanced;’”

Cuddy stopped reading and said, “Seems we didn’t read far enough before starting our search for the gold.”

“Aye,” returned Gilly wonderingly.  “The words are certainly pointing to a possession of wisdom as of more value than any other item most prized by men.” 

Then he wrinkled his forehead and said, “But the good verse is not telling a good fellow where to find wisdom.  It is merely telling where it cannot be found.”

“This time I did not leave my hand from the place where I was reading,” replied Cuddy confidently.  “Perhaps the answer is to be found in the rest of the reading.”

“Then, read,” urged Gilly eagerly.

“‘And where does wisdom come from?

And what is the place for insight?

It lies out of sight of any living thing

And screened from the birds of the air.

Death and the land of the gone forever say

‘We have heard a hearsay of it.’

God understands the road to it,

He knows the place for it,

Because he looks to the ends of the earth,

Sees under all the sky,

Determining a weight for the wind,

And proportioning the water by measure

When he made a law of nature for the rain

And a course for the lightning of thunder,

Then he saw it and described it,

Made it sure and thoroughly searched it out

And he said to man

‘Here, fearing the Lord is wisdom

and shunning what is bad is insight.’”

Gilly was quiet for a great long time after which he said, “Well, then if wisdom is found by fearing the Lord and staying away from bad things, we must be right strong wise for we do fear our Lord and we’ve always stayed as far away from bad as a good man does from the devil himself.”

“Then, is the Father telling us we are the successful men, just as we are?”

Gilly’s stomach growled ominously and he lamented pitiably, “Perhaps we’re loved of our Father in Heaven for our predisposition to goodness, but I’m powerfully hungry this morning and quite stumped out of knowing what we’re to be doing about it short of stealing from a fellow human being.”

“If wisdom is more valuable than wealth, we should be seeking it,” suggested Cuddy tentatively.  “If the source of all wisdom is the Father and staying clear of bad action, we’ve stood on that ledge for a great long while.”

“Well,” hesitantly suggested Gilly, “perhaps there’s a series of steps needin’ to be taken for a worthy man to be finding all the faces of wisdom—something like a ladder we’re needin’ to climb just as we endeavored to climb the ladder to prosperity.”

“Perhaps,” agreed Cuddy cautiously.  “And, in fact, I’m now remembering a few words Mum taught us long, long ago.  She said, ‘Wisdom is on the side of modest men.’”

“Well, we’re not too awful proud.”

“She also had us learn a verse about wisdom by heart and I’m still knowing where it is to be found.  Here, listen:

‘Is not wisdom calling

and intelligence sending out her voice? 

On the brows of wayside eminences

At crossroads she takes her stand;

At the sides of gates, at the entrances of towns

At the approaches to gateways she holloos….’”

“But, we’re knowing that already, aren’t we?” interrupted Gilly a bit edgily.  “We’re knowing we’ve become a little wiser from every person we’ve met, from every place we’ve ever traveled we’ve learned and gained.”

“Aye, that’s the truth of it,” agreed Cuddy.  He bent his head to the Book and began reading again.

“‘To you men, I call,

and my voice goes to humankind:

Appreciate shrewdness, simpletons;

Fools, provide yourselves with brains.

Hear, for I will speak sound sense,

And what my lips are opened for shall be correct,

Because my throat breathes truth

And wrong is an abomination to my lips,

All that my mouth says is on the right side,

There is nothing tricky and crooked in it,

It is all obvious to a man of understanding and plain to those who find knowledge.

Take my instruction and not silver—

Knowledge is preferable to hard gold;

For wisdom is a better thing than coral

And all valuables are no equivalent for it.’” 

Cuddy bent his head to read silently and then began reading aloud again.

“‘I love those who love me,

and those who go in quest of me will find me.

Riches and honor I have on hand,

Goodly resources and a right-doer’s standing.’” 

Cuddy looked at Gilly and said excitedly, “That’s exactly what we’re looking for, isn’t it, Gilly—riches, honor, resources, and a good standing among our fellow countrymen and our Father?”

“Aye.”

“We found the gold, but it did not bring us that for which we wished, did it?”

“Nay, and it seems to have taken the wings of an eagle and flown away from our grasp.”

Cuddy again bent his head to the valuable words and observed, “There’s a kind of ladder presented here, Gilly.  Did ye notice it?  It talks about first pursuing knowledge, secondly obtaining understanding, and finally wisdom.”

“We’ve chased the knowledge of our Lord all our life, Cuddy—by reading His Book.”

“Aye,” agreed Cuddy quite perplexed. 

The boys sat on their wagon’s seat at the end of the lane pondering that which they had read.  Finally McGillvery turned to Cuddy and said, “I’m not readily seeing an application to our current circumstances in the reading.  That leaves us needing to use the best knowledge we have at hand to make our decision as to where we’re to go this day.  The facts are: we’ve no real merchandise to be selling.”

“An’ no money to be buying more,” reminded McGillicuddy.

“Then, if we go west, we’ve a definite promise of greater starvation unless we found our Ever-Filling bags along the roadside just waiting to be retrieved and,” McGillvery added, “that’s not likely with the Cat being such a covetously greedy creature.”

“Aye, an’ if we go east, we’ll come to Dublin Town.”

“That may be a good thing.”

“Aye.  Dublin Town may offer work to increase our funds to replenish our wagon,” suggested Cuddy.

“Well?” asked Gilly.

“To Dublin Town, we go,” said Cuddy simply.

“Aye,” agreed Gilly, giving a small flick of the reins to the back of the horses’ haunches.  “Hi-up Belle.  Hi-up Shade.  You’re the horses to see the fine town along the sea.”

As their tinker’s wagon headed east, McGillvery turned to take a last look in the direction of the stone cabin.  He said, “Ireland’s an enchanted land of many spirits great and small, Brother.” 

McGillicuddy grunted, waiting for Gilly to complete his thought.  “I’ve been thinking this whole affair has been more like we’d been meddling with the Leprechaun King and his treasure rather than the Lord’s treasure.”

“Ye’re thinking all these happenstances are more like the natural work of that rascally little devil?” asked Cuddy, quite surprised.

“P’rhaps so,” frowned Gilly and then his face suddenly cleared as readily as clouds after a small shower.  “Nay, we were taught at our mother’s knee that it is impossible for the Father to lie and having His blessing, if we think just a bit about it, is worth more than two bags of gold.  He’s not one to play tricks on His favored men as would a leprechaunish personality.”

“Aye, that’s true,” agreed McGillicuddy.  “Besides ye’re needin’ to remember we never learned about the fairies and the leprechauns from our mum.  We learned those stories from our playmates down the way.  And what would those children know?  Their parents were as pagan as could be; Mum told us so herself.  She said proper proportions would see one through all things.  The Book speaks of the Father and His ways abundantly, the Devil and His ways sparingly, and never even mentions the Leprechaun King.  If we pattern our conversation accordingly we’ll be men having confidence for successful speech.”

McGillvery clicked his tongue smartly against the roof of his mouth, urging Belle and Shade’s ambling walk into a more energetic stride while McGillicuddy continued to philosophize.

“And yet, good and bad can come from the Father.  Remember Job and the most horrid of things the Father allowed to happen to him.”

McGillvery instantly began making a series of saintly signs in the air while looking to the heavens, “Forgive what he said, Father.  Don’t be bringing on us Job’s circumstances.  We’re good men, but we’ve never had the plenty to lose as he did.  We can read all about him in your Book; we’ve not a need to experience his woes ourselves.”

McGillicuddy nodded his head vigorously while noting a small breeze which again stirred in among the trees they were passing alongside the road.  “And, it’s not deviltry that’s happened to us.  We’ve had a most interesting experience that is fit to tell to generations of children.”

“Aye, our story should be worth a seat by many a home’s fireside clear until our old age.  It’s not a story to grow old soon.”

The boys rode for a small space and then Gilly asked, “How do ye suppose the Father was able to compose a lifetime of experiences within the short few minutes we slept?”

 “I’m not knowing,” mused McGillicuddy.  “Perhaps there’s two ways to walk through time.  You know, like when some days seem to drag on exceedingly long and others just aren’t long enough.  Maybe there is a straight line from one moment to the next we can walk and maybe there’s a longer, meandering route that can be walked from one moment to the other.  Possibly we took the shorter route while others routinely take the longer route.  That would account for us experiencing a whole year in just an hour.”

“The Book does say the Lord’s time is not our time,” agreed Gilly.

“Aye,” continued McGillicuddy,  “if He is capable of squeezing a thousand years into a single day, then He is certainly capable of squeezing a whole year into a few moments past midnight.”

“But for what purpose, Cuddy?”

“I’m not knowing unless perhaps it was a vision having something to do with our future—kind of a fairy tale to let us know in advance of the actual circumstances.”

Gilly shuddered, “I’m not wantin’ much to be thrown into a prison again and be that near a hanging rope and I’m certainly not wishing to see a valley full of the dead of Ireland.”

“Aye, and me neither,” agreed McGillicuddy with great intensity.  “Perhaps then, it was not so much a portent of things to come but a warning as to how we are to conduct ourselves in all things which pertain to a prospering of folks like ourselves.”

“Let’s hope that’s the case and that we took our lessons to heart,” fervently spoke Gilly. 

Gilly’s eyes grew misty and he relapsed for a bit into feeling sorry over the great fortune he had lost.  “One would think that when the Father has given His blessing on one’s efforts and granted that which one has asked, that the requested thing should appear in the hand and the rest of one’s life should be spent in something resembling the Garden of Eden revisited.  But here we are where we started and a day hungrier and not a whit enriched.”

 Cuddy gently chided, “It’s not really true that we are not a whit enriched.”

“How so?”

“In our heads we’ve a knowledge about ourselves and experiences shared we did not have before.  That’s a richness of its own.  We also heard our Father’s blessing on our life.  That is something we can treasure.  While good men share the blessing if they but have the faith to reach out and secure it, we’re a little different because it’s been plainly spoke for us.”  

Gilly openly beamed, “You’ve hit upon something grand, Cuddy.  I’m remembering David had the blessing spoken for him.  The word was he would have a kingdom.  Solomon had the blessing spoken for him.  The word was he would be a wise man.  The good Wandering people had the blessing spoken for them.  The word was they would be a free people and have a land of their own.  We’ve just entered the ranks of the spoken for, Cuddy.”

 “Aye, and for that we’re in good company.”  McGillicuddy took a multicolored handkerchief from a much worn pocket and gently wiped the midday perspiration from his forehead.  “I’m thinking a man’s word hasn’t much power without the Father’s backing,” he said.  “And it seems from our grand dream that we’ve got the Father’s backing in our possession.”

“Well, I don’t see any means of procuring a good meal for myself from that possession,” replied McGillvery a bit testily over a severely complaining stomach.

“No, wait just a bit.  I’ve an idea coming steady and sure.”

McGillvery sat quiet. 

“We know we were given the blessing.  We heard it as the last words spoken in the Father’s Kingdom.  When David, Solomon, and the good Wandering People had the Lord’s spoken blessing, they were able to see the blessing leap out of the world of words into the material world.  So,” continued McGillicuddy, “since we’re blessed, all we have to do is act like we are and proceed with a plan.”

“’An there I’m disagreeing,” contradicted McGillvery.  “Not just any plan will do.  It would have to be something He approved of in its entirety.”

“If there were no wrong attached to it, He couldn’t be disapproving,” argued McGillicuddy.  “It may be He always approves of a good man’s plan and already has forces set in action to help a worthy man’s plans along.”

“Aye, but perhaps there’s something He’s needin’ done on the earth and if we were a part of that something that’s needin’ done, we would find ourselves in a river of prosperity and goodness.”

McGillicuddy raised his eyebrows at Gilly and said, “For instance?”

“Well, for instance perhaps it’s His will for people not to be sewing with needles any more, but to be sewing with machines, like the one we saw at the fair last year.  He has the idea and some person on earth has got to get that idea.  Whoever gets that idea and acts on that idea, gets the fortune, too.  Or, like the idea of the snaps on clothing or finding one of the new medicines…you understand, Cuddy?”

“Kind of like when a King is deciding to build a road across the country and men decide to be a part of his plan and each is prospered according to the part he plays in the plan.”

“Yes, that’s it!” said McGillvery excitedly.  “All we got to do is figure out what He’s planning to do next and be there.  Then we’ll be on a sure start toward regaining our Everfilling bags.”

McGillicuddy scratched the side of his ear thoughtfully and said, “It’s a mighty good idea, Gilly; but, I’m a little short of knowin’ how we can read the Lord’s mind about what ’e’s planning to do next.  ’An even if we did know what He was schedulin’, there’s a heap of things neither of us are capable of doing.  For instance, if He was preparing to deliver the idea of the machine that does the sewing like we saw at the fair last year, even if he gave us the blueprints as complete as Noah’s Ark, I’m not sure we’d have the skills necessary to make such a fine thing as that.”

McGillvery grimaced at the tangled mess of thoughts in his mind and for a bit of relief from such severe thinking, looked at the sun and remarked, “It’s getting on near the mid-day meal, and it seems powerful hot to me today.”

“It’s just because ye’re hungry,” replied McGillicuddy, changing the subject comfortably.  “If ye had a full meal in your insides, you wouldn’t be feelin’ the heat at all.”

McGillvery set his jaw and looked hopelessly upon the comfortably ambling haunches of Belle and Shade.  “It’s quite a view we have from our tinker’s seat,” he complained gently. 

“Not quite as grand as the libraries filled with leather bound books and tables set with plenty,” admitted McGillicuddy.  “And yet, if we raise our eyes just a bit, the view is quite lovely.”

McGillvery raised his eyes beyond the tinker horses’ well-padded haunches and looked around at the scenery before them.  “Ye know, Brother, we’ve always let the road guide our way.  Wherever it went, we went.”

“It’s the way of a tinker,” returned Cuddy.  “And, perhaps is the way of all men—following along wherever it seems best to go.”

 “Well, now, it seems ye’re right in this instance—a body should have a plan of some kind.  We didn’t really have the intention of ending as do most men, did we? Following the road wherever it may go seems like a mindless river running to the sea.”

“Or a river running out in the desert sand.”

“Once it gets there—whether sea or sand, ’tis no longer fresh, useable water, and its strength is well used and lost.”

McGillicuddy was silent and then said, “The problem with setting a plan, Gilly, is—it could fail.”

“Aye, failure can be a largely devastating instance even for the most faith-filled men—a serious damage to a fellow’s hopes and beliefs in the good Father’s helping hand,” acknowledged McGillvery.

“Perhaps we should be continuing just as we are and letting the Father make the best out of our life as it is,” resigned Cuddy.  “It’s a true fact that for Him, out of nothing comes something.  Being that it seems we are kind of nothings on the face of the earth, we can be the humble lads and let the Father make something out of our sorry condition.”

  McGillvery thought about this for a while and then said, “And, perhaps that’s how a man keeps ambling down the road and at the end of his life has nothing to show for it.  For the Father will always keep us and He has, but not necessarily in the plenty and comfort we’re desiring.  In our grand dream, it seems we developed a plan and we took action on that plan and most of the time we were not knowin’ whether the Father was helping us or not and despite fearsome circumstances, we kept working our plan and in the end it turned out quite well.”

“What were the circumstances that led us along charting such a path?” asked Cuddy meditatively.  “Are ye remembering them?”

“We had a great need.”

“We had a great desire.”

“We thought about it some.”

“We asked for supernatural help.”

“We talked about it some.”

“We acted in faith on a plan we had spoken with words into the air.”

“We believed we had permission from Someone greater than ourselves to think, to talk, and to act on a grand plan and we acted and defended ourselves in every instance as if that Someone was backing our prospering in every way.”

“That’s it in a smallish nut’s shell.”

“When things did not happen exactly as we wished, what did we do?”

“We kept our thoughts, our words, and our actions, didn’t we?”

“Aye.  We kept them as a fine three-fold cord working all strongly for the same purpose together.”

“We weren’t unraveling our cord, were we?”

“Nay, we did not—not even in the face of severest provocation.  A little discouragement is not the time to break the cord into fragmented pieces.” 

“Sure, that’s the truth.  It’s seemin’ to me King David didn’t get his kingdom all at once.  Seems he was allowed to grow a little.  He did acts of courage with Goliath and then was recognized by the King.  He was around a king’s court for a time and developed friends in high places.  Then he spent a great long period in the company of men not so well thought of with responsibilities for doing the right thing at all instances for himself and his men.  Then, finally, he was given a kingdom.  But even with his prize in hand, his life did not go easily.  I would not say it was an Eden revisited, Brother.”

McGillvery nodded his head judiciously, “Aye.  For that ye’re right.  Even the wandering people after being given their promise had to fight for its appearance into the real world.”  Gilly suddenly turned to Cuddy excitedly saying, “You have said another something quite grand, brother, without perhaps knowin’ what ye’ve said.  The good Wandering people failed to understand the process of making promises come true the first time, didn’t they?  And, their promise did not come true for themselves.  But in the second instance, their children did not misunderstand.  They took up the grand fight at Jericho and showed themselves capable of following the directions given them.  Then, they fought again and again and again to make their promise a reality.  We mustn’t make the same mistake the first group of Wandering people made.  We’ve a promise of our own and we’ve need to go through whatever may be necessary to make it come true despite fearsome obstacles, places to go, and heights to climb that may seem quite impossible to conquer.”  Gilly suddenly stood from the wagon’s seat in zealous enthusiasm, brandished an imaginary sword, and shouted quite loudly, “We need to fight!”

Cuddy smiled a bit at his brother’s zestful action and added sensibly, “It seems making something real is akin to having the most severe of birth pains and if one is not willing to have those pains then the thing will not be given life.”  

Gilly’s mouth dropped open in astonishment.  “Cuddy, the truest of words are pouring from your mouth in a rich stream.  We’re not lads of holding back and not pursuing the prize.  We didn’t hold back once in our grand adventure, did we?”

“Nay, we did not.  We pressed through to the end despite fearsome obstacles to overcome.”

“Then that should be a portent for us as to how we are to act, now that we are in Ireland, and we ARE in Ireland, Brother.  I see it now.  We’ve been given a grand vision of what is to be if we’ve the courage to act rightfully and move forward purposefully to win our prize.”

“Aye,” spoke Cuddy, catching some of Gilly’s excitement.  “Thinkin’ back over all the stories we were told by our dear mum, I’m realizing our Lord is not much one to hand out the promises without a fair share of sweat and work to receive them on the human end of things.  Therefore, all we’re needin’ to do is move forward understanding that the fortune and blessing is already ours, we are just in need of working for it.”

“I’m willin’ to move forward, Cuddy.  Where and what are we to move forward to?”

“That was our original question, wasn’t it?”

“Aye, it was,” replied Gilly, suddenly sitting down on the wagon’s seat as if he were a balloon which had been instantly deflated.  He hung his head and said in a most woeful manner, “We just talked ourselves into a circle.”

Cuddy wrinkled his face into a tight knot of concentration and then abruptly said, “I don’t know where we’re to move forward to.  Even the wandering people had a direction in which to go.  They were shown the step of their way.  I’m not really seeing the next step of our way.”

“Perhaps if we’re lookin’ like we’re ready to go and keep moving along, it will come to us,” suggested Gilly.

“Aye,” said Cuddy doubtfully.

“Perhaps we should look for those treasury rooms again or for a rich vein of gold in the mountains,” suggested Gilly.

 “In truth,” sighed Cuddy.  “I’m not really even knowing what gold or rich ore would look like unless it had been piled high in a room full of nuggets like the Lord’s treasury rooms.  If we was presented with a stone and told it was one of rare value, I’d not know it from a piece of glass.  We’re both a little short of knowledge about such matters.”

Gilly lowered his head humbly.  “We’re a little short of knowing about many things, Cuddy,” he agreed.

“We’re fair knowledgeable about picking a good horse and striking a fair bargain,” spoke Cuddy a bit defensively.

“Well, that’s a start, isn’t it?  And our Mum taught us the fair dealing manners that belong to the Lord’s own men.  We’ve not to overcome a rearing that didn’t tell us the truth about those matters.”

The same wind that has played through the tops of the trees along their way, drifted into the road and quietly wafted through Belle and Shade’s manes up to the wagon to ruffle the pages of the Book lying on the seat between them. Cuddy picked the Book from its place on the seat, placed his hand on the page, and after reading silently for some time, said, “It’s a piece about three men who were slaves in a land not their own.  They had no property nor status in the world and in truth, sounds as if they were much the worse off than we are, and it says the King requested their education at the university in Babylon for their good looks and pleasing ways.  The story says they became so well-educated that they could answer questions no other young lads were able to answer so well.”

  “That’s a pretty story,” replied McGillvery.  “But, I’m not seeing how it’s helping us to take the right turn in the road.”

“’An me neither.  Seems to have no relevance at all,” puzzled McGillicuddy.  “Is there another help?” he asked while handing the Book to Gilly.

Gilly closed the Book and opened it again.  “It’s a piece in Proverbs, Cuddy,” he said.

“Begin reading.”

“It’s saying that we should be ‘giving a listening ear to wisdom and directing our heart to intelligence.’  It says, ‘If we hunt for it as we would for silver and search for it as we would for buried treasure, Then we shall understand the fear of Jehovah and find the knowledge of God because Jehovah gives wisdom and out of his mouth come knowledge and intelligence.’”

 “Perhaps,” hesitated Cuddy, “the verse is not telling us about the searching for the wisdom so much as it is telling us not to go searching for the hard coin.”

“But we’re needing the hard coin!” objected Gilly mightily.

“Aye, but maybe the coin is to come natural like.  Maybe it’s a shy thing that when it’s pursued, it runs blushing into the shady woods never to be found.”

“It wasn’t too shy when we’d plenty of it.”

“Aye, but perhaps it’s like a wife to be wooed.  Shy at the beginning and telling you to mind yer manners at the end.”

“Let’s take the advising verse to pieces word by word and see if all these years we’ve been missing something.”

The boys were hunched over the Book in such deep concentration that they were nearly passing by Earl Donogough’s estate before taking notice.  Gilly turned to Cuddy, eyes strangely alight, and said, “Did ye notice how the young Sean Connor said that he was attending the university with the sons of the Nobles and Lords?  I’m not knowin’ much about such matters; but it has occurred to me if the Lords and Noblemen are so careful to send their children to university, there must be something of value in it.  I can’t imagine such wily men spoiling their children’s time with anything that is un-worthwhile.”

Cuddy did not reply.

“Sean Connor said they could all read and write.  It may be that their fathers long ago read the Book’s story of the three slaves and how going to university worked out so well for the slaves.  They may have decided that if a university education could work out so well for a slave, it might work out quite well for a nobleman’s son.  This story says that one of those slaves lived all his life in a palace while maintaining a position of honor and influence.  I can’t imagine such a slave ever having gone hungry unless he especially wished it.  Perhaps the Noblemen decided the university education would always be helping their children along toward a higher life.”

Cuddy solemnly replied, “All the education in the world cannot hold a godless man from ill circumstances, Gilly.  That slave was a favorite of the Father for his goodness.  I’m not seeing how a university education could do a Nobleman’s son much good if he was not a good man himself to go along with the education.”

“I’m not disputing that, Cuddy.  First, comes fear of the Lord.  It is the first rung for all Ladders leading to successful places.  We will build from that rung in order to have a foundation firmly planted.  Nevertheless, while that slave knew a good deal about his Lord, he also became the university man.”

“So, what are ye drivin’ at?”

“Maybe there’s more than one kind of wisdom.  Maybe there’s the wisdom one gets from reading the Book and maybe there’s another wisdom one gets from places like the university.  Maybe the Father is wantin’ us to have a little of both kinds of wisdom in order to do well—to be the well-balanced men.  Do ye remember what that verse said about the Father?  It said He was ‘determining a weight for the wind, and proportioning the water by measure, and making a law of nature for the rain.’  Seems He is powerful knowledgeable to be weighing the wind.  I’m thinking we’ve always studied His personality and the ways He deals with men and the ways men are to deal with each other to please Him well.  But, that isn’t the only thing the Father is about…he also is a designer, a mathematician, an engineer, a physicist, a doctor, a maker of laws (a lawyer), a writer, a speech-maker, and ever so many more things.  In addition to studying His personality, it seems we could choose one of the other facets of His being and endeavor to be the best men we could be in imitation of that facet of His person.”

 “Ye’re thinkin’ we’re supposed to be knowin’ things like how to weigh the wind?”

“I’m not certain of the value of knowin’ something like that; but perhaps in some places on earth it would be right valuable to know how to do such a thing.  We’re not knowin’ much about how other people live and think beyond those we sell to every day, Cuddy, and in truth those people are the poor of the land.  We’re not invited through the Noblemen’s gates and are not knowin’ the things they value, think, or talk about.”

“Are ye thinkin’ the Lords and Nobles sons are knowin’ those kinds of things—like weighing the wind—and we’re to become more like them?”

“I’m not sure imitating a man is as of much value as imitating our Father in Heaven.  After all, men make the mistakes and our Heavenly Father is quite free of those mistakes.  Seems it would be the higher calling to imitate the higher example.  However, the Book doesn’t say much on how the Father weighs the wind and the Lords and Nobles would have to be instructing us in such matters for us to learn.  So I’m feeling maybe we’re needin’ to be around the places they are around.  We’re wantin’ to have the life they have.  We’re wantin’ the hard coin.  Maybe by associating with the people who have the hard coin, we can be catchin’ on to the knowledge and perhaps catching on to the hard coin in the process.”

 “Hard coin is usually got by hard work,” objected Cuddy.

“An’ I’m not one to object to that, but I’m seein’ a whole Irish stewpot full of men working their lives away till they can’t work no more and out of all that work the best of them have earned no more than a place by a child’s fireside, a rocker, and a bowl of stew to gum down at end of day.  It hurts me so to think that after a whole life’s work that’s all a fellow has to show for it.  If work alone was such a touted thing, there should be a little more to show for a man’s whole life.”

“I’m not seeing much wrong with earning a place by a fireside, Gilly.  It’s the way of all things from the birthing to the dying.  What are ye fighting so against, Brother?  It seems you’re fighting life itself and the way things go on this earth.”

“Well, what if a man didn’t work all his life, what would he have at the end of it?  Someone would feel just that sorry for ’im and sit ’im in a rocker and feed ’im ’is stew just the same.  He gets the same reward for no trouble as the man who troubled himself all his life.  But, you take the rich man—there’s something different about him.  I’m not sure if he works or he doesn’t work, so I’m not able to judge on the value of work in his case, although from small observations it seems to me they’re quite busy telling others to go to work while sitting in their chair a great deal of the time, so I’m thinking it is their tongue that works more than their other bodily muscles, but they sit in a fine castle with an accumulation of lovely things upon which to occupy their eye and never see a shortage of all the little delicacies that can make the pain of old age go away just a mite.  So, I’m not seein’ a direct relationship between the pains of work and the opulence a man desires.”

Cuddy said, “Our Father made it a natural law that man must work, Gilly.  After the Garden of Eden it was a requirement laid on all men.  I’m not seein’ how a fellow can disregard a natural law and have any profit from that ignorance.  Even King Solomon said that by every type of hard work there would be a benefit.  We may not understand the work that a rich man does…but in fact, he may keep the longer hours and work much harder than we with greater discipline thrown in on top of it.  We’re not knowing the truth of it and it’s not a good thing to be judging.   The truth of the matter may be that it is an unnatural thing to have wealth in great abundance.  It seems everything on this earth likes to settle out at low places.  Look at water and how it does—always looking for the lowest place to run to.  Money may be the same and to keep it from doing that may take a prodigious amount of energy.  It may be the wealthy men have long ago learned how to work prodigiously to keep it in place and just naturally pass that work ethic on to their children.  And as far as opulence, well, there’re different kinds of opulences for different kinds of men.  Mum used to say in her old age that out of all the treasures of the earth, none brought more joy to her eye than us.  I would think a man whether rich or poor would find his eye lighting on his children and his children’s children the richest treasure he possesses.  As far as the delicacies that may be eaten, what is more delicious in helpless old age than a stew served by the hand of someone who loves you a great deal?  It seems to me that is the richest treasure a man can find on this troubled earth.  Truth to tell, Gilly, that treasure is found only through a lifetime of good deeds, loving action toward others, a kind tongue, and a helpful disposition toward all.”

“Well, aren’t you the sagacious one?  Just as if children by the pampering and feeding and loving and spending one’s whole youth on rearing them will automatically turn into the most grateful of creatures who will spoon feed old men at their fireside with lovely little cooings of delight at their presence.  That’s a bit weak-minded, Cuddy.  Ye’ve seen good and worthy men abandoned to the poor homes by children living their own lives without regard for an aged parent.  Ye’ve seen council meetings scornful of the poor and feeble ones who’ve they’ve a necessity to provide sustenance and delivery from starvation and homelessness by taxing the citizens of their villages and provinces.”

“I thought we was talking about the luckiest of the aged, Gilly,” reminded Cuddy.

“Well, if that’s what got ye started talking nonsense, then let’s talk about the unluckiest.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Then let’s talk about the most of them.”

“I’d rather not them either.”

“We weren’t talking about the elderly at all when we first started this conversation anyway,” said Gilly querulously.  “We were talking about the value of work and I was saying I don’t see much value in it for gathering a surplus of hard coin for the reason that the most of men work mightily all their lives and they don’t possess the coin.  So, my idea is: there is something that a rich man is doing that a poor man is not doing and by doing that thing a wealthy man becomes wealthy and by not doing that thing a poor man stays poor.”

“I thought we long ago said it was due to the Lord’s blessing that a man garners surplus.”

“That’s the first thing and primary thing, most certainly, the base upon which all the rest is situated, but there’s something more, something those wealthy men have in common, something they share alike between them that allows them to partake of a broader range of life.”

“And?”

“Well, don’t you have ears?  I’ve been trying to tell you.  Those men all send their children to university and I’m thinking it’s there that they learn a terrible secret that helps them secure and maintain their wealth.”

“Gilly,” said an exasperated Cuddy.  “Why did you have to go all around the barn instead of coming straight away through the front door and speaking your mind about what your conclusion is?  I’m not agreeing with you in this instance.  Did ye notice Sean Connor and how he was wantin’ to ride on the wagon seat all day and read books while looking at the countryside?  That seemed a little worthless to me and him having a Mother and Father to be helping.  Did ye notice his hands now?  Soft and white like a woman’s.  If that’s what the university education does for a man, I’m thinking it made the brain as soft as the hands and I’m not wishin’ a part of it.”

“Well, why do ye think we’re going to Dublin Town, then?”

“I wasn’t going for a university education!”

“Didn’t ye get the whole thing that’s just happened?  Ye were wantin’ direction.  How much more direction can you get than that?  A young fellow mistakin’ us for students and practically inviting us to the university, the story of the slaves and them getting their education, and then the suggestion that we seek for the intelligence as hardily as we would the gold of the Sinks.  How much more direction are ye needin’ than that?  It’s a fierce shame to be thick-headed, Brother!”

Cuddy stubbornly shook his head.  “We can read and we can write.  We’re good lads.  What more can the university teach us of good morals and proper standards of living than we already know?”

“I’m sure not knowing, but it’s a place valued by them that has greater position on this earth than we do and I’m all for trying to better ourselves if we at all can!”

Cuddy was astounded, dumbfounded, shocked, stunned, amazed, and flabbergasted.  Finally, he shook his head a bit while thinking it had never been their way to be at odds on any subject.  “Two heads are better’n one,” sighed Cuddy unenthusiastically.  “Off we go,” he said, taking the reins with a firm shake. 

“I’m detecting a bit of reticence, Brother,” objected Gilly.  “Why would that be?  Didn’t we have the same goal?”

“Aye, but maybe just different ideas on how to get there.”

“Then, let’s forget our own ideas and stop by the side of the road and ask One higher than us to show us a final way.”

Belle and Shade once more dutifully stopped and resumed the swishing of tails against the occasional fly while the brothers bent their heads to their mother’s Book.

“Finding treasuries of wisdom and knowledge will get you through your times.”

“There do ye need any more proof than that?”

“Nay,” said Cuddy resignedly.  “Mark it down in Mother’s Book.  Two good lads are beginning a new adventure into an unknown land.  May the Father of us all bless and prosper his two worthy men.”

 


 

Chapter 3

The Earth Opens

When a good man makes his mind to do something, a smallish path opens in the world allowing room for a footing in life.  Little tendrils push up from good soil giving him a boost here and there, helping him along his way.  Because Gilly and Cuddy had made their minds to obtaining an education, the very ground beneath them began to swell in undulating waves for the express purpose of helping them make a proper tactical approach to a new way of being.  It was a remarkable thing how their circumstances began to immediately change for the better.

The Brothers were long past the Donogough estate when Cuddy looked ahead of the horses while nodding briskly.  “There’s that inhospitable cottage and I’m seein’ the brawny man standing out front wavin’ frantic arms and comin’ this way.”

“Most likely someone stole one of his sheep last evening and ’e’s wantin’ to blame us,” complained Gilly.  “Hi-up Belle.  Hi-up Shade,” he urged in an effort to get the horses past the turn in the lane leading to the man’s cottage.

The man began yelling in a most blustery manner causing Cuddy to reach and to pull the reins short. “There’s no sense running from trouble,” he admonished.  “We’ve done no harm.”

            “I’m for passin’ by,” sighed Gilly as Cuddy clambered from the top seat of the cart to see about the man’s business.

            “Well, Brother,” said McGillicuddy, returning some moments later, “we’ve been asked for late breakfast with tea and the man wishes to look over our gray mare.”

            McGillvery looked dumbfounded.

            McGillicuddy shrugged and said, “I can smell the apple tarts baking in the oven.”

“Well,” hesitated Gilly doubtfully, “there’s not a tart made in Ireland worth being caught in a kitchen with a belly too full to run while a crazy man’s pullin’ a gun from behind the stove.”

“I’m thinking it’s all right,” reassured Cuddy.  “He spoke most kindly to me and the invitation seemed quite sincere.  Who’s knowin’? Perhaps he had an argument with one of his workers or even his wife last night just before we pulled into his yard.  When a man’s got his temper flaring over one matter it’s not a good time for discussing anything until he’s had time to settle down a bit.”

Not convinced, Gilly allowed Belle and Shade’s patient turning into the lane and once again approached the cottage door which was neatly flanked on each side with Ireland’s best offering of pinkest Banshee roses.

“Cuddy, do ye smell the herring frying?” asked Gilly, surprised at the rich smells rolling from the cottage windows.

“Aye, I do,” he grinned, much pleased.  “The woman seems to be making for breakfast the same as she made for supper and we’ll not miss a bit of it this morning for we’ve a proper invitation.”

Belle and Shade stopped at cottage door and the man came out saying, “Nay, not here.  The animals look as if they could use some grain.  Unhitch your cart and I’ll have one of my farmhands take the horses to pasture while you sup with me and my wife.”

The boys refrained from exchanging amazed glances with each other, lowered their heads to unfasten Belle and Shade’s reins, untied the gray mare from the back of the wagon, and soon were sitting at a white linen cloth-covered table filled to over-brimming with plentiful helpings of finest breakfast fare prepared at the hands of a very good cook.

Silence prevailed for the space of nearly an hour as the boys competed with the brawny man in goodly shares of apple tarts covered with dollops of the thickest part of the cow’s cream, pan prepared potatoes laced generously with garlic and onions, herring fried to crispy brown piled high on platters of white ceramic, and the ever present plates of lamb chops dipped in a batter of flour and egg baked in butter and peppercorns.  Large pitchers of cool milk sat at the elbow of each brother with generously filled sugar bowls and personal pots of tea placed directly in the front of the plates.

The woman smiled encouragingly at the boys throughout the meal while adding to the soda bread’s disappearing pile with fresh slices kept warm in oven.  Finally, McGillicuddy pushed his chair back from a severely diminished table and said, “Sir, you’ve beat me sure.  I would like to partake of everything else on this table for the goodness of it, but I’m as full as a good Irish lad can be.”

The woman beamed and said, “I’m packing the leftovers for your journey.  My man eats only fresh and our boys are all out to field today.”

McGillvery nodded his head and said, “It’s a rare thing for a bachelor tinker to be eating a good meal—and a meal like this made by one with such a gift for the culinary arts—well, that’s a once in a lifetime treat.  I’m thanking ye truly for yer hospitality.”

The woman’s oven flushed cheeks decidedly took on a deeper colored hue from Gilly’s sincere compliment and she turned to begin packing the soda bread and tarts in brown paper while placing the lambs chops in the bottom of a large wooden crate.  The master of the house pushed his chair back to the wall and gazed benevolently at the two tinkers.  “We’ve time to do business, now.  First I’ll be talking to ye about your gray mare and then the missus will be looking at yer wares.”

Cuddy nodded and leisurely poured a third cup of tea.  “The mare’s a sound one.  We traded for ’er up North a few weeks ago.  She’s been following our wagon since and getting’ better day by day.  She seems to have had a stone bruise to her hind right foot.”

“’An ’ow old are ye supposin’ ’er to be?”

“I’m thinkin’ she’s right young by looks of her teeth.  The man who traded ’er said she is trained for buggy or riding and can pull field plow in a pinch although she’s not built much for that.”

“She’s foaled before?”

“Aye.  He said she’s ’ad one colt and he thought she might be that way again but not by his plannin’.  ’E lived next door to Lord Danby and Danby’s stallion was over the fence a couple of times to visit.”

“Blooded line perhaps comin’ out of that mare, then?”

“Perhaps.  The lad said the stallion throws true and it wasn’t worth the Lord’s wrath to have a colt running free with the stallion’s marks on it so he thought it best to be tradin’ since she bruised her foot, too.”

The man rubbed his chin with just a hint of greed showing behind shrewd eyes.  He pushed his chair to the side, laced his boots, and stood.  “We’ll be going to look at ’er.”

McGillicuddy drank the last sip of his tea and they followed the man to the lower stone barns.  The gray mare had been placed inside a stall and was quite content licking the last bits of grain from an aged wooden trough.  Belle and Shade were outside in the pasture grazing alongside a stream.  By the positioning of the gray mare, the man already had intentions of making her his own.  McGillicuddy sighed happily; this looked to be an easy trade.

But the man was shrewd.  He removed the mare from stall into sunshine and began examining her with the eye and hand of an expert.  He finished by feeling her belly and having McGillvery trot her round and round in a very large circle and then in a very small circle.  He finally nodded and said, “How much?”

“What ’ave ye got in trade?” asked Cuddy.

“Nay, not trade.  I do me business in hard coin.  What comes onto my place stays on my place.  I buy well and keep better,” he said.

Cuddy straightened visibly.  It had been many a long winter since anyone had offered hard coin for their products.  He cleared his throat and said carefully, “Name your price.”

“Nay,” shook the man’s head.  “Ye name your price.”

McGillicuddy thought for a moment and said, “For a tinker, ’tis not polite to name before the prospective buyer.  Please, name your price.”

The man looked at McGillvery and said, “Trot her round in circle again.”  He carefully watched the right rear foot and said, “I’ll be feedin’ an keepin’ ’er without work in return until she’s well and then there’s always the off chance she’ll not mend.”

The dickering had begun.  Cuddy launched into what he did best with the proper admitting comment, “Aye, that’s true,” and then the smallish rebuttal.  “However, she’s an easy keeper.  Without grain, has a great deal of vigor and strength.  Stays fat on grass alone.”

The man considered this carefully and said, “If she’s with foal, I’ll have the added burden of the foal to keep and the training.”

“’An it may have a sire of thoroughbred origin and it’ll be like having two horses for the price of one.”

“Aye,” agreed the man, “however, that’s a gamble since it’s not sure of her being with foal and there’s always the chance of losing her while attempting to birth.”

“But she has successfully borne before this and no troubles at it.  Being the horseman you are, you’re well knowin’ it’s the first bearing that’s the dangerous one.”

“All this talk without knowin’ for sure if she’s with foal,” returned the man.  “’An there’s always the chance her foot won’t heal.”

The mare was standing sideways to the man flicking her ears back and forth at a summer lazy fly.  Somewhere to the south of them McGillvery seemed to hear a hay swathing machine rolling.  He imagined richly laden fields of green quietly surrendering to the insistence of the cutting blades.  He had a rich sense of peace throughout the bartering process.  He was practiced enough, as was Cuddy, to know the man was already set to buy and would do so before long.  He relaxed in the drowsing sun and swatted the fly as it occasionally meandered from the mare into his domain while thinking about the excellent breakfast and the fine wooden box the woman had packed for their journey.  He was startled out from his daydreaming by the man saying, “Done!” in a rather loud voice.

“Put her in the barn, lad,” the man ordered.  “An’ now the missus will have a look at your wagon’s wares.”

The boys trudged up the hill toward the stone house to unload their fabrics and pans. 

“Bring them in.  Bring them in,” the woman urged.  “I’ll not be standing in the heat of the day to make my decisions.”

Soon the main room of the house was fairly lined with all the merchandise McGillvery and McGillicuddy had to offer.  Somehow it looked much less shabby when spread around the room in inviting positions enticing the buyer to purchase.  McGillicuddy even brought in the ceramic dish set covered in gold and red roses that his father had purchased so long ago and had never been able to trade or sell.  It was the first thing the woman set upon.

“It’s a grand theme, isn’t it?” she noted.  “Of course, it’s a bit old fashioned.  I’ve not seen that pattern since me mother’s day.”

“Aye,” admitted McGillvery.  “It is near twenty years old and a complete set, brand new without use.”

“Brand new and twenty years old?” she marveled. 

“Aye, a purchase of my father’s and us not wantin’ much to be rid of it for the sentiment attached to it.”

She looked at him and said, “Then it was not wise that you set it in front of my eyes for I’m determined to have it.  Does it have a matching teapot?”

“No, Ma’m,” replied McGillvery.

“Then that takes down the worth of it somewhat,” she noted.

“However,” McGillvery said, “you’ll notice the unusual addition of a gravy boat, porcelain ladle, dessert dishes, and serving spade with matching gold and roses.”

“Aye,” she said.  “That I’d noticed, but what a shame there’s no teapot to go with the lovely cups.”

“I was noticing the charming pot you served with this morning.  Do ye happen to have it handy?”

“Aye,” she said, fetching it quickly from the top of the cooking shelf.

“There now, isn’t that pretty?” asked McGillvery setting it in the middle of the gold and rose pottery.  “Seems to match, doesn’t it—with its delicate white color and fancily trimmed handle with the gold around the rim?”

“That it does,” she said with wonder.  “My, what an eye you have for noticing even my serving dishes.”

“T’was a marvelous table you set, Ma’m.  It would take a hard eye not to notice the details of care you put into each part of the breakfast.”

The woman blushed crimson and said, “What is your price for the set?”

“What ’ave ye got to trade?” asked McGillvery.

“No trade,” said the woman.  “My man deals in hard coin only.”

“Name your price,” said McGillvery with just the correct amount of quickness.

To Gilly’s surprise, the woman named a goodly sum.  He nodded his acceptance and moved to the fabrics.  “For such a lovely set of porcelain, you’ll be needin’ fabric to show it to its best advantage and enough of the material to be making serviettes to match, of course.  May I recommend this sateen cloth purchased from Northern Ireland?  We all know the quality of the cloth from those mills, now don’t we?”

“Aye,” said the woman fingering the fabric carefully.  “And what is the thread count of this particular piece?”

“Four hundred,” said McGillvery.  “Not often does one see such fine weaving.  It will be durable for many a long year of heavy use.”

And so the rest of the day went until the woman had purchased nearly everything in their tinker’s cart.  Around three in the afternoon, she finally stood and said, “That’s all I’ll be needin’ and my man will settle accounts with you.”

The man had been dozing in the corner chair while his wife measured, counted, and purchased innumerable items.  He came awake as if queued and said, “Let me see your tally sheet and I’ll check it with mine and hers.”

He walked heavily into the kitchen and sat at table laboriously going over the figures.  In an hour he finally motioned with his hand and said, “We’ve purchased a fair lot of merchandise from you boys.  I’m looking at the total and I’m seein’ a substantial outlaying of hard coin.  I’m not much one wantin’ to part with so much coin at one setting.  You’ve saved my wife the cost of a buying trip to Dublin and that’s worth something now.  Yet, I’m thinkin’ we could barter on the final price a bit to make it more fair.”

McGillicuddy said, “What do ye have in mind?”

“I’m thinkin’ to take 15 percent off the total price as a fair way to settle the day.”

McGillicuddy leaned over the table and looked at the final figure.  “Let me speak with McGillvery for a moment and see if he’s agreeing.”

The boys went into the entryway for a moment and McGillicuddy said, “McGillvery, it’s hard put to come by coin and the total is that grand that I’m thinkin’ we can afford the 15 percent.”

McGillvery nodded his head in agreement and the boys returned to the kitchen table.  McGillicuddy said, “May I take a look at the papers again and show McGillvery?”

The man nodded and McGillicuddy took great care showing the totals to McGillvery while McGillvery nodded his head approving the long list.  “What say you, Brother?”

“Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t give a farthing for such a deal as that,” returned McGillvery.  “But in the case of this house, because of its great Christian hospitality and for the generous nature of the lady in feeding us, I would be pleased to accept the man’s offer, McGillicuddy.”

McGillicuddy looked at the man and said, “Then the deal is done and we’re wishin’ a blessing on the house and the merchandise you’ve purchased from us this day.”

The man nodded, well pleased with the acceptance of his dealing.  He reached deeply into a large leather bag at his side and pulled three heavy coin sacks from its depths for counting the exact amount to McGillvery and McGillicuddy.

By four and thirty in the afternoon, the business being concluded, McGillvery loaded the few items the woman had not purchased into their cart along with the very large box of food and they went their way with the man and woman waving the boys on their journey until they were out of sight.

“Did ye ever suspect such a thing from that house?” asked McGillvery wonderingly.

Cuddy shook his head, marveling.  “Never,” he said firmly.

“Did ye feel the weight of the sacks?” asked Gilly.

“Aye.  Even Father and Mother never did so well in one stopping.”

“It seems our fortunes have changed, Brother.”

“Perhaps so.  Perhaps so,” acknowledged Cuddy.

“If ye’d reach into that box, I’d eat a bit of soda bread and herring.”

“Did ye ever see such a plentiful supply of food?” wondered Cuddy as he opened the box and pulled brown paper wrapped parcels from its interior.  “She even packed a bit of marmalade, butter, cheese, and I’m seeing a fair laying in of fresh summer apples, too.  It seems she placed an extra supply of lamb chops other than those at table to the side.  I’m handing you your herring and biscuit now, Gilly.  Reach for it.”

“Mmmm,” replied Gilly biting into a large mouthful of fish and bread.  “A bit of tea would go well with this now.”

“There’s a large tin of tea placed in the corner of the box.  I’ll prepare some for the evening,” promised Cuddy.

“A large tin of tea besides all this richness?  The lady certainly had a large change of ’eart.”

“That’s to her everlasting favor.  It’s a good act to be hospitable to strangers and foreigners in a land.  ’Tis the Irish way and a good one to my way of thinkin’.”

The boys were passing a field on their right filled with men mowing and raking grass for winter hay.  One of the men raised his hand in friendly salute and another called, “Ye wouldn’t be having some pins, would ye?  My wife’s needin’ some.”

“Aye, we do,” returned Gilly, quickly stuffing the last of the fish and biscuit into his mouth, and pulling their wagon to the side of the road. 

The man loped to the side of the fence while several of the other fellows called, “Buy all he’s got, Jacob, and we’ll take some to our wives, too.”

McGillicuddy climbed into the back and pulled their last box of pins from its place on the floor while the man reached deep into his pockets.  “I’ve only ten coin,” he apologized.  “Will it be enough?”

“A fair trade it seems to me,” said Cuddy, carefully pocketing the coin and handing the box out the back of the wagon.

The man looked inside the wagon and said, “What else are ye havin’ to sell?”

“We’ve some scent for the ladies and a bit of green satin ribbon for their dresses.”

“Hullo!” hollered the man to the rest of the laborers.  “These men have favors for our womenfolk.”

The men lay down their rakes and scythes, walked leisurely to the field’s edge, and gathered round the back of the tinker’s cart while engaging in good natured bantering about the scent from the bottles McGillicuddy had lined for them to appreciate.

“That’s a tall bottle, MacDoodle.  Sure ye’re buying it for yer wife now?”

“An’ what would Mary be doin’ with that bottle of scent?  Dowsing it on you before ye’re comin’ to bed, I’ll bet.”

The men’s camaraderie continued until every bottle of the scent and every roll of the ribbons had found its way into a masculine pocket and a great deal of coin had found its way into the pockets of McGillvery and McGillicuddy.

“Since when have men hailed from the fields for our wares, Cuddy?” asked McGillvery as they were finally settled and pulling away from the field.

“Not anytime in my remembering,” replied McGillicuddy.

“Let me see one of those coin,” said McGillvery.

Cuddy handed one of the coins to McGillvery and he bit hard into it.

“Whatever are ye doing that for?” asked Cuddy in amazement.

“Just making sure we aren’t living in some kind of dream world, Cuddy.  It’s hard coin sure enough.”

Re-pocketing the coin, McGillvery pointed ahead.  “The crossroads—are ye having any further doubt as to where these two lads should be turning?”

Cuddy frowned and said, “Are ye still asking that question?  We’re set for the university, Brother.  We’ve been given a fiduciary start and we’re on our way.”

“Then,” said Gilly shaking a rein over Belle and Shade’s backs, “let’s be on our way,” and the horses obediently took the right turn in the road.

 


 

Chapter 4

A Stone in the Path

Just as they circled along the road leading to Dublin, one of Ireland’s wandering priests in travel-worn, road-dusty robes approached their cart and took hold of the lead rein at Belle’s neck.  “Now, where would two such seemly young men be taking themselves on such a fine day as this?” he asked.

“We’re off to university to acquire wisdom and knowledge,” answered Gilly truthfully.

“Off to university to acquire wisdom and knowledge?” repeated the priest.

“Aye, that we are,” affirmed Gilly innocently.

“Now, how could it be that two tinkers would have come by enough money to attend university?  A whole year’s wages of the common man will be spent for the acquiring of that less than holy knowledge.”

“We’ve been blessed by the Father and we’ve come rightly by hard coin to pay our way,” owned Gilly happily.

“Hard coin?” asked the priest, moving closer to the wagon’s seat.  “It’s not seemly that two such fine young men would allow the university to take hard coin away from them.  Didn’t ye have the proper rearing?  The church should have well taught ye that to have a blessing one must first give to the Lord.  Have ye tithed your hard coin, lads?”

Gilly looked shamefully down at his hands.  “Nay, we haven’t done our tithing,” he admitted meekly.

“Ye’re well knowin’ that the top of the coin must go to the church in order for the bottom layers to be properly blessed.  What a fortunate circumstance I wandered along your path this day.  You may tithe me and I shall pronounce a blessing on your store.”

McGillvery blushed deeply red.  “I’m most heartily sorry for it, Father.  But, if the price of the university is a year’s wages like ye were just sayin’, we’ll be needin’ all our coin.  For we’ve not that much in store.”

“And havin’ the rest be cursed?  Ye’re well knowin’ that failing to tithe can cause plans to go sadly awry.  You could find yourselves in the sad predicament of looking for twenty barrels of oil and coming up ten short of expectations.”

“Don’t be cursing us now, Father,” gently demurred Gilly.  “We’re upright lads who are in great need of all our coin—coin which we believe our Father has given us for this Godly endeavor.”

“Now, how would two lads such as ye are, be knowin’ the desires of the Father?  Are ye hearing voices speaking to ye now?”

            “Nay, we just read in our mum’s Book and we follow its direction,” spoke Gilly truthfully.

            “But how are ye knowin’ ye’re reading the direction of the Lord or the direction of the Devil himself?  The good Book says that His sheep will know His voice.  Are ye truly knowing the voice of your Lord, boys?”

Gilly was quiet before the black robes.

            “Ye see, lads, the Devil makes himself into an angel of light and he disguises himself to be like the good Lord and he would well be capable of having ye read in a certain way that could lead to your eternal destruction and damnation.”

            Quite disquieted at the old one’s words, Gilly exclaimed out of greatly disturbed heart, “What shall we do?  We’re not wanting to be in an offensive position before our Lord.  We’ve always looked to the heavenly hope, not the darkness and pain of that world below.”

            The priest gazed intently into Gilly’s eyes and said, “The University is a foul place full of demons and men’s philosophies.  To eat at that table is to eat at the table of the devil himself.  No good shall ever come out of a man who has entered those profane doors, for when he departs that unholy place, he will leave changed into the embodiment of evil, belonging heart, mind, and soul to the greatest Son of Impiousness—and we’re all knowin’ who that is.”

            Gilly shuddered knowingly and gripped Cuddy’s arm, “How could we have been making such a mistake, Brother?  Didn’t we read that we were to seek wisdom and knowledge and haven’t we been quite sure that it was at university we would find those two things?”

            Cuddy was quiet and did not respond.  He was thinking deeply on all that was said.  Finally, he asked, “Father, are ye knowing a person who has gone to university and become a godless man in that effort?”

            “Let me tell you a story,” said the old priest.  “There was a poor lad belonging to a God-fearing woman and he was wishing to raise himself in the world.  He looked at the Noblemen’s sons.  He noted they all went to university.  He told his dear mother, ‘Mother, I am that sorry for the condition we are in and I would like to keep you as do the Noblemen their families, but the labor of my hands is not sufficient to carry you through your old age and many sicknesses.  I’m wishing to honor you as commanded by our Lord, but it will take coin to do that and I’m thinking the place to procure the coin is at university.’”

            Gilly looked quite astonished, “Why, Father,” he cried tremulously, “the laddie was thinking just what we innocent lads were thinking.”

            “It’s not an uncommon thought, my son, just a misguided thought as ye shall see when I have finished my story.  The young boy went to university and he began studying all the day and working all the night.  His poor mother baked his potatoes, washed his clothes, and did without many goodly services and comforts had the lad worked for a good wage instead of studying all the day.  But she was the finest of loyal Mothers and daily followed her son’s progress while serving him faithfully on crippled, poorish legs.  What the lad did not understand is: university is made for the Noblemen’s sons, not the poor lads.  He was ill prepared for the work required of him while the Noblemen’s sons were disciplined from their youth for the tasks set before them.  While they were able to accomplish their academic responsibilities easily and spend evenings frolicking with friends, the lad was obligated to work at his studies.  Soon, for the strain of endeavoring to overcome a lifetime of poor preparation, the young lad found himself unable to find time to observe Sabbath.  He no longer accompanied his Godly mother to church for the effort he was putting into his studies.  He quit the tithing, for the cost of the books were far beyond his means, and he dipped into that which belonged to the Lord for his own needs.  Rarely did his mother receive the desired kiss on the withered cheek or the comforting hand on her furrowed brow from a son who loved her, for the lad worked the 24 hours and the 7 days per week.  Now even we know, laddie, that there’s only one who is tying a man’s hands so tightly that he doesn’t even hold in his grasp the one day of rest commanded by our Lord.”

            “The Slanderer himself,” supplied Gilly, raptly intent on the old one’s words.

            “Aye, the Diabolical One had trapped the young man so that little time was spent in the Lord’s house and all the time was spent at university.”

            “Did he fail then in his efforts to acquire the education because of his despising the Lord’s dwelling?” inquired Gilly tentatively.

            “Nay,” refuted the priest.  “He graduated a Philosopher of Science.”

            “Well, then,” admired Gilly grandly.  “The Lord would surely have forgiven him a few years at His house for the lad’s good intentions.  Now he could better serve his dear mother more properly and compensate for the sore years leading to his graduation.”

            “One would think so, one would think so,” mused the old one.  “But the university had taught him well and he no longer had the respect for the commandments.  Does not the commandment say to honor your father and your mother?”

            “Aye, but how could the young lad be side-stepping that commandment?  He was going to university to honor his mother quite well.”

            “But, the university’s an inflexible place, my son.  It teaches young men many harsh lessons.  The young lad began believing his mother had quite sinned against him by not providing him a place in the world such as the Noblemen’s sons had been afforded.  He began entertaining a positive disregard for the woman who had nursed him in his youth and began despising her tiny efforts at providing his meal and washing his clothes.  He told her, ‘I can get a maid to do better that for which you do for me.  What value are you, feeble female?’”

            “Fie,” burst Gilly, “what a heathen the young lad became—to cast away a heart who prized his very life true, as if that love were of no value!”

            “Ahhh, but the fact is university teaches laddies such as you that those who cannot turn the coin quite rapidly and garner large amounts of it have no value on this earth.  The young lad drew his lessons well and turned them against his loyal and most loving childhood protector.”

            “An’ how could ’e be doin’ that?”

            “How could he?  He spent his youth studying the books.  What wife would have him now?  What wife would he have?  He set loftily rapacious eyes on a Nobleman’s daughter for the gold she could bring.  He well knew the Nobleman’s daughter would have disdained his mother for her poverty, her talk, her manners, and her dress.  Future children would never be allowed to play in his mother’s home for its poverty.”

            A slight sickness began welling inside Gilly’s stomach.  He asked lowly, “What happened to the old Mother?”

            “The son was just that bothered his mother would ruin his prospects that, after diligent preparation on the eve just before Christmas, he stirred more than a bit of the sleeping drop into her tea and cut the fire in her room.  She slept through the night becoming death-cold without ever waking again.”

            “This is an awful tale ye’ve told,” cried Gilly emotionally.  “The son should have been drawn and quartered and hung on the gates for all to see—a despicable man who did not love his mother!  And her serving him all the years he went to university on her hurting legs and suffering along without the meat or fresh vegetables an honest son could have bought through his labor and…,” Gilly paused.  “Why! The young man was so evil he did not provide the old one little children to succor her and love her in her old age.  She had neither grandchildren nor the comfort of her son’s wife to make her meals and keep her fire warm!”

            “Aye, the young man was not even out the expense of his mother’s Christmas gift nor her Christmas meal.”  The old one shook his head slowly with lowered eyes as if contemplating the sadness of it all.  “Ahhh, yes,” he continued, turning his eyes upon the brothers.  “The young man had learned his lessons well.  But the point of the story is that it is the little steps along the way that lead a man down an empty path.  You are two fine laddies and ye’re planning on attending university and already sinning against the Lord by withholding the tithes from His very own.  As a Man of God, my most hearty advice to you two fellows is to turn your cart around from this most dangerous path, tithe to the Lord, and for the sins of your heart which have just been so plain for anyone to see, you should give half your coin to the poor.”

            Gilly’s tears ran freely down his cheeks.  “What a miserable mistake we were about to make, Cuddy.  We were putting first the university and putting second our Lord in common.  No such good could ever come from such an undertaking!”

            Cuddy had been quiet, watching the priest carefully, and he suddenly asked, “Father, were you educated at university?”

            “Why, yes,” said the Father.  “One cannot be a minister of the Lord without education at the university.”

            “Then, if you were educated at university and the university teaches one to multiply the coin rapidly and that is the only value a man has on this earth, then you yourself must be quite interested in multiplying the coin.”

            The Father’s eyes twitched slightly and he said, “Ahhh, but I was different than the other university lads.  I was serving my Lord all the while I was obtaining my education.  I was never tainted by the philosophies of men as were the others.”

            “Then,” said McGillicuddy, “we will do the same and be quite safe from the philosophies of men.  And we’re appreciating your advice Father.  We’ll be keeping it sound.” 

Cuddy reached behind him and handed the priest a packet of lamb chops and a bag of soda biscuits.  “For your hunger, Father,” he said and clicked his tongue at Belle and Shade, urging them forward.  The Father stepped quickly toward their reins and halted the horses’ forward progress.

            “Think of your mother, laddies,” he warned solemnly.  “You’ll be forsaking her certain.”

            “We have no Mother,” said Cuddy.  “She was long ago laid in her grave for our poverty of circumstances in not being able to buy her the medicines she so needed in her illness.  So I’m supposin’ your story does not much apply to us.  We’ve no parents needin’ honoring anymore.  All we have is the Lord to honor.”

            “You’ll not Honor him by going to university.”

            “We’re not the educated lads and we’ve not the knowledge you have about the Book, but we’re knowing that a fine way to honor the Lord is to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.”

            “That is entirely correct, my son,” said the Father.  “So, now is a good time to give the money for taking care of the poor,” and he reached a hand to the side of the tinker’s cart to accept his share of the boys’ funds.

            “Nay,” said Cuddy.  “If we give our university monies to you, it will go to feed your stomach and little will the poor see it.  If we spend our monies at university, there is, with our Lord’s blessing, a small chance we’ll become more than we are at this present time.  Then, with diligent effort, work, and our Lord’s blessing, we may eventually have more funds to properly distribute for sustaining the poor.”

 Cuddy shook the reins firmly over the tinker horses’ backs.  “It was a fine thing visiting with you, Father; but I’m noticing the afternoon is plodding along and we’ve business to be about as I’m certain you have business to be about.  Hi-up, Belle.  Hi-up, Shade.” And just that quick the boys were on their way.

            The Father stood in the middle of the road and called after them, “Ye’ll be cursed of the Lord above and have little share in Heaven’s Sweet Grace.”

            Gilly flinched at the vehement curse and said to Cuddy, “’Twas not a very kind way to be treating  a Father.”

            “Perhaps, but he was endeavoring to impoverish us, Gilly.  We kindly told him we had our plans and he used guile to sidetrack us and undermine our ability to procure a better life with the small funds we have.  That is not a kindness to us, Gilly.  We are the poor of the land.  If he has true feelings for the poor, he should be giving to us, not us to him.”

            Gilly thought about this for a while and said, “He wasn’t even generous enough to share a blessing or a fair word with us, was he?”

            “That is the least thing a man can do for another,” agreed Cuddy.  “There is always room for the good word and for the smile.  We received neither from the man.  Whether he be a representative of God or a fellow without qualifications of any kind, it is necessary to be decent in all matters.  Kindness goes a long way toward finding lasting prosperity, Gilly.”

            Gilly nodded and placed his hand on the bags of coin.  “Seems the coin is sticking to us right grandly this time.”

            “It may not stick so close once we get to university if the old priest was telling the truth about the rapaciousness of that place,” replied Cuddy.  “If he was, the university will be an old hand at skinning a fellow of all he’s got and we being the innocent lads could come out worse than better for trying.”

            “The heavenly Father has always been a hand for helping his own, Cuddy.  He keeps seven things at bay, remember?  Famine, war, the scourging tongue…we best be relying that He can keep us in the face of rapaciousness of all types, even that which may exist in high quarters.”  Gilly reached down to their mother’s book and placed it on his lap.  “We’ve always been kept, Cuddy.”

The brothers parted from their conversation at the appearance of two quite spirited horses loping in a westerly direction toward their wagon. 

 A handsome, well-dressed fellow hailed them.  “Poring over the books on short break?  You are the diligent fellows!  Are you returning to Dublin Town this early?”

 “Aye, that we be,” replied McGillvery.

“Then, are you planning on being there by Monday morning?”

“Aye, that we are.”

“Excellent!  I’ve a dispatch that needs delivering,” said the young man with a most winning smile.  “If you two fellows would be so kind as to deliver it, I’ll trade you my room and lodge at Maid’s Club for the first week in the new school session.”

At the boys’ surprised looks, he encouraged, “It’s a comely lodging near the university and includes the meals.”

“We’ll deliver it for the goodness of the deed not for the pay for it,” demurred McGillicuddy.

“No,” reiterated the well-spoken man.  “You will be saving me a great deal of inconvenience and I am obligated to pay for the room reserved whether I occupy or not.  There is parking for your wagon and stabling for your horses.  You will be quite comfortable.”  He smiled again in a most engaging manner.  “Don’t refuse me.  I truly have no other recourse at present and deeply need the letter delivered.”

“It’s not turning you down we’re at.  We’ll faithfully deliver your letter,” said McGillvery reaching for the large envelope in the young man’s hand.  “Tell us where to deliver and we’ll be about it just that quick.”

“It goes to the University Rector’s Office first thing Monday morning.”  He tipped a fashionable, felt hat; once more displayed the most charming of smiles, and said, “I thank you kindly in advance of the deed, Sirs.  May your journey be a pleasant one.  Tell the Club’s man that McAllistair sent you in his place.  He will make the room ready.”  The young man and his companion wheeled their horses and set in the opposite direction from Dublin at a distance-eating lope that soon left McGillvery and McGillicuddy sitting quite alone on the road holding a rather large, brown, sealed envelope in their hands.

“We’ve an inn for lodging and meals for a week,” said Gilly wonderingly. 

He handed the envelope to Cuddy and the brothers continued down their road.

“There’s verse saying, ‘God’s canal is full of water.’  We’ve been a bit short of his lubricating water, Gilly.  Seems somehow the dew of heavens has opened over us allowing us to get a small foothold on that which others take so for granted.”

“May He ever increase our store,” earnestly replied Gilly.  “We’ve a full stomach and finest of provisions for many a day.  We’ll not run short of the fine things in that box before we’re set at table to eat hot, served meals each day.  We’ve a comfortable bed in our tinker’s wagon, yet now we’ve the option of second bed at a reasonable rate the poorest of beggars could afford.  It seems our blessings are flowing one into the other.  We’ve a small surplus laid by in hard coin.  We no longer have the necessity of providing for the gray mare so that our supply is not being eaten by that which is superfluous.  It seems, Brother, our circumstances have changed considerably for the better.”

“I’m seein’ it,” agreed Cuddy happily.  “It’s as if the very stones are crying for our sustenance and every little thing is answering yes.  What a glorious feelin’ this is!”

“It’s a glorious thing all right.  Just as if the Lord is raining manna down on His beloved, free for the taking.”

“May it never cease,” earnestly spoke McGillicuddy.

“Aye to that,” agreed McGillvery fervently while chucking the reins over Belle and Shade and looking superstitiously over his shoulder.  “Truth to tell, Cuddy.  I’m feeling a bit nervous about such good fortune.”

“I know.  We’ve been running hard for so long, it seems sure to end at any minute with all the goodness taken away from us in one huge snatch.”

“Aye,” replied Gilly making the saint’s good sign.  “What a sad bunch of days we’ve been living when we’re expecting the bad instead of the good.” And according to an old habit, he added, “Let’s be hoping the letter we’re delivering is not an imprudent act for us to be taking.”

“We’ll not look for the bad,” assured Cuddy.  “All a man has is the moment and this here moment is a sweet one.  We’d best not be missing the goodness of it for the fear of an uncertain future.  We’ve been on the bottom of life’s wheel for a great long time and by the nature of a wheel, once it starts rolling the points on that wheel just naturally have to come to the top eventually.”

“May it stay at the top for as long as it stayed at the bottom,” prayed Gilly silently.

A rather minor bend in the road provided a wide angled resting place used by many a traveler on his way to the coast.  This evening it was occupied by several wagons overflowing with small children.

McGillvery surveyed the scene and asked, “Are ye wishin’ to stop here with all the rest or would ye be wishin’ to continue on a little further where it would be more peaceful?”

“We’ve had our share of lonely campfires, Gilly.  It would be quite fair to hear the small ones laughing and playing.  We wouldn’t be disturbing them too much if we parked on the far side there under the trees nearest the stream.  Do ye suppose there’s enough light to do a small bit of fishin’ now?”

Gilly looked dubiously at the waning day hours and said, “If not tonight, most surely in the morning.”

“There!” pointed Cuddy.  “Did ye see that fish jump?”

“Jumpin’ at bugs,” grumbled Gilly.  “If we get too close to that stream, we may be swattin’ night creatures all night.”

“Then,” reasoned Cuddy, “pull back a little from the edge of the stream.”

With Gilly’s urging, Belle and Shade made a neat turn into the campground, negotiated some ancient stumps, and stopped obediently under smallish trees located not far from the stream.  “A campfire ring already in place with a bit of wood and two sitting stones.  This is a welcome pleasure,” he noted while climbing from the wagon’s seat.

Gilly took care of the horses while Cuddy carefully pulled from the good lady’s box ample sup for four men.  He set stream water to boiling for their tea and took time to pull their mother’s harp from the wagon.  When the horses were well pastured, Gilly returned to the fire and sat beside his brother.

“Look at all the food,” he marveled while sniffing appreciatively at the tea ready for pouring.  “Would ye be likin’ a spot of jam on yer soda bread, Cuddy?” he asked in a most solicitous manner.

“Thank ye kindly,” nodded Cuddy.  “Would ye like a cup ’o tea now or would ye be likin’ some with the bit of apple tart we’ve set aside here?”

“I would like a bit now and a bit later with the tart, thank you,” said Gilly.

The boys ate, carefully enjoying every bite of the good cook’s preparations while taking pleasure in the children’s frolics in the other campsites.  “’Tis a passle of children.  I’ve rare seen such a bunch for so few adults, even among the Catholics.”

“Aye, their men must be fierce workers to be supporting such a lot of the little beggars.”  Cuddy paused in sipping his tea, “The little red-headed lad is quite a fast runner, isn’t he now?  ’E’s putting them to the ground all one by one.”

“Aye, but look at the little lassie with the brown curls.  She’s a tough one to find.  None of them yet have found her.  That’s showing a good mind to outwit the others so.”

“I’m seein’ her fall comin’ soon for the little lad is comin’ powerfully close to her hidin’ spot.”

“Oops!” laughed Gilly.  “There, she’s done!  She had better be a fast runner or she’s got the worst of the game.”

“Well, seems for all the brain skills it still takes the running skills to do well.  The little lad’s got her sure and now she has to play the worker while he plays the party.”  The boys watched the children playing their hide and search game until their mothers called and put them all to rest in their bedrolls.  Cuddy reached for the harp and said, “I’d a mind to play a bit before resting.”

“Not too long,” whispered Gilly.  “We’re not wantin’ to keep the little ones past their bedtimes.”

Cuddy began playing the Don of Longahen, a faintly melancholy air which drifted sleepily over the night’s warm breezes.  The women took seats beside the men watching their individual fires die to low embers. 

“Play the Shannon’s Lough for them, Cuddy,” urged Gilly.

Obediently, Cuddy began the tune that has carried through the ages tugging on heartstrings of the Irish and the non-Irish, bringing tears and many a strange emotion to the breast of man and woman.

“One more, please, and then we’d best be letting them sleep.”

Cuddy nodded and began the Kearney’s Ballad, a slow mournful piece that plays the full range of the heart both the upper parts and the lower parts as well.

“Thank you,” said Gilly.  “We’ve not had music for many a day, it seems.”

McGillicuddy began packing the harp into its case.  “Having a belly full of good sup makes a man feel a little like playing and listening to the tunes.  My fingers have grown a bit rusty after such a long absence.”

“That’s in your mind and not in reality.  I’m noticing the folks across the way were enjoying the music as much as you and I.”

Gilly retrieved their bedrolls from the wagon while Cuddy stowed the harp and retrieved their mother’s Book.  Gilly lay the full length on his bedroll while remarking, “In our dream we heard the Father say all Ireland was to welcome us with open arms.  It’s sure seeming we’ve been well welcomed this past day.”

“It’s a bit unnatural, seems to me,” remarked Cuddy.  “But,” he said while lookin’ apprehensively at the night sky, “not an unnaturalness we can’t easily get used to and not one we’re wishin’ to change.”

“Be careful of your words,” admonished Gilly.  “We’re fair friends of the good and if the good has bestowed an unnaturalness upon us, we’re acceptin’ both the natural circumstance and the unnatural circumstance that is given without complaining.”

“Then, to keep from that error, we’ll read from Mother’s Book.  There’s certain no error there and fillin’ our mouths with those words should well keep us from blame before the night angels passin’ over our heads.”

To ensure freedom from a spirit’s accusations, Cuddy immediately began reading from the Psalms and Gilly listened diligently.  The stream bubbled energetically on its way to the ocean and a small hill breeze rustled the tops of the camp’s few trees.  Somewhere near the wagon Belle and Shade could be heard chomping steadily at green grass.  An occasional creak from the wagons as someone turned in their sleep comforted the boys so they felt not so alone in the big, big world.  


Chapter 5

Clean Faces, Fresh Air 

McGillvery awoke to the smell of fresh sea air mixed with fresh trout frying and wood smoke.  He smiled and sighed contentedly.  “You’ve already had luck with the fishing this morning.”

“Aye,” replied McGillicuddy enthusiastically while carefully turning two very large trout in their biggest iron skillet. “I’d thought this stream would have long been fished out.  But the best of luck greeted me this morning.”

“Then I best be about packing our wagon while those finish cooking.”

“Belle and Shade ’ave wandered down to the south of the stream where the grass is a little more tender.”

“Even they’ve the good fortune then,” grinned McGillvery while retrieving two lead ropes from the wagon.  By the time he had rounded the horses, McGillicuddy had finished cooking the good trout and packed away their bedrolls for the continued journey to Dublin.  As they pulled from the campground several of the men and women waved in a most friendly manner, calling their thanks for the music from the evening before.  The brown haired lassie ran toward their wagon and handed the boys a small bag of pastries.

McGillvery peered inside the brown paper and whistled low.  “Ye haven’t been having these since Mum went away, Cuddy.  Look!  Filled with cheese and coated in sugar,” he said while pulling one out and handing it to Cuddy.  “Tell yer Mum thank you most proper,” he called down to the little lass.

“Not me Mum.  We be the orphans goin’ to Dublin’s orphanage.”

Gilly blushed red at his mistake and said, quickly, “Tell the caring woman thank you most kindly.  Would ye be wantin’ a bite, too, lassie?”

“Nay, the lady baked passles of them for all of us,” she smiled.

The child ran back to the wagons and Gilly looked at Cuddy.  “Were ye ever guessing the truth about this campground?  They all seemed so happy and not one of the lot of them with a Mother or a Father.”

“’Tis not so odd if ye’re thinking about it some.  A colt used to stony pasture is not knowin’ what ’e’s missing if ’e’s never seen deep grass.”

“Makes one proper thankful for his own blessings,” Gilly remarked.  “Wonder how they’re faring for food,” he wondered as he reached deeply into the sack of pastries.  “Mmmm,” he commented with a mouthful as large as a mowing horse, “they’re as good as Mum’s and fresh like, too.  The lady must have baked them just before we pulled into camp.  If they’re fed as well as this, they’ll grow strong and able, that’s a sure thing.” 

McGillicuddy looked toward the skyline and squinted at the morning sun.  “We’re not many kilometers from Dublin.  Do ye suppose we could be makin’ it there before Sabbath?”

“Perhaps.  Belle and Shade are not the young ones anymore but if we’re going as far as they’re willin’ we may make it past the pale.”

And, the plan was a good one that rolled their wagon into the edge of Dublin at evening time. 

Hailing an elderly woman walking with a small bundle along the main thoroughfare, Gilly asked, “Is there a place near here for camping the horses over Sabbath?”

“Aye,” she replied.  “Ye’re coming to All Hallows.  There’s fine trees and pasture there until the weekday.  It’s the buildings there above the trees and there’s a fine church there open to all Protestants.  Ye are the God-fearing lads a’coming to Dublin, aren’t ye?” she asked, narrowing her eyes slightly at the two strangers before her.

“Aye, that we be,” replied McGillicuddy confidently while Gilly reined Belle and Shade toward the stance of greenery.  He noted a small lane turning to the left just before reaching the larger buildings beyond the trees.  “That looks a peaceful place to be staying for the evening—a quiet lane where we may be resting until we’re properly delivering the letter to the university.”

Gilly nodded and turned the horses into the small lane, pulling the wagon well off the road into the trees.  The horses were watered this evening from the water barrels and tied to trees rather than hobbled. 

“Gilly, I’m thinking we need to be setting aside a little time to bathe and wash proper this evening.  We’re coming up in the world and it would be a fine thing to go to morrow’s church looking our best.”

“We’ve still possession of Father’s shaving mugs and tools,” replied Gilly helpfully, “and a smallish bottle of scent left from the men’s purchasing on the yesterday.  We’d be able to go to church with smooth faces and smelling quite proper.”

“Do ye have Mother’s clipping shears?  I could be trimming yer hair a bit and making ye look more a gentleman.”

“I’ll look for them now,” said Gilly, retiring to the wagon.  He soon returned triumphant with shears, shaving tools, and a small jar of olive oil for nourishing the skin.  “Let’s boil some of the water from the barrels this evening for a smart tinker’s bath.”

Cuddy nodded and retrieved the large copper tub his mother had always kept tied to the back of the wagon.  “I’ll set the teapot to bubbling and we’ll use the hot water from that to shave and I’ll trim your hair while we wait for the large tub to boil.”

Becoming more enthusiastic, Gilly added, “We could wash the best of the clothes we’ve got and hang them to dry this evening.”

“Gilly, we still have Father’s trunk,” reminded Cuddy.

“I’ll light the lantern and have a look while ye’re boiling the water,” grinned Gilly merrily.  “’Tis kind of like a party, isn’t it?” he called over his shoulder.

He soon returned with a red silk blanket packaging a bulky assortment of items.  The boys spread the blanket on the grass and carefully inspected the treasures within—a pair of dress boots and newer pair of work boots, two silk ties, a dress shirt and new work shirt, two pairs of woolen trousers and several finely knitted stockings of wool as well as two pair of black silk stockings and a small mirror. 

Cuddy held the boots to the lantern light.  “These are well-cut and lookin’ the right size.”

“Aye,” agreed Gilly, rummaging through the rest of the blanket.  “An’ here’s some blacking that could make them look right sharp.”

“Let’s trim our hair and bathe,” urged Cuddy while unbuttoning his shirt and shucking his boots.  Gilly carefully clipped reddish brown curls from Cuddy’s square head and Cuddy in turn clipped reddish brown curls from Gilly’s round head.  The teapot’s water was used to soften raggedy beards.  Before taking the first nip from the beard, Cuddy asked, “How would it be to go the gentlemen with neatly trimmed moustache and beard rather than smooth shaven?”

“I’ll trim yours first and you can look in the mirror to see.”  Gilly combed Cuddy’s beard and began carefully snipping and cutting, smoothing and shaping until quite satisfied with the effect.  “There,” he said, flourishing the mirror in front of Cuddy’s face. 

“My,” said Cuddy wonderingly.  “I look as well as the gentlemen officers who served in the army when I was younger.”

“Ye do have a fine cut about you,” admired Gilly.  “It didn’t hurt to go hungry for so long.  It’s given a keener look to your face and eye.”

“A wolf looks a little keen when ’e’s hungry, too,” observed Cuddy dryly while taking the cutting shears from Gilly, “but I’m not noticing it makes him a particularly popular fellow.  Are ye wanting the beard the same as mine?”

Gilly nodded and sat perfectly still while Cuddy began the trimming and snipping.  When he was done, Gilly whistled largely while looking in the mirror.  “Cuddy, I am extraordinarily handsome,” he said while turning his head this way and that.  “Why didn’t we take a little time every day to look so lovely these past several years?  While our mother was alive she saw to our proper bathing and smartness each day never allowing us to go to the doors without our boots well blacked.”

“I don’t know,” answered Cuddy.  “But it makes a great deal of difference for a fellow to have an amount of coin in his pocket—gives him a bit of confidence somehow.”

Gilly shook his head in disagreement, “A man should walk a certain way no matter how much gold he has in his pocket.”

“But,” reasoned Cuddy, “look at the sensibleness of it.  Would we be using the soap or the shaving cream or the lotion or the blade on the razor or using Father’s clothes if we knew we had no way to replace them when they are used, tattered, and of no use anymore?  We’d be hoarding them against a day more important than the everyday circumstances that may come along.  This evening we’re freely and joyfully using them because we know we’ve sacks of coin to replace them and we’re in Dublin, a place where they’re likely to be inexpensively re-purchased.  The circumstances are different and we can be acting and thinking differently for the changed circumstances.”

Gilly held the mirror in front of himself as far as his arm could reach to observe the extraordinary difference in their appearances.  “Perhaps our situation would have changed more quickly than they did if we would have put on the bold face first and then let the circumstances follow.”

“There may be a great truth in that, Gilly.  But, we’re putting on the bold face now, aren’t we?  In truth, we’ll still not look the well-placed gentlemen even with our dressing in the remains of Father’s finest.  There aren’t two sets of dress boots in the silk blanket,” he reminded his brother.

Gilly laughed outright, “Aye, but there are two pair of silk stockings and as long as I’m wearing a pair of those silk stockings under the shined work boots nothing else matters for I’ll feel a rich man knowin’ for certain there’s none in the church tomorrow who’ll have a pair of stockings finer than mine—not even the Lords in the balcony seats.”

“I was thinking on havin’ you wear the dress shoes and silk stockings, Gilly.”

“Nay,” he objected grandly.  “I’m content with the work boots and silk stockings.  I’m so handsome I’ll shine without the shoes. I would be proud to see you lookin’ as you did when you first went to war.  That look can only be accomplished with the lovely dress boots.”

Cuddy grinned at his brother’s frankness.  “No one will think you too handsome if you don’t bathe and rub yerself with the olive oil.  The water’s well boiled and the washing tub filled.  I’ll bathe after you.”

Around midnight the brothers were quite clean and bright looking.  Their everyday clothing had been washed and hung on bushes and trees to dry.  Their father’s boots and shoes had been shined and their old work boots had been thoroughly washed and sat on the wagons’ back stoop drying in the night air. 

“We’re smellin’ so fresh I’m hating to crawl into our bedding.”

“Monday first thing we’ll find a laundress to do all our bedding,” promised Gilly boldly crawling into the noticeably stale smelling bed sacks.  “Do ye think we could find some paint for our wagon and be painting it to look fine like when our father was alive?” he asked, quite caught in the whole spirit of renewing former habits of living.

McGillicuddy looked critically at the wagon.  “Even in the fire’s dim glow, it looks a bit shabby now, doesn’t it?  We didn’t even use the free tallow the young lad gave us to oil the sign so it wouldn’t squeak.  That’s the least we could be doing.  I’m not seeing it’s amiss to perk everything we’ve got.  We’ve a little surplus laid by.”

Gilly agreed and added, “First thing Monday, you deliver the letter and I’ll be about making a list of the things we need to put everything in tippy order.  We can be using the afternoon to purchase our items and be planning for finding the inn where we’re to stay for the week.”

“We’ve the young man’s lecture to be hearing on the Monday,” reminded Cuddy.  “You’re lining out a most busy day.  I’m not sure of accomplishing it all.”

“Well, we’ve a better chance if we’re getting some sleep now,” replied Gilly confidently as he picked up their mother’s Book for the final day’s reading.

The Book opened.  Gilly read silently and looked at Cuddy glowingly.  “It’s the same verse about ‘giving a listening ear to wisdom and directing our heart to intelligence’ and ‘If we hunt for it as we would for silver and search for it as we would for buried treasure, Then we shall understand the fear of Jehovah and find the knowledge of God because Jehovah gives wisdom and out of his mouth come knowledge and intelligence.’”

“We’re hearing it the second time for emphasis.  I’m remembering a verse in the Book that said when the good man Abraham understood that which he was to do, he immediately undertook action and it turned out well for him.”

“And, I’m remembering others who were told three times before they undertook action.  They were the more cautious type, Cuddy.  I’m not seeing we’re lacking.  We are moving forward as we should without being the slackers nor the disobedient type.”

 Cuddy yawned widely.  “Who would’ve ever known we’d ’ave been the university lads?  T’would have been a surprise to Mum.”  This thought was quite lost on his brother who had already begun a gentle snoring in the night.  Cuddy smiled and lay back to quickly join his brother in peaceful slumber.

In the morning the brothers watered their horses well, ate sparingly from the box, and walked the lane toward All Hallows where the elderly woman had directed them for Sabbath church.  The last bend in the road opened to a large area with many, many buildings, some of which were in sad repair.  In the middle of those buildings were fine carriages and a few horses tied in a large yard facing an ancient spired stone church.  The boys walked toward one of the near carriages and asked, “Are the services to begin quite soon?”

Retrieving an engraved gold watch from a richly brocaded vest pocket, a young man offered, “In about fifteen minutes.  Are you here for the new semester?”

“Aye,” answered McGillvery promptly.  “We’re needin’ to deliver a letter to the Rector’s Offices on the morrow.”

The lad nodded and pointed, “It’s the set of grand buildings at the end of the fairway.  The new building is the engineering building.  We’re the only one outside of mainland to have an engineering department.  We’re rather proud of it.  There—College of Physicians, Library, Printing House, Dining Hall, School of Divinity, Astronomy and Observatory—knowing those will get you through your first week.”

“Thank you,” grinned McGillvery and his smile was readily returned along with a cheerful, goodwill wave of the young man’s hand. 

“We’ve just enough time to take a brief stroll round the buildings before going in to sermon,” appealed McGillicuddy to McGillvery.

 “Wasn’t it the Law building that Sean Connor is to be lecturing in on the Monday morning?” asked McGillvery as they walked away from the young man’s carriage.

“Nay, the Parliamentary Hall,” replied Cuddy.

After a brisk walk around the main of the universities’ buildings, the boys slipped into the back seating of the church and listened to a lecture somewhat different than that which they heard in the country village churches. 

“No children,” whispered Cuddy looking around at the congregation.  “That’s an odd thing.”

“Few women,” whispered Gilly.  “The balconies are seating men and them with black robes like the dear minister himself.”

“Except their robes are well decorated,” noted Cuddy.  “Perhaps they’re Lords visiting from England and the velvet is signifying their status.”

“’An such odd looking hats.  I would be ’alf ashamed to wear such a thing in public, makes me feel much at ease with our own clothing.  We’re making a much more sensible showing it seems to me.”

“’Tis rather a boring sermon the young man is giving, no fire or enthusiasm showing even at the smallest corners,” said Gilly in an undertone.

“The finer gents seem quite intent on what he’s saying,” observed Cuddy.

“He speaks in a difficult manner to understand, Cuddy.”

“Aye, I’m not sure of the meaning of many of his words,” murmured Cuddy.

“It’s not the Catholic Latin.  Perhaps he’s trying to speak in the tongues.”

“Nay.  It’s the English sure enough, but not the English we’re familiar with.”

“I’m not hearing the word sinful or repentant or hellfire one time in all the speech,” whispered Gilly.

“Perhaps they’re not believing they’re sinful and in need of repentance,” spoke Cuddy in a low voice.

“Do ye suppose so?  Why that would be above the law, wouldn’t it?”

A man turned round and frowned fiercesomely at the boys, silencing them with his look alone.

They maintained their opinions to themselves and by the time the service was over had quite forgotten their impressions of the morning worship for the excitement they were feeling over the afternoon’s planned adventures.  They retrieved their horses from camp, rode across the River Liffey, down to the sea, back among the warehouses, and across all sections of the town.

“It’s a town of great wealth.”

“Of great proportions.”

“And great poverty.”

“As we’ve never seen in the country.”

“There’s homes for the poor.”

“An’ homes for the rich.”

“’Tis a town of great paradoxicalness.”

“’Tis a town of opportunity and disopportunity besides.”

“Kind of like the whole, wide world rolled into one little place.”

“With ships from near and far bringing the outside to the inside.”

“Do ye think there’s a place for us here?” asked Gilly finally.

“We’ve always been men of the open air and the open road.  It will be a great change,” admitted Cuddy.

Gilly hallooed a young fellow coming from a nearby pub.  “Are ye knowin’ the directions to the Maid’s Club?”

“It’s near the university.  I’m not knowin’ the exact street.”

Gilly waved his thanks and they set toward All Hallows criss-crossing several streets near the outskirts of the school.

Finally, Gilly pointed, “There.  Look!  On the stone wall—the brass plate is saying, ‘Maid’s Club.’”

The boys rode close to the high, iron-wrought gates. 

“It’s a right grand place,” observed Cuddy.

“The young fellow must be a man of means to live in such a place,” agreed Gilly.

A high stepping horse with young rider was nearing the gate.  “The gate,” the rider called.  “Open the gate.”

Gilly hurriedly dismounted and drew the gates forth for the rider to pass.  The rider ignored them and passed along the lane leading to the stables.

“I think he thought we were the gatekeepers,” said Gilly.

“Well, ’tis no wonder.  Did ye see the fine animal ’e was riding?  Belle and Shade have the rough look about them in comparison.  I’m not sure how we can ride them through these gates on the morrow and not be boldly chided for their sorry condition.”

 “It’s not just the look of our horses I’m beginning to worry over,” added Gilly while closing the gates.  “’Tis a fine place behind these gates.  We’re more used to places like the tinker’s wagon than such places as these.”

“In our dream, we played the grand gentlemen among Ireland’s finest.”

“Aye, but a dream and the reality are some different now.”

“We shouldn’t be borrowing worry before it is necessary to exercise it,” chided Cuddy.  “Our mum told us many the time that what a fine young fellow lacks in manners of the gentry may be compensated for by consistent exercise of courtesy and good humor.  Do ye remember?  She said there was such a thing as a styled gentleman who was taught the manners of a gentleman and then there was a natural gentleman who acted in courtesy in all circumstances.  She always said the value was in the natural gentleman, for no set of circumstances could break his natural courtesy while the styled gentleman could be broken during difficult times.”

“Aye, I’m remembering many a long year ago seeing a young master of Lord Danby’s throwing a right grand fit and the Lord looking at Mum and saying she had done well by her laddies and he was wishing at the moment he could trade Mum his laddie for us.”

“That quite put the smile on Mum’s face.”

“Aye, it did.  But the lesson has always stayed by me that a smile and willing disposition will make one welcome in the finest of circles.”

Cuddy observed the large stables in the rear.  “Belle and Shade will have the accommodations of the King’s own horses.  They’ll not want to be leavin’ at the end of the week, that’s sure.”

“Just to ensure our reception, though, I’m for leaving the wagon at its place in the woody lane and trimming Belle and Shade a bit.”

“Aye, I’m thinking we’d best get some of the bleaching agent for their tails and manes and rub them down with straw till they shine.  You can trim their manes right smart like the carriage horses of Earl Donogough and I’ll thin their tails and braid them tight.  We’ll put the new shoes on them tonight so they’ll not be ashamed to be walking in among the finer horses.”

“There’s no finer nor smarter in Ireland than these two,” protested Cuddy in loyal defense.

“But we’re knowin’ brains don’t always shine out first in dealin’ with people.  People see the outside first and then look a little deeper into the inside if they’ve been pleased with what the eyes behold.  We don’t want people misjudging such fine stock as this because of their ill-grooming.”

“Let’s get busy then,” urged Cuddy.  “The day is moving smartly along.”

After a cold supper, Cuddy pulled the horses’ well worn shoes, took the rasp to Belle’s hooves nicely rounding and shaping them while Gilly began thinning Shade’s tail to a carriage horse styling which could be carefully braided and tied with the thinned hair after a thorough bleaching.  While Gilly rasped Shade’s hooves Cuddy began trimming Belle’s mane and forelock into a Roman horse pattern of smart stiffness.

“It’s a warm evening, but not warm enough for me wishing to get them wet.  Would be best if they were bathed and bleached in the warm morning’s sun.”

“If you could be about delivering the letter to the Rector in the morning, I could be about their cleaning,” suggested Gilly.


Chapter 6

A Lord’s Traditions

In the morning Cuddy dressed in the finest of all their clothing for the delivering of McAllistair’s letter.  Later he returned and the boys redistributed the clothing so they made a decent look for listening to Connor’s lecture, but although searching the Parliamentary Hall diligently, they were unable to locate the lecture hall where Connor was to deliver his speech.  So, they retired to the village to complete their errands.  Soon they were back at their wagon with more bleach, oil, hoof blacking, new clothing, and paint for their wagon.  The afternoon was spent in the final dressing of Belle and Shade and then in the dressing of themselves for their entrance to Maid’s Club. 

“The horses look grand, don’t they?” noted Gilly while mounting Belle.

“As pretty as parade horses.”

“We look the young fellows, too.”

“Then, I’m supposin’ we’re quite ready for our week in the finer accommodations.”

A short time later, the boys were walking into Maid’s Club toward the main desk.  “We’ve been invited to McAllistair’s room,” said McGillicuddy.

“Room 236,” said the desk clerk without looking from his writing.  “The room comes with two meals per day in the club restaurant.  If you both are wishing to eat, then it’s one meal per day.  There’s a lift if you do not wish to use the stairs.  Croquet on the back lawn everyday at 2 PM.  The weekly activities list is at the end of the counter.  One key or two?”

“Two,” replied Cuddy reaching for the small packet of keys which had been pushed toward him.

The boys stretched their necks a bit to see inside the club’s dining room as they passed.  It was filled with young men about the age of McAllistair.  All seemed quite jovial in spirits.  McAllistair’s room, located in the middle hall of the second floor, overlooked the croquet lawn and was well situated with a furnished balcony for sitting out in finer weather.  The room itself contained a fireplace, oak study desk, several overstuffed chairs, a small bathing tub, a hand basin, a large canopy bed, two nightstands, several lamps, several lounge chairs, and a leather chaise.  The large, commodious closet provoked instant comment.

“Cuddy!  Have you ever seen anything so fine?  The closet contains bureaus full of the brightly colored woolen sweaters from the northern sheep.  An’ look at the pants to match the colors!” ejaculated Gilly enthusiastically.

“It seems a permanent apartment,” wondered Cuddy aloud.  “The closets and drawers are quite full of shoes, boots, pants, shirts, and kerchiefs.  The lad even has a small chest of eating utensils and another chest full of sporting equipment.  Seems he likes to ride,” he noted while opening a small door near the far window.  “He’s keeping two saddles, a blanket, and bridles here.”

“And a whole library of books behind these drawers.”

“Is this the young fellow’s home then?  A club?  Has he no Father or Mother or friends so that he must stay at a club?”

“I’m not knowin’ exactly, but I would suggest we go and settle Belle and Shade and then look to our dining, Cuddy.”

The stable manager looked long at Gilly and Cuddy before finally taking the leads of Belle and Shade.  “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen tinker’s horses in these stables,” he said.  “Easy keepers, these.  Don’t need much to stay healthy and gentle tempered.”

Gilly and Cuddy noted the long line of horses sticking their well-groomed necks over stable doors in idle curiosity at the newcomers.  “You’ve a great many beauties here,” remarked Gilly.

The man frowned slightly.  “Beautiful, but temperamental and not used to a solid day’s work—kind of like their owners.  Watch that one.  He’ll bite you right proper,” he warned Cuddy of a horse reaching an extra-long neck over its stable door.

Cuddy moved hastily to center aisle.

“If they don’t work, what do they do?”

“Mostly stay in their stalls all day and sometimes take the young masters for a ride or a quick game of balls and sticks.  We’ve a young lad who walks them to pasture every day for their exercise.”

“The names above the stalls are the names of the horse?”

“No, the names are the names of the owners.”

“McAllistair,” read McGillvery from a near stall.  “We’re staying in McAllistair’s room for the week.”

“Friends?”

“Nay, the room goes for a favor.”

“Little times he spends in those rooms.  You’ll be able to spend the whole year there by my reckoning.  His father pays a pretty bit of coin to lodge him while he attends university, but he’s achieved a reputation for more interest in catching the lassies than putting his head to deep studying.  It’s a shame now for the family has had a good name until now.”

Gilly ignored the small piece of gossip.  “Are quite a few of the rooms let to students?” he asked idly.

The man looked in surprise at the boys.  “The Club is for the Lords’ and Barons’ sons.  Didn’t you know that?”

“Nay,” blushed Gilly.

“It’s the place for all the best to stay while at university.  Some of the rooms have been let for three and four generations to the same family.  It’s why the horse stalls bear the family names.”

Gilly and Cuddy were quiet while the man opened a large stable door on the end.  “It’s the birthing stall and large enough for the two of them.  They’ll be quite happy here and I’ll let them out to pasture every morning.  There’s a stream running at the far side under the trees where they’ll have water during the day.”

“Thank you,” said Cuddy and reached into his pocket for a coin.

The man squinted at Cuddy and said, “I’m not thinking you are a man normally given to tipping for services.  The young nobles don’t do it, so why should you?  Besides,” he returned, “the rooms at the Club come with the stabling.  Always have and always will.  They’ll get,” he nodded at Belle and Shade, “the finest care as if they were thoroughbred racers.  I’m much preferring them to the others for their gentle disposition.  It will be a pleasure to work with an animal that has genuine affection for man.”

Gilly and Cuddy nodded their thanks and left for the club with easy hearts.  As they were entering the front door, the lure of the steady laughter and general aura of camaraderie from the club’s dining room caused them to pause before the door’s potted palms.  A waiter approached and asked to seat them.

Noting the clothing and deportment of most of the young men, Cuddy quietly and modestly cleared his throat.  “Could we be served in our room this evening?”

“Certainly.”

The boys ordered two thick beef steaks and potatoes baked in cheese and sour cream along with a fine pudding of carrots and green vegetable.  At the recommendation of the waiter they also ordered the house dessert, a tropical fruit pastry lined with English cheese and brushed with a whipped sugar.

“And the room number?”

“Room 236, McAllistair’s room.”

After seeing the room’s number duly noted on the order, the boys retired to await their meal, soaking in the warmth from the fire laid in the fireplace while appreciating the pulled draperies’ insulation against night air.  Lamps had already been lit; bed covers neatly pulled.  The food came on a wheeled oak cart—a most glorious meal served on silver plate neatly placed on Irish linen monogrammed white on white with the flourishing initials—MC.  McGillvery and McGillicuddy noted each detail of the table settings, the napkins, the arrangement of flowers, the candles, the stemmed glasses awaiting the pouring of the chilled cider sitting in pewter pitchers set in ice, the small sprigs of parsley setting alongside beefsteaks so thick they resembled roast beef rather than steak. 

“I’m feeling like a beggar seeing his first real bag of coin,” said McGillicuddy.

Talking around an appreciatively large mouthful of steak, McGillvery agreed, “I’m feelin’ the same as ye’re saying and not knowing the why of it.  I’m quite certain we were living better than this in our grand dream.”

“Perhaps it seems new because we’re forgetting bits and pieces of our adventure.  I remember the main of the story, but the details are quite leaving.”

“There’s something else different, too.  In our present story we’re retiring at night knowing these luxuries are for a week and then we’re returning to an unpainted tinker’s wagon in the woods.”

“Aye, that’s some different to knowing there’s a townhouse filled with the luxuries of a thousand ships.”

“It puts shy in a man when he’s shy of surplus, Cuddy,” granted Gilly.  “Well, then, since we’re forgetting our story, I’m supposing we need to write it down permanently while we still have some of our facts at hand.  Besides, if our present story ends quite well, it’s a lesson for our children, our grandchildren, and others to lead their lives by so they can find a little better result for their efforts than most after a lifetime of wishin’ and hopin’.”

“We’ll start writing it tonight,” promised Cuddy.  “Every evening we’ll devote a bit of time to writing down the complete story.” 

Cuddy pushed himself away from the table.  “I’m a fine eater,” he sighed, “but this meal has put me under for its luxurious plenty.”

Doing the same, Gilly agreed and placed the domed silver lids over the leftover food.  “We’ll save it for breakfast since there’s only one meal to be served each day between the both of us.”  He looked round the room a bit sadly.  “How I’m wishin’ we could live no lower than this for the rest of our lives.  It is meant for man to be comfortable and well-kept, Cuddy.”

McGillicuddy pulled their mother’s Book from his pack.  “I remember once hearing one of the ministers lecturing that the Father is friendly to man and has every intention of helping him to live well.  Do you remember the promise to the Wandering people?  It was a grand one.”  He turned to the front of the book and read a small paraphrasing of the words, “‘If you obey your God, taking care to live up to all his commandments…your God will set you high over all the nations on earth…blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed when you go out…the blessing will accompany you…in all your undertakings…you shall lend to many nations and not borrow…He will make you head and never tail…you will constantly be up and never down….’”

“May that always be our lot in life, Cuddy,” urged Gilly.  “May we always be up and never down.  May we never experience the Dread again.  May the Blessing accompany us wherever we go.”

“Amen,” agreed Cuddy.

Gilly stood and rummaged through the desk drawer for a bit for pen and paper.  “We’d best be starting the writing of our story.  Another day and that much more will be forgotten.”

“You begin with the telling of the story and I’ll begin with the writing,” directed Cuddy.

Gilly sat down beside Cuddy and they began sharing their recollections of their adventure.  By the midnight hour, nearly three pages of their story had been permanently set to paper.

The next morning saw the completion of the evening’s meal for breakfast, Belle and Shade retrieved from the stables, and the two boys heading for the woods to begin the careful painting and decorating of their wagon.  McGillvery argued with McGillicuddy about the complimentary colors of the wagon’s sign while he carefully applied tallow to its hinges.  McGillicuddy argued just as admirably that genteel conservativeness is always the ideal attitude to have whether in business or in life and McGillvery retired his argument as he had done every since it had been his duty to paint the wagon’s sign.  He dutifully began preparing the blue and green colors for the sign’s background and lettering. 

“We’re needin’ to replace a bit of the step on the back of the wagon.  It’s near worn clear through.”

“Aye, I noticed that some time ago.  An’ did ye check the brake?  We’re needing to oil the hardwood and smooth it down near the bottom again.”

At the end of a long, tedious day, the brothers took special care for personal grooming that involved removal of paint and grime from hands, face, and hair.  They returned late to Maid’s Club, ordered the same meal as the evening before, retired to their room, and, after supping in a most luxurious manner, resumed the writing of their story.

McGillicuddy was endeavoring to find the passages in their mother’s Book which had led them to begin their adventure, when a key turned in their room’s hall door.

The door flung open revealing a tall, sophisticated, elderly man standing in a light summer suit and overcoat.  He quietly surveyed the room.  The left-over supper was neatly covered with silver domed lids.  Both boys were sitting at the study desk—Gilly with paper and pen in hand and Cuddy with his mother’s large Book open on his knees, a finger held down on a verse for which he had been looking.

“And, who may you be?” the gentleman asked.

“We are McAllistair’s guests for the week,” replied McGillicuddy respectfully.

“Are you aware of the whereabouts of McAllistair?”

“No,” answered McGillicuddy.  “He asked us to deliver a letter to the Rector this past Monday and told us we were welcome to stay the week in his room until we got settled properly.”

“Ahhh…the letter,” ruefully stated the man.  “The fateful letter.  Did you know what you were delivering?”

“No, it was sealed with wax and we took no liberties with its privacy.”

“The delivery of that letter was the end of my son’s life.”

Gilly and Cuddy started from their easy postures at the desk, simultaneously standing, inquiring anxiously, “Is the lad all right?”

“He will never be all right again,” gloomily predicted the man.

“Did he have an accident?”

“He had an accident of immense proportions.”

“We are so sorry,” offered McGillicuddy.  “We can vacate the room this evening if you wish.”

The man looked around regretfully.  “It has been a McAllistair’s for generations.  I spent enough days of my youth here in these quarters doing just as you two lads are doing this evening—just as my son should be doing this evening.”  The man surveyed the room again.  “Well, there is no sense despising what is.  My son has no desire for study and has chosen a preference for French women and brandy.  Can you tell me, dear sirs, how French women and brandy will produce another McAllistair to sit in these quarters and wrestle with university exams just as I and all my fathers before me have done?”  He looked intently at McGillvery and McGillicuddy’s faces and said, “I have no answer for it.  I expect none from you.  Well, then, what shall we do? An empty room.  An honorable tradition broken and not likely to be mended.  Two lads before me with honorable faces doing that which my son should be doing.  Did you say you are not settled for the semester yet?”

“No, Sir,” said McGillicuddy.

The man narrowed his eyes and looked at Cuddy carefully.  “Military man, eh?”

Cuddy stood straighter and taller.  “Aye.”

“The second or the third?”

“The second, Sir.”

“A fine command—the fighting Irish.  Never lost a battle.”

The man slapped his leather gloves on his hand as if deciding something.  He finally said firmly, “Before God, I do not know how to right the wrong my son is committing.  However, the room is rented for the year and they’ll not refund my money.  It may as well be occupied by those more worthy than my own blood.  If you are in need of a place to stay and study for the year, it is yours.  I will send my man round to collect McAllistair’s personal belongings on the morrow.  And,” as he turned to go, “if you’ve not paid your semester tuition yet at the university, I’ll leave a note at the desk for the Rector to credit your account with the balance of McAllistair’s tuition monies until I can bring him home and talk some sense into his undisciplined head.  An entire year’s of valuable learning lost,” the man shook his head remorsefully as he carefully shut the door.  Then opening it again, he stuck his head through and said, “Ally is keeping two thoroughbred racers in the stable.  In return for your room, they’ll need to be exercised every day.  The stableman is complaining of their tempers.  A good military man like yourself,” he said nodding to McGillicuddy, “shouldn’t have any trouble at all managing them.”

The door shut firmly behind the man and McGillvery and McGillicuddy were left in stunned silence.


 

Chapter 7

Mixing Two Worlds

It was an astonished McGillvery who broke the stillness.  “A way has been made and no smallish way, neither.”

“From heaven itself, it seems, we’ve been furnished a means to sit with the best of the land and study.”

“Aiiii,” agreed Gilly.  “It’s almost fear-inspiring the way that happened.  Brother,” he said, “I’m not one to jinx things by the words spoken from our mouths, but my heart is quivering at the thought of mixing with the young gents we’ve seen in this place.  They are far above our station in life.”

McGillvery took their mother’s Book from Cuddy’s lap, opened it, and pointed.

McGillicuddy leaned toward the page and read, “‘Treasuries of wisdom and knowledge will get you through your times.’”  He looked at Gilly and said, “Well, then, we do not have a choice in this matter if we are to follow our Lord’s direction.”

“It has occurred to me that our wagon is parked in the woods,” added Gilly.  “That is somehow symbolic that the choice has already been made, if not by us, by a higher power, isn’t it?  When, from our wee infancy, have we ever been parted from our wagon?”

“Never.  We were born in our wagon.”

“I think one door has closed and another has opened.  We must find the courage to step forward into a new way, different from our father’s and his father’s before him.”

McGillicuddy looked at the Book open on Gilly’s lap.  “We wouldn’t ever know what to do if it were not for the Book.  Truth to tell, Gilly, this is a more frightening undertaking than facing the Barons and Lords on a battlefield.” 

“Two heads are better than one.  It may be that accumulating knowledge is like any other skill.  It can be acquired through practice and diligent effort.”

“Aye, that’s true,” said McGillicuddy with a little more brightness.  “And how many of the others were directed at the Father’s own hand to go to university?  Most will be there because of tradition and their father’s direction.”

“If we’re humble and follow our Father’s direction, we should do passably well I’m thinkin’.”

“Aye,” agreed Cuddy while beginning to lay his new suit of clothes alongside Gilly’s for a thorough brushing.

In the morning Gilly and Cuddy presented themselves at the Rector’s door clean and smart in their best suit of clothes.  They stood waiting patiently until a smallish man made his appearance with a key to open the facility.  He frowned narrowly through wire-rimmed spectacles and said, “Do you have an appointment?”

“No,” replied McGillicuddy.  “We’re here at the request of Lord McAllistair and the transfer of tuition monies.”

“I know nothing of such a matter.”

“The Lord spoke with us last evening and said he would leave a letter for the Rector.”

“It’s much too early today to have the letter in hand.  Come back tomorrow or the next day.”

“But,” objected McGillicuddy, “classes have begun and the Lord promised we should have the tuition funds today.”

The man peered through his spectacles at McGillicuddy.  “Have you applied to the university?  Have you been accepted?  Do you have recommendations?  Have you sat for the examinations?”

The brothers shook their heads.

“And you are wishing an education, gentlemen?”

“Aye, that we be.”

Looking disdainfully at the brothers, the smallish man said, “Without recommendation, you’ll not attend this university.”

McGillicuddy said slowly, “In truth, we do have recommendation from our Lord and ourselves.”

The little man sniffed disdainfully.  “You’ve passed the examinations?”

“We’ve passed a great many examinations and trials examining our good character.”

“You have a sponsor?”

The boys paused a bit and brightened considerably, “We have the Lord.”

The bit of a man said dryly, “Wealthy men may go to university.  Poor men may not.  I can see what you are.  You are not wealthy nor are you well-schooled.”

Carefully, McGillicuddy said, “We’re knowing a few poor lads who are attending this university.”

“Not without a proper sponsor.”

“Then ye’re telling us that the university education is tied into a tight knot just for the few’s benefit.”

The little man lowered his eyes deprecatingly and smiled smugly.

“That is hardly a Godly way of doing things,” objected Gilly.

“Ahhh, but it is the nature of things,” spoke the man with just a trace of sarcasm.

“It’s the nature of things for eagles to rip and tear their prey, but that gives no excuse for men to be treating each other in the same fashion,” returned Cuddy sternly.

“The university isn’t the place for prey to find safety from the eagles among us,” retorted the man archly.  “If you will excuse me, I’ve a dear schedule for this day.”

The brothers watched the little man disappear behind a varnished and cracked, wooden door. 

“A few obstacles in our way,” noted Gilly.

“They can be numbered on a few fingers,” confidently spoke Cuddy. “Apply, have recommendations, be accepted, pass examinations, have a sponsor, and have the funds.”

“Have the funds of the wealthy, you mean,” retorted Gilly.

“For one year, we’ve been given the funds of the wealthy,” reminded Cuddy.  “Look, Gilly, we know we’re supposed to attend the university.  We’ve been given enough indication that only a fool would think otherwise.  I’ll go find the wee man again and talk to him a bit.”

McGillicuddy found the man shuffling papers at the side of a large mahogany desk.  “Excuse me,” he half apologized, “did we understand correctly that we needed to accomplish these things before entering the university?” and he properly named the several requirements.

“That is entirely correct,” agreed the little man.

Meekly, Cuddy replied, “Then, we’ll do all those things today if you can tell us where to get them done.”

“They can’t be done in a day!” objected the man.  “It takes months to process an application to the university and two applications at once—you will not be attending this semester that I can promise you.”

The man turned away and passed through an interior door leaving McGillicuddy standing alone by the rather formidable leather covered desk.

“What shall we do?” asked McGillvery who had been observing from the hall.  “Perhaps we read the choice we were to make wrongly.”

“Nay,” replied McGillicuddy.  “Not wrongly.  This is a paperwork block.  I well recognize it.  But there are those who can take care of paperwork blocks.  We just need to get past all the sergeants to the person who can do that for us and,” he looked severely at McGillvery, “we need to agree with our Father that Ireland is to bless us and we are to succeed in our undertakings.”

McGillvery grew a bit red of face and lowered his head, “I know.  I was a bit weak with the words.”

“It is important that we speak aright,” admonished McGillicuddy. “We’re at war.  It’s not a war of flesh and blood, but a more difficult one—one of the spirit.  Who could ever master his own spirit?  But, the mastering of that begins with the tongue and the words we speak.  There’s never a soldier who dares allow himself to speak or to intimate in any way that he will lose the battle or that he is headed wrong when facing the enemy.  We’re poor soldiers fighting to accumulate a portion of knowledge and wisdom.  It will be a strong battle to overcome that which we lack.”

At that moment, a voice behind them hailed, “Hallo!”

The boys turned and saw the young man from Earl Donogough’s estate.  “Sean!  Sean Connor!” they beamed, happy to see him again.

“You didn’t come to lecture Monday,” he gently reproved while smiling.

“Nay, we endeavored to come,” both boys protested at once.  “We could not find the room where you were lecturing,” they apologized.

 “They moved the lecture to the auditorium at the last moment,” he furnished.  “It happens all the time.  A student becomes quite adept, once he is familiar with the escapades of administrative forces, to side-step such inconveniences and still finish the business he is at. So,” he said motioning to the Rector’s Office, “you are going to university after all?”

“We were going to start today, but there seems to be a problem with admission paperwork, placement exams, and recommendations.”

“That’s not good.”

“Aye.”

“You need to see the Rector.”

“”Tis a little hard to get past his man.”

“Jenkins?  Don’t mind him.  The Rector walks these steps every morning at precisely 6:05.  If you stand here, you’ll be able to talk to him directly.  In fact,” he said, turning around, “here he comes now.”

“Good morning, Connor,” said a thick-set man with large, ruddy jowls.

“Good morning, Sir,” replied Connor while nudging McGillicuddy in the ribs to speak.  “Speak,” he whispered.  “Now is the golden time, man.”

“Sir,” said McGillicuddy stepping quickly forward, “we are here at the advice of Lord McAllistair and the transfer of tuition funds.”

The Rector was in a hurry.  “Yes, yes.  I’ve a great deal to do today, but we shall finish this business first.  McAllistair’s man delivered a letter to my home this morning early and I am already quite familiar with the situation from the letter that I believe you,” and he pointed to McGillicuddy, “delivered on Monday.  Come in.  We may as well make this the first order of business for the day.”

Connor smiled widely at the boys as they moved on into the building behind the Rector.  “See you in class,” he called.

“There now,” said the Rector over his shoulder.  “It seems McAllistair is wishing to enroll you as his protégées in the place of his son for this year—at least that is what I am gathering from his letter.  Classes began Monday and you are already late for enrollment.  Therefore, the most expeditious thing to do, in order to comply with the Lord’s wishes, is to enroll you in the only two classes which still have vacancies—Latin and Political Philosophy.  Have you completed these required studies yet?  No?  Did you say you have been attending the University of Glasgow?” he nervously shuffled through the papers on his desk.  “Well, I’m sure I saw that somewhere in the documents.  I’ll sign the papers now.  These classes begin at, ah, let me see, Latin—at 7:00 and Philosophy at 9:00.  You will need to have the items of record sent from your previous university,” he said, while reaching for two papers.  “Do you know where the Latin hall and Philosophy buildings are located?  Of course, McAllistair’s tuition is for one person, full-time study.  I understand the Lord is wishing to divide the tuition between the two of you.  You realize there are only enough funds for each of you to attend half-time this year.”

The boys mutely nodded without endeavoring to interrupt the good flow that was coming from the Rector’s mouth.  Within minutes, he handed the boys their admission papers while muttering, “This is such a busy day.” He began another rummaging through papers on his desk, looked up suddenly and seeing McGillvery and McGillicuddy still standing in his office, ordered briskly, “Go.  You now belong to Ireland’s best and,” he added, “to our way of thinking, the finest educational institution in three countries.”

McGillvery and McGillicuddy hurriedly left the office before anyone could think about questions that may reverse their good fortune.

“I’m wondering how he felt we were students of Glasgow and what did he mean that our items of record needed to be sent here?”

“I’m not knowin’, but we’re here now and we need to show ourselves worthy of the new position we’ve been given by the hand of our Father.”

“There’s the Language Building,” interrupted Cuddy, pointing and at precisely 7:00 AM, McGillvery and McGillicuddy found themselves sitting in a large lecture hall listening to ‘Amo, Amas, Amat….’ 

They intoned the words with the rest of the young men.  At 9:00 AM, they were sitting in a lecture hall at the Philosophy building and listening to a lecture on ethics and its many influences on societal values.

After a full morning of lecture, the boys headed toward Maid’s Club talking about the classes they had just attended. 

“Cuddy,” said Gilly quietly.  “I’m not understanding why we are learning to speak a language that is dead.  Why aren’t we learning a language by which we can talk to people who are alive?”

“I’m not knowing, Gilly,” replied Cuddy with a small frown.  “I was wondering the same about the discussion on ethics.  We’ve the Book to tell us everything good and true about all things and yet the professor seemed quite caught on the whole subject from another angle entirely.”

“Aye, he was quite zealous about speaking his ideas, wasn’t he?  Isn’t it amazing that one can earn a living by teaching languages no one else speaks and by giving daily lectures about things which every well taught babe in arms is acquainted with from infancy?  This is a very odd place, Cuddy.  It has little to do with the birthing of a healthy calf or telling the age of a traded horse or determining the weight of fabric that is to be purchased.  Why is it the Lords would send their children to learn such things?”

Cuddy struggled for an answer, “I’m not understanding how this relates to getting a cart on the road after a wheel is broken or selling a wife three bobs of thread instead of two,” and finally said rather lamely, “Perhaps it is the only thing the Lords’ families have to talk about when visiting about amongst themselves.”

“Seems rather dull conversation, doesn’t it?”

“Perhaps the Lords and Barons are not truly interesting people.”

“Then does wealth and position go hand in hand with boring and dull?”

Cuddy laughed and then soberly replied, “Well, Brother, if that is what it will take, we’d best become the most dull and most boring of them all.”

“Is this the wisdom and knowledge our Father is wishing us to obtain?”

asked Gilly doubtfully.

 “Perhaps it is somehow related to becoming a gentleman, Gilly,” Cuddy offered.

“I can see the gentleman ought to be a man of fine manners able to

play the musical instrument, read the books in a foreign language, converse with the priest in his own Latin;  and yet, how is that to make the money?  One could be having the finest of manners and starving to death at the same time, Brother.  Nay, I’m thinking this university business is quite backward in their approach to raising a man from poverty.”

“But, in truth,” said Cuddy thoughtfully, “they aren’t raising the young men who attend these halls from poverty, are they?  I mean, the young men from Maid’s Club are hardly poor.”

“Then what are we doing here, Cuddy?” asked Gilly in astonishment.  “We’re needin’ to raise ourselves from poverty conditions.  Hobnobbing with the rich isn’t going to get us there.  They are not going to share what they have with fellows like us.  When they want to play games, we’ll not be able to play for the expense of it.  We’ll be quite alone and left out of all things and will have spent our valuable time learning such things as the dead languages.”

Cuddy was as puzzled as Gilly.  It seemed they were being led in a most circuitous route toward prosperity.

Gilly continued, “Even the muscled men in the farm fields will be better off at the end of the year than we.  They will have their wages.  What will we have in a year?  We will have grown accustomed to living in the fine quarters and riding the fine horses and sitting and listening to lectures as if we were the privileged of the land and then we’ll be thrown out in the cold with no earnings in our pockets and the wagon a year rotting in the woods.  We’ll have spent the little coin we earned from the sale of all our goods and have nothing with which to replenish our cart.  The future looks bleak, Cuddy.”

“There’s likely much we’re not knowin’, Gilly,” suggested Cuddy.  “Perhaps in learning the Latin there’s a value that transmutes itself into the gold at a later time.”

“Dead languages turning into gold?” snorted Gilly in disgust.  “Have ye lost yer mind?”

“Well, now, we’ve not seen the house the professor of Latin language is living in.  What would you say if you found he lived in a grand house behind a great wall?  Then, I’ll warrant ye’d be thinking learning the language is of value.”

“Then, let’s go see right now.  We’ll ask where he lives and make our decision there,” asserted Gilly.

Feeling a bit unsettled about the whole of the conversation, but realizing this question must be most properly addressed, Cuddy turned to see if any students were walking the same way as they.  He recognized a young man he had seen in church several days before, hailed him, and asked, “Could ye be tellin’ us where the kind professor of Latin is livin’?”

“Nearly all the professors live at the Rectory House on the other side of campus.”

“Will it be difficult to find now?”

“No, it is not complicated.  See the stand of trees there?”  The young man had turned and pointed behind himself.  “The three large chimneys…that building belongs to the professors.”

“It’s seemin’ a grand building,” observed Cuddy.

“Well, the individual rooms are small and the professors do not have a great deal of living space.  Many of them share rooms with other professors.  But,” the young lad shrugged, “all and all, for a professor, it’s not too bad going.  Many of the students certainly have worse.”

The lad passed on and Gilly raised his eyebrows significantly in McGillicuddy’s direction and said pointedly, “We’d best have a walkover and see how they actually live.”

The Rectory House was a grand building with many tall, leaded windows framed in hard-fired brick.  McGillvery and McGillicuddy walked the front steps through oak double-doors into a neat parlor furnished with several desks and chairs, a small fireplace, potted plants, and a worn oriental rug over hardwood floors. 

An elderly gentlemen with broom in hand came from the backrooms and asked, “Are you looking for someone in particular?”

“Yes, we’re looking for the Latin professor.”

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No.”

“Everyone makes appointments to see the professors,” he said.  “They are quite busy and do not allow otherwise.”

“Well, now,” said McGillicuddy hastily, “actually we have but a small question to ask.  Would it be possible to write it on a bit of paper and slip it under his door without the bothering of him?”

“If you were one of the younger lads asking, I would say no without hesitation.  But I can see you’re of age and sense.” He nodded and pointed, “He occupies the tenth door on the right in the north wing.  He usually takes lunch this time of day and is most likely out.”

The boys nodded their heads in thanks and proceeded to the right north wing.  Most of the doors stood closed, but a few were open sometimes revealing men of varying ages studying at desks underneath light from the lead glass windows.  Cuddy and Gilly carefully noted the sparse furnishings in most of the quarters.  The tenth door was closed.  Cuddy wrote a brief note on a piece of paper concerning the best books to supplement the Latin course and the two boys left the way they came.

“Comfortable,” remarked Cuddy.  “Much more so than military quarters.”

“”Tis not a tent,” agreed Gilly.  “But also not a great deal larger than our wagon and remember the young lad said some of the rooms were shared.”

“It’s a great riddle to me, Brother,” said Cuddy.  “Perhaps they’re like the monks at the old monasteries.  Perhaps they’ve a vow of poverty.”

“Or perhaps the prospering is not their primary concern, Cuddy.  Perhaps they have found something of far more interest than the prospering.”

“Seems nothing of much worthwhile can be accomplished without a prospering, Gilly.”

“Perhaps they donate all their worldly resources to this fine institution.”

“Perhaps.  Well, we’ve only been here a day and not knowing the ways of university, it would behoove us to learn more of the customs of this place before thinking we’ve already found reason for leaving it. And besides,” he continued, “the thought just came to me that the scripture did not say to be seeking the prospering.  It said to be seeking the wisdom and the knowledge.”

“Aye,” returned Gilly with a startled look in his eyes.  “That’s the word of it and here we are counting the reward before we’ve followed the directions.”

“Looking at the way the professors are living makes one think small about the reward,” noted Cuddy directedly.

The boys began walking toward Maid’s Club discussing the events of the morning.

“The sun hasn’t even reached midday and we’re done with our work,” observed Cuddy.

“We’ve need to purchase our supplies and then we’ve the entire day free.  A student’s life is a very good life,” agreed Gilly.  “I’m thinkin’ two tinkers could become quite happily fat on it.”

“I’m not noticing any of the young men too awfully fat, Gilly.”

  “Perhaps because they’ve plenty since they were wee folk and have no real appreciation for what they could ’ave been lacking.”

Cuddy nodded and slackened his pace a bit to refasten a shoe.  “I saw a shop along the river on Sunday that sold books and paper.  Would ye like to go there now and acquire the supplies of which we’ve a need?”

“Aye,” returned Gilly.  “I’m most interested in seeing the steel pens such as the young men were using around us.  Did ye bring the coin for purchasing?”

“Aye, that I did,” he grinned.

The boys returned to Maid’s Club with bags filled to brim with school supplies.  Because they had not taken notes during either of the morning’s classes, they had nothing to review and therefore decided to go to the dining room for their meal.  They stood just inside the luxuriously decorated room taking a closer look at its interior.

“‘Tis a bit different than the inns we’ve sat at.”

“None of the young fellows seem very hungry.  Look at the way they talk instead of eating.”

“And when they do eat, they take sparing, small bites of food.”

“T’would take all the evening to eat in such a manner as that.”

“Not all evening with the small portions they’ve been served,” whispered Gilly.

“Nothing like we were furnished the evening before,” agreed Cuddy.

“We’ve no need of embarrassing ourselves,” commented Gilly quietly.  “Seems their first order of business is not eating. Perhaps our original idea was the best and we should spend the evenings eating in the quiet privacy of our own rooms.”

“We’ve got to be the duckling sometime and jump into the pond.  We’re to be here for a year,” disagreed Cuddy.  “It would be best to become familiar with the other young fellows.  There,” he pointed, “see the table behind the two palms?  It is rather hidden and we could sit there and be a part of the group without showing our table manners to our disadvantage.”

Gilly looked and sure enough there was a small table sitting against the wall with a ceiling pillar to one side and two palm trees placed in front so it conveniently lent itself to privacy of a sort.  He nodded and said, “That’s a fine place.  Let’s be about asking the waiter if we may occupy that seat.”

The boys asked and the waiter said, “That seat is reserved for McAllistair.”

“Well, then, that’s fine.  We’re the lads taking young McAllistair’s place at the university this year so I’m supposin’ he’ll not mind us sitting at his table while he’s gone.”

The boys found the table allowed seclusion and access to other conversations around them.  Conversation at those tables was rapid-fire and quite surprising to Gilly and Cuddy.

“Politics of England

“Traveling to South America

“Business in China

“And, the man spoke just so….

“The barrister, the judge, the mayor, the Baron, Lord, King, Princess….

McGillvery and McGillicuddy bent their heads to their meals and listened raptly. 

After a leisurely dinner they quietly retired to their room.  “I didn’t hear them once speak in the dead language and I didn’t hear them discussing the ethical concerns of the professor,” observed Gilly while changing his stockings, shoes, and dress pants.

“Aye, but did ye ever hear such a wide variety of conversation?”

“It was like hearing the newspaper before its been written, printed, sold, and read.”

“They’re the knowledgeable young chaps, aren’t they?” noted Cuddy while loosening the stay around his shirt’s collar.

“Aye, that they be and not too boring either.”

“I’m thinking they would be little interested in the finer points of waxing a wagon’s wheel.”

“Is this what the university does then?”

“I’m not knowing.”

“Me neither, but I am more firmly desiring we stay in this place.  It would be a fine thing to be able to sit at table and talk in such a manner as the young men have this afternoon.”

“And, me,” said Cuddy, “for me, I agree.”

The boys spent the rest of the evening writing their memories of the Land of the Gone Forever, reading their mother’s book, and settling in for an early retirement.

They were surprised to find the Latin professor announcing an exam first thing in the morning. 

“Write the conjugations for the verbs ‘to have,’ ‘to love,’ ‘to be,’ and ‘to go.’”

The class pulled pens and paper from school sacks and began diligent, steady writing.

“Cuddy,” whispered Gilly.  “Are ye able to do that?”

The professor looked sternly in their direction.  “Conferencing during exam is punishable by automatic failure.”

Gilly blushed redly, bent his head to paper, and pretended to conjugate verbs.  When the examinations were called forward, both boys submitted blank pieces of paper upon which their names were written—not a single verb had been conjugated.  They waited until the classroom emptied and then approached the professor.

“Sir, we were missing the first several days of class and did not have opportunity to study for the questions you asked for this examination.  We need to procure the missed information to study so that we will not fail the next examination.”

The professor looked at them coolly and said, without tone or inflection in his voice, “It is your responsibility to conference with the other students for missed notes and scheduling information.”

“Ahhh,” returned Gilly.  “Then, could you be giving us some of the names of our classmates and where they might be living so we can contact them today for our missed notes?”

“I do not keep records of my student’s whereabouts,” he returned shortly, “and would never distribute such information to unknown parties for the mere asking.”  With that statement, he gathered the exams, stuffed them into a leather case, and briskly walked to the door leaving McGillvery and McGillicuddy looking quite astonished.

“That’s a cold wind blowing,” observed Cuddy.

“Aye, ’e’s not the helpful lad, is he?”

“Well, to be fair to the professor we do not know what his stresses are, do we?  Being as unfamiliar as we are with this life, we’d best suppose he’s good reason for not helping us with the notes.”

“He’s living in a powerfully small room, not as large and comfortable as ours.  Perhaps the smallness of his room is causing him to be a mite cranky.”

“That could be,” agreed McGillicuddy and then he turned to McGillvery with a question in his eyes.  “Have ye ever heard of an Alma Mater before, Gilly?”

“Nay, not in any conversation or readings either.”

 “Last evening, when I was going to fetch the extra towels, I heard one of the boys talking about his Alma Mater.  I told him we were studying the Latin and asked him what the two words meant.  He told me that the young fellows—the students—looked at the university as a second Mother.”

Gilly thought on this piece of information for a moment and remarked, “We had a most wonderful Mother.” 

“Aye, I immediately remembered how pleasing our mother was with her soft hand and her constant belief in our ability to do well, her encouraging smile and willingness to serve without recompense and I felt happy at the young man’s words because I thought that we were to have a second Mother to help us on the way to learning and wisdom.”

McGillvery scratched his head a bit and wondered, “If the university were an Alma Mater, then are the professors an extension of the Mother?”

“I’m not sure, Gilly,” replied Cuddy slowly.  “Perhaps they’re more like part of the Mother’s family—our uncles and aunts—lending us good examples of fidelity and loyal, God-fearing action.”

“Then, the children of this great Mother are the students growing up in understanding and comprehension of goodness and truth.”

“Aye, that’s what I was thinking.”

With a slight look of worry on his face, Gilly asked, “If we asked our mother’s brother for the notes from the last week’s lecture, do you think he would have delivered the same?”

“We weren’t lucky enough to spend much time with our uncle,” noted Cuddy.  “But the little I remember of him is that he was a most helpful old gentleman.”

“Something like Mother, I remember,” acknowledged McGillvery.

“Aye, a great deal of Mother’s kindness rested on him.”  Cuddy paused and looked from the corner of his eye at his brother and said, “I’m well knowin’ where ye’re going with this.  But you have to remember not all Mothers are graced with the good heart as ours was and it makes perfect common sense to me that some Mothers can be havin’ the unkind heart.  After all, we’ve read the stories of Mothers forgetting their own babes by the side of the river’s edge when they’d too many at home and we’ve read ancient stories about Mothers who killed all their children so they could be the queen.  ’Tis hard to imagine throwing over the very meaning of Motherhood for power and glory; but because it has happened in the past, it could most certainly happen again.  It could be our university mother is a bit more rapacious and interested in herself than in helping along her children.”

“Seems that kind of Mother is a good one to run away from,” decidedly spoke Gilly.

“Aye,” agreed Cuddy thoughtfully before looking and realizing they had just arrived at their Philosophy of Religion class.  This class proceeded uneventfully and McGillvery and McGillicuddy took diligent and prodigious notes.

After class, they approached a small, young man adorned with very large spectacles and asked if they could borrow his notes from the first three days of class.

“No,” he said shortly and turned away.

Nervously, McGillvery and McGillicuddy headed for the door.  “It does not do particularly well to miss classes,” observed McGillicuddy.

“Or to fail to take the notes,” agreed Gilly.  “What are the poor fellows to do who become ill during their school sessions?  If they’ve no means to procure their notes, then they must surely fail their examinations.  Truth to tell, I’m not certain about the intent of this institution.  Does not the Book say that if one asks and it is in one’s power to supply that which is asked, it must be given freely and with a good heart?”

“Aye, that it does and in plain, good language,” remembered McGillicuddy.

“We’d best hurry and find those notes from someone and quite quickly, too,” urged McGillvery.

“Perhaps someone at Maid’s Club may be sitting in these classes and we could borrow their papers on the name of our benefactor.”

“That’s a good plan.  A smile and good intentions certainly seem to pull no weight here.”

McGillvery and McGillicuddy headed directly to Maid’s Club to find someone’s notes from which they could study the past week’s lessons.  They walked to the desk clerk and asked him if he knew anyone who might be taking Latin this semester.  The clerk shrugged and pointed to the dining room.

“Ask Schaeffer at the head table.  He usually has a finger on everything going on around here.”

There was only one table occupied for the luncheon meal.  McGillvery walked to it and asked in a most polite manner, “I’m looking for Schaeffer.  Someone told me he may be able to tell me who is studying Latin this semester.”

One of the young men looked at McGillvery and laughed.  “Beginning Latin?”

McGillvery nodded.

“All upper classmen at this table,” the young man replied.  “You’ll have to find someone else to help you.”

As McGillvery turned away, the young man called, “A bit green, aren’t you?  For a price, there’s always help.”

McGillvery returned to the table, surprised and at the same time hopeful. 

“You’re the boys staying in McAllistair’s place, aren’t you?  You are dressed as if you have been gone to the South Americas for a while.  When you come home, it is always good form to groom oneself as befits gentleman.  As for the information about Latin, talk to Crowley.  He is in charge of all record keeping this semester.  He should have all the exams and most of the notes that you may need.”  The young man, in a disinterested way asked, “Which professor did you draw—O’Brien?  He’s deciphering the Roman inscriptions at Pennybrook, you know.  There’s quite an argument going currently about his translations.”

“No,” replied McGillvery, “I didn’t know.  But we thank you for the information about Crowley.  We’ll talk with him.”

As the boys turned to go, the young fellow called, “Wait.  You didn’t leave halfpenny.”

“Halfpenny?”

The young man’s hand was held out. 

“Oh, halfpenny.  Sure,” and McGillvery reached into his pocket and placed a single coin in the young man’s hand.

The young man looked at the coin, then round at his comrades, and laughed, “Well, they’re probably wealthier than anyone else at the table and you know what that means—pitiful halfpenny.”

The brothers turned to leave in front of waves of laughter rising from the table behind them.

As they left the dining area, Gilly said, “Are we looking rough, Cuddy?  We’ve the best clothes we’ve ever worn in our lives—freshly new from the Dublin Merchandising store.  Our shoes are polished and yet the young fellow at table said we looked like fellows back from an expedition and we need to tidy a bit.”

Cuddy looked down at his pants and shirt.  “I’m not sure of the meaning behind the young man’s words.  We’ve no gravy stains on our shirts.  The pants are a bit rumpled, but that’s a necessity from having sat at the desks all the day.”

“I’m not knowing either, Cuddy.  Perhaps the young man is a bit cranky and mite too particular.”

“Did ye notice anything peculiarly different about him as compared to us?”

“No, I was fastened on his face and his manner.  I noticed not his clothes or his tidiness.”

“Perhaps ’e’s got a bit of the girl in him then.  It was Mother who always noticed our upkeep, not Father.”

“Do ye suppose that could be the truth?  The desk clerk did say he always had a finger on everything.  Gossip is more of a woman’s occupation than a man’s.”

“An’ it’s midday and ’e’s sitting around a table like a woman instead of being out and about doing things necessary.”

“To be fair to him there, we’re all students together now and I’m supposin’ we’re sitting more about a table than usual nowadays, too.”

“Ye don’t suppose the university makes a feminizing influence now do ye?” asked Cuddy concernedly.

“Whooo—ee,” whistled Gilly softly.  “Let’s hope not.  Men can’t go to being like women or the whole world would be lost.  Mum was a wonderful creature, but not as resourceful as we lads.”

“She’d have been a little lost if she’d broken a wheel on the road,” admitted Cuddy.  “It was the lads who kept everything fixed and repaired for her.  She was a mite helpful on the meals, sewing, and reading of the Book, though.”

“Aye, that she was.  Well, perhaps we’ve need to more carefully observe these lads to understand what the differences are even if we choose not to copy all that they do.”

“T’would not hurt.  We’ve always a good understanding of being Catholic in Catholic land and Protestant in Protestant land.  It’s the prudent course leading to a longer life.”

“And, its the course leading to the enrichment of personal circumstances.  ’Tis a little difficult to sell while arguing the points of religion.  So, I’m supposin’ we’re trying to sell ourselves at Maid’s Club and it’s a foolishness for us to be arguing that we’re not ill-kept if the young lads accuse us of being such.”

“Perhaps we could ask the desk clerk about such matters.  He undoubtedly knows a great deal about the most proper way to attire oneself.”

Accordingly the boys, who had been walking toward the stairs to find Crowley, turned round, and retired to the desk for the purpose of asking pertinent questions about grooming.

“We’re in difficult straits,” began Cuddy carefully to the desk clerk.  “As you can see, we’re not as well-groomed as we should be and new to Dublin, we’re wondering at the best places for accomplishing a bit of tidying.”

The desk clerk without raising eyes said, “Hair, face, hands and feet—Madam LeRoux.  Clothing—Charbon, the tailor.  Feet are shod at O’Malleys.  Madam LeRoux and Charbon make room visits if that is more to your convenience.”

The boys thanked him for the quick and relevant information.  As they walked away, Gilly said to Cuddy, “First things first.  We need to find Mister Crowley for those examinations and notes for the class we are taking.”

“The examinations?” asked McGillicuddy.

“Sure.  Didn’t you hear the words of Schaeffer?  He said Crowley had both the examinations and the notes,” said McGillvery.

“No wonder all the young fellows left the room so quickly this morning,” observed McGillicuddy.  “If they had the examination in advance, it was no challenge for them to complete it.  We’re smartly outclassed, McGillvery.  We need to speak with this Crowley immediately.”  They returned to the desk clerk.

Crowley’s room is next to yours, Room 238,” answered the desk clerk before they could ask.  “He likes a bottle or two in trade for the effort.”

They nodded sheepishly and walked toward the stairs.

Crowley was not in his room. 

“I’m not sure what we should do now,” said McGillvery.

“Well, it’s early in the day.  We could tend to the tidying that seems so important to Schaeffer.”

“And we are responsible for exercising the thoroughbreds,” reminded McGillvery to his brother.  “Perhaps we should endeavor doing our duty first before taking care of the niceties.”

McGillicuddy rolled his eyes, remembering the temperamental stable charges, and said, “I’m thinking it may be wiser to find Charbon, LeRoux, and O’Malley and take care of the rough edges on our own beings before we begin smoothing the rough edges on those two creatures.”

Gilly nodded a wee bit glumly.  “We’ll earn our keep minding that obligation.  But, we’ve also need to be lookin’ in on Belle and Shade I’m thinking.”

The boys returned to their room, retrieved the two riding saddles, and proceeded to the stables.  They slowly walked toward the two boxes with the McAllistair name engraved in slightly tarnished brass above the doors.

“Well, now,” said Cuddy as he quickly sidestepped out of the way of the first box’s door.  “If it isn’t the one with the long neck for nipping at a fellow when ’e passes.”

Gilly looked into the second horse’s box and stepped back quickly as two hooves smacked the side of the stall.  “’E’s rollin’ his eyes somethin’ fierce,” he said.

Cuddy walked warily around the door of the nipping gelding and walked toward the stallion who promptly showed awareness of human presence by kicking the sides of the stall three times in succession.  “There’s truly nothing free in this world, Gilly, is there?” pined Cuddy.  “We’ll be putting our lives on the line every day of this year while trying to exercise these temperamental ponies.”

“Perhaps we could just open their gate and let them run out to pasture from their stalls,” suggested Gilly.

“An’ how would we be gatherin’ them again from pasture?” inquired Cuddy.  He squatted some distance from the biting gelding and watched it for awhile.  “We’re thinkin’ we could be ridin’ these animals.  But that’s a fallacious idea.  What if they were led close to a more somber and intelligent disposition like Belle and Shade?  If they spend enough time in sensible company, they might attend to better manners over a period of time and then, we may find we could begin riding them for their exercise.”

“That’s a goodly idea,” said Gilly.  “I’ll get the lead ropes, if ye’ll begin saddling Belle and Shade.”

Cuddy laughed and held the light riding saddles in mid-air.  “They won’t know what to do with these airy contraptions on their backs.”

Gilly grinned, “T’will be some different than pulling the cart.”

Soon the boys were mounted on Belle and Shade and reaching over the stall doors of McAllistair’s thoroughbreds to clip the lead ropes onto their halters.  They opened the doors and both horses followed Belle and Shade in a most docile manner to pasture.  After a brisk workout, they returned to stable and found the stableman leaning against the outer wall, grinning largely. 

“Are ye to be responsible for the two McAllistair devils?  They need a thorough riding, lads, every day, or they get quite mean.”

Gilly looked over his shoulder apprehensively at his led charge.  “Are ye saying they could become worse than they are?  I’m not sure we could get a saddle on them for their kicking and biting now.”

The stableman guffawed loudly.  “I’ll show you a trick to makin’ them act a bit better.  Here, hand me the ropes.” 

The stableman reached inside his coat pocket and took out two sugar lumps.  The horses eagerly leaned their heads forward to accept the proffered treats and followed easily for the placing into their respective stalls. 

“You’ve got to understand the thoroughbreds.  They’ll not do it for nothing.  They’re always looking for the gain of it and if they calculate the gain is not worth the effort, you’ll not see them cooperating much and don’t think its always as easy as a lump of sugar.  Sometimes it’ll take a great deal more reward than sugar for them to perform.  The difference between blood and non-blood, you see, is that the thorough-blood uses its head and the non-blood uses its heart.  Kind of like men,” he tossed over his shoulder, “if you know what I mean.”

As Cuddy put away the horses, Gilly said quietly, “A horse should know its place.  Its purpose is to serve men in a cooperative manner.  Those two need to know what their purpose in life is.  Our Belle and Shade always knew and served us well.”

“Aye, Belle and Shade have great, large hearts.”

As if stuck on the subject, Gilly repeated, “The McAllistair horses are quite worthless if they do not serve.”

“Willingness goes a long way toward usefulness,” added Cuddy. 

“’Tis what our mother taught us.  Who’s ever heard of an animal not willing to be useful?”

“’Tis sure certain they end on the dining room table if they’ve no heart and willingness and yet, ’tis important to use the head, too.”

 “I’m wondering what one has when one has an animal that uses its head and its heart?”

“You have,” said Cuddy firmly, “a winner—kind of like men, if you know what I mean.”

Gilly laughed a soberish sound while watching Cuddy give Belle and Shade an extra measure of oats in their trough.  “Well, what are we to do with the long-headed animals?”

“All we had to do was exercise them.  The Lord did not tell us we had to ride them.  I’m thinking Belle and Shade are the best means of exercising them.  That went quite well this afternoon.”

“Aye, but the stableman said if they were not ridden, they would not be fit by spring for any use.  Our moral duty is to have them in the same condition they’re in now by spring, or better.”

“Then perhaps this is the best time to exercise—after we wore them down a little.  I saw a small garden at the back of the inn.  I’m wondering if they’d be as fond of carrots as they are of sugar?”

“It’s worth a try,” replied McGillivery as he hoisted the two saddles from the pegs in Belle and Shade’s stall to carry to the McAllistair stalls.

After their workout with Belle and Shade, the gelding and stallion were quite adaptable to bridling and saddling.  They moved toward the mounting block in a most docile manner with jaws moving rhythmically around baby carrots.  Temporarily sidetracked by the treats they were offered, the unpredictable horses allowed both boys to mount and to begin a small journey into the woods which soon became an enjoyable, long ride round the university grounds and back to Maid’s Club. 

After caring for the horses, the boys immediately headed for Crowley’s room.  The door was open and a young man was sitting at his desk.

“Mr. Crowley?” asked McGillvery.

The young man turned and nodded.

“We’re looking for notes and examinations for Latin class.”

“Are you residents?” the young man countered.  “I don’t recall seeing you before.”

“We’re next door to you in McAllistair’s room.”

“Well, exams aren’t for those who are bunking in,” he said.

“Oh, we’re not bunking in.  We’re guests of McAllistair’s and Lord McAllistair for the year.  Schaeffer told us to come see you.”

“Oh,” he replied.  “Well, I’m pretty busy right now.”

Cuddy held out two bottles of green beer.

“But, in the circumstances, I suppose it would be all right.  Come along,” and he led them down the hall, downstairs into a large basement furnace room.  Three of the walls were lined with neatly labeled boxes stacked to the ceiling. 

“It’s a time-honored tradition,” he said spreading his arms wide.  “The notes and exams cover all classes taught at university.  Your fee for using these materials is quite simple.  All your notes and exams must be filed here for future Maid’s Club residents to use.  You are responsible for labeling them with the semester, date, the class, and the professor.  Let’s see, is it Beginning Latin you are looking for?”

McGillvery nodded.

“Then, this semester that would be O’Brien.  Good teacher, but difficult to get along with on the best of days.  These boxes are for this semester’s Latin and it looks as if notes have already been filed.  Let’s see.  Yes, notes for the entire week.  If you want to know what O’Brien’s exams are like, these ten boxes contain notes and examinations for the last ten years.  Latin is pretty straightforward really, but you’ve drawn a teacher who will make it difficult to pass out with a decent mark to your record and of course Maid’s Club prides itself on good records and decent marks.”

“Aye,” agreed Gilly and Cuddy meekly.  “We’re sure wantin’ to meet the standards.”

Crowley looked at them both a bit oddly and asked, “Where did you say you have been traveling?”

Cuddy spoke quickly, drawing from his military travels.  India and Africa, mostly.”

“Ah,” returned Crowley.  “You’ll have something in common with Jacoby.  His father has mines in Africa and has just opened a silk importing venture in India.  You’ll take time to discuss your impressions of the Indian economy with him, of course.”

Cuddy did not reply.

Crowley handed them the Latin notes and Cuddy pointed to a box on the end of the stack.  “Is that Political Philosophy I’m seeing?  We’re needin’ the notes for that class, too.”

Crowley quickly retrieved the notes and the three boys headed toward the stairway.

The evening was spent profitably studying Latin verbs, reviewing notes taken during the day, writing down memories of their adventure, and reading in their Mother’s Book.

“We could always hope the Latin professor will give another exam tomorrow.  We’ve studied the verbs enough to at least write something on the paper,” said McGillvery as he was turning back covers on the bed.

“Or we could hope he never again gives an exam and we all receive the best marks and pass on to greater things.”

Gilly laughed grandly, “Are ye wishin’ for the icing on the cake and the cake, too?”

“Wishin’ for it all has been the story of my life, Brother,” replied Cuddy.


 

Chapter 8

Humility

Late the next afternoon after exercising the McAllistair horses, the boys retired to their small table hidden behind the palms and tuned their ears toward the nearby table.

“I’m wondering where McAllistair picked them up?  ‘Are ye going to class, then?’ ‘What would be yer ladyship wishin?’”

The room filled with laughter.  “My maid speaks better than that!”

“My father wouldn’t allow a stablemen on the place who couldn’t speak better than that no matter his qualifications!”

Again the room erupted with laughter.

“Do you see the way they walk?  Like they’ve got the whole world on their shoulders!”

“And, those big eyes—timid and afraid of everything!”

“Well, they’ll be good entertainment for this semester.”

“Wonder where they’ll go for holiday?”

“From the looks of them, they’ll be glad enough to stay on here.”

“The clerk said they were asking about grooming yesterday.”

“It would take a month soaking in the finest oils to improve that lot.”

“I’m wondering that Charbon would even see them.”

“Oh, you know how it is.  The poor folk get very good at name dropping.  It’s how they got the examinations from Crowley.”

Several voices jeered in a heckling manner.  Crowley, I suppose anyone who says Schaeffer sent them has immediate access to the club’s room of knowledge.”

“Let up.  I was studying for the Physics’ examination when they showed up.  You know I get involved in the studies.  I really didn’t even see them.  I just heard the name Schaeffer and I think instead of blaming me, Schaeffer shouldn’t be spreading his name around so liberally.”

“Aye, and the name dropping worked on Schaeffer, too. Schaeffer sent them to you based upon the fact they were guests of Lord McAllistair.”

“Why don’t you become a bit better acquainted with them?  It would be good sport.”

“I’ll see if they play polo or golf.”

“Those workhorses?  Hah!” laughed one of the boys.  “How could they ever place among thoroughbreds?  They’ve not been trained for it.  Would be such a farce it would quickly lose the sport of it!”

McGillicuddy blushed redly to the roots of his hair.  The waiter came to their table and said, “May I serve you?”

“We would like to eat in our rooms, please,” replied McGillicuddy quietly so as not to attract notice from the table beyond.  “The roast and potatoes will be fine, a plate for two.”

The boys carefully pushed their chairs back from the table and retired to their room.

“We’ve no place,” said Gilly dolefully. “Trying to play the Lord’s guest when we’ve nothing but lint in our pockets, we’re the tinkers.  They know it.  We know it.  It is how our life has been ordered.”

“No,” replied Cuddy quietly.  “We’ll not talk that way.  We have been given life and as long as we breathe a breath we have a right to a place on this earth.  As far as life’s order, well, order can be changed, rearranged, reshaped, restructured, reorganized, restyled, and remade.  Why even women understand that, Gilly.  Use your manly senses.  You’ve seen young lasses with straight hair, ordered from birth, use the crimping irons and change that natural order into masses of unnatural curls that put the natural to shame and you’ve seen the Negress take her curls, ordered by nature, and change them into the straightest hair ever seen.  Order is what you decide to make it, Gilly, and we’re not going to accept the order that seems to have been forced upon us by a changing society.  We’re going to bend, change, turn, twist, and bow into any shape necessary to adapt.  Besides,” he said, “we’ve learned something from everyone we’ve ever met.  In this particular situation we can learn a great deal about a group of people we’ve spent little time with.  It may be a humbling experience just as this overhearing of a trifle of a conversation has been—but what have we lost?  In truth, nothing.  A little flush to the cheeks.  But, we’ve gained.  We’ve learned of a certain attitude that is maintained by these young men toward others who are of different manner and habit and speech than themselves.  If we choose to run for the red in our cheeks, then we not only deprive ourselves of a learning experience, Gilly, but we also deprive the young Lords of a learning experience.”

“How so?” asked a surprised Gilly.

“They’ve not much of a chance to be in close contact with the lower classes, to observe their manner of reacting to education and the demands of such an environment.  This is a golden opportunity for them to observe first hand the rigors experienced by ones who’ve not been born to it.  In truth, Gilly, they may be astounded at our use of a fork and knife at table and the means with which we express ourselves in speech and in writing, but if we stay through all obstacles and if we improve and if we display the kind spirit and the humble attitude as we overcome our difficulties, we should procure a type of admiration even from the hardest hearted son.”

Gilly frowned and replied reluctantly, “I suppose you’re right.  I’m remembering the runt pup we used to have.  No one thought much about him or his abilities and he was much the brunt of Father’s tongue and boot, but he grew to be a fine watchdog with a purposeful eye and even Father became quite fond of him and was heard to brag on him from time to time.”

“Aye,” enthusiastically replied Cuddy.  “Just so.  If the least thing we find after our education is that these lads can never be kind to anyone holding less than their social status, no matter how winning the ways of such ones, then we’ll take away with us the thought that when we’ve obtained our wealth we shall never act the lads of Maid’s Club with any less fortunate or more pitiable than ourselves.  Harsh and unkind lessons can trim a heart into a fine mold of kindness if one but lets it happen.”

“Ye know, Cuddy, I’ve just been reminded of a wee story in Mum’s Book.  She used to tell us the story sometimes and I’m just now seeing an application for it.”

“I listen well, Gilly.”

“That I know.  Remember Joseph?  His people were an abhorrence to the Egyptians.  They had to dine separately and were not well welcomed at the Egyptians’ tables.  And, when the kind Joseph was given permission to settle his people on Egyptian land, he settled them in a place that was set apart from the Egyptians.  We’re not unlike that situation, are we?  We’re having to set at different tables for our lack of fine manners and upbringing.  The important thing to remember is that Joseph did not allow that to keep him from succeeding right well because he knew it was not the sitting and eating at a separate table that would keep him from prospering.  He knew prospering came from the Father and he knew despite those circumstances, his Father could work around all things and prosper him well.”

Cuddy laughed a bit and said, “Joseph had a prison record, too, Gilly.  What would the young fellows think if we had the same background as Joseph and endeavoring to sit in the same room as themselves?”

“Most likely the young fellows would be greatly shocked, Cuddy.  There’s many a man who’s not been able to raise himself from such a background primarily because he relied on men to raise him rather than relying on the Father who is able to break all barriers and prosper a man accordingly.”

Gilly lowered his head and smiled ruefully.  “Well, this instance truly was a discomfiture, but you’ve spoken truly by saying our shame has nothing to do with our Father’s direction for our future prospering.  It wasn’t the lads who put us in McAllistair’s room and it wasn’t the lads who paid for our tuition this year to give us a start on the road to wisdom and knowledge.  So, we’ll be the ever humble men and keep our minds about us and continue on under the Father’s hand, hoping for the help He so richly gave Joseph.”


Chapter 9

The Struggle

The week began with new exams in each class.  While properly prepared for their lessons, the two boys were not able to finish their exams within the allotted time and found themselves diligently working when the professors called for all exams forward.

McGillvery and McGillicuddy quickly followed their papers and meekly asked if they might have an extended time to answer the rest of the questions.

“Those who work accurately and speedily will sit in the houses of kings, gentlemen. It is a Hebrew proverb, I believe.  Speed indicates proficiency.  Obviously, your inability to finish the exam indicates your lack of diligence and desire.  We are all graded in life, Sirs, by our actions.  You have failed a second time to achieve,” spoke the Latin professor sternly.  “Let me remind you, there are no second chances to do well at All’s Hallows.  It appears your career here will be short indeed.”

He gathered his papers, placed them carefully into his bag, and retreated through a side door in the auditorium.

McGillvery looked at McGillicuddy.  “Proficiency?  We’ve been here for a week.  How could we have gained proficiency in that short time?  Didn’t we study with great diligence?  I was answering all the questions when the time ran out.”

McGillicuddy looked as confused as did McGillvery.  “The other students finished quite early.  Why, I saw one young fellow leave nearly as soon as he was given the exam!  Are we that slow, then?  Ahhh,” he murmured regretfully, “I would hate to think of ourselves as the clods.”

“I do not understand how these young men were able to finish the exam so quickly.”

Cuddy replied, “It cannot be they knew the information better than we for we studied rightly.”

“Then, what could it be?”

“Perhaps they’re quicker at the writing than we.  In truth, we’re not well practiced in that skill.  It was never required of us.  The young men have most likely put a great many words to paper long before they came to university.  Years of practice would make them skillful at the art.” 

“Perhaps we could be explaining the problem to the professor and he could be assigning us time to finish our examinations.”

“Somehow I’m not seeing him as a fellow much given to helping us.”

“It’s his position to help the students,” replied a disgruntled Gilly.

“I’m thinkin’ these professors are a different sort than the usual teacher and a bit more temperamental.  If ye think about it, even in our tinker’s wagon we had a change of scenery all the day long and unique conversation between the two of us and our customers.  But the professor has only to stand in front of a class all the entire day saying, ‘Amas, Amo, Amat.’”

“Aye, that could make a fellow a mite cranky.”

“And not just a little bored.”

“No,” corrected Gilly, “’tis no excuse.  One must never lose sight of the meaning of what they do and must always remember the most serving and the most faithful servant is the one to be the most rewarded.”

“Whether the professor is kind or otherwise, does not lessen the fact that we’ve need to pass our exams,” worried Cuddy.  “We’ve need of sound advice for our improvement.”

“Aye, we didn’t get to be the traders we are without the advice and leadership of our father.”

“Then, we’d best be looking for the greater Father’s advice,” returned Gilly.

After the second class, the boys headed for their room, pulled out their mother’s book and read, “Go to the ant, you lazy idler and observe his ways…the lazy man turns idly upon his bed and is so lazy he will not bring his finger back from the bowl into which it is dipped.”

“But, we worked with mighty effort this week, Cuddy.  What can He ever be meaning by that?”

“Perhaps we did not work mightily enough, Gilly.  I’m remembering the patriarch Jacob complaining for the redness of eye he had for staying up all the night in cold and foul weather and working through the day, too.  Perhaps we’re needing to do without the sleep to improve our performance.”

“’Tis important to eat and to get one’s sleep,” objected Gilly.

“However, perhaps we need to gather more hours from our sleeping and give those hours to studying.  If we slept two hours less per night, we could practice writing our letters during those hours so we could write with more proficiency and rapidness.  It could be,” he mused, “we’re like an empty pitcher that’s needin’ to be filled with a different kind of work habit than the one we’ve been used to all our days.”

“And pitchers can be over-filled and ruin lovely things all around them,” grumbled Gilly, who dearly loved his sleep.

“But, they can also be filled to just the right level and with fullness begin to run over in passed examinations and good knowledge and understanding,” pointed out his brother.

So began the most difficult year of the boys’ life.  Their eyes found little slumber and they grew to regret the time necessary for the daily exercise of the horses.  Often, they looked past their balcony to see the Lord’s sons running and playing freely on the grass.  Every day found the Brothers diligently retired to their room for study while the clubroom below rocked with jocularity into the wee hours of the morning.  There was no space of a moment for them to waste and still McGillvery and McGillicuddy failed to make the excellent scores they so desired.

Finally, the day came for the first semester’s final examinations which both boys, despite diligent preparation, failed together.  After a brief meeting with the school administrator concerning their records, a greatly dispirited Gilly said, “We’ve sold ourselves, Cuddy.  We thought we were slaves to Mister Poverty.  Now we’ve become slaves to the whims of the professors and their calculated desire to prove us under.  They seem to positively revel in our failure.”

Cuddy was exceedingly quiet looking for the words to help his brother.  Finally he said, “There are many ways to be slaves.  There are many ways to be disciplined.  We may need to look at this as a discipline leading to better things rather than as a slavery with no hope in sight.”

“Learning has always been a joyful thing.  It is no longer joyful,” complained Gilly.

“It is because this Mother whips her children to get them to walk, Gilly.  It is more difficult to learn to walk when there is not a smiling face encouraging one to make the first faltering steps.  We’re the babes here.  We still do not write as fast as the other young men despite our diligence in practice.  Our minds are slower in grasping the knowledge.  We’re rather like a new field that’s never been plowed.  It’s a slow process to remove the trees and the stones and the sod that stands in the way of a proper sowing.  Every day we diligently prepare ourselves, only to fail growing the beautiful seeds being planted in us.  But, at some point in time, our soil should be so beautifully prepared that we shall finish our exams on time and grow quite fine things in our soil.”

“Ye’ve a way with the words when it comes to encouraging others, Cuddy,” said Gilly meekly.  “That’s a fine way to look at what’s happening to us.  I would have likened it more to a sharp rake digging the skin from our bones so that we can be planted under the university sod.”

Cuddy grinned.  “I’ve thought that, too.  But it will not help to think about it that way.  We would be running instead of taking the pain.”

“Will the day ever come when university understands that just as all men eventually walk given the proper environment and encouragement, all men could succeed in mastering knowledge if given enough tries?  Failure is not a bad thing, Cuddy.  It is the means to success.  The baby falls and falls before finally standing on its own two legs to walk.  Why doesn’t the university understand that basic principle of living?”

“It seems to me the university only works with the noblemen’s sons.  Perhaps these children never fall before they walk.  Perhaps it’s only the poor children who fall and fall before walking.”

“Do ye think so?” asked an amazed Gilly.

“Aye, possibly so.  We’ve never been behind the castle walls to see how such men are as the wee babes.”

“Then, that would explain why the university has no patience with such as we be.  It’s a good thing they had no control over us as babies for then we should’ve never been able to do anything but crawl.  What a division between men that would be—a sort who crawl and a sort who walk—all for the upbringing!”

“Aye, it seems a great evil.  The Book speaks of men ruling others to their own hurt.  It seems a deep kind of meanness to keep good men down in a serving capacity for lack of patience in helping them become more than they are.  I’m wondering now what would happen if knowledge were offered freely to all men just as walking is offered freely by God to all babes…if they released the knowledge instead of holding it high above one’s head and making one jump and beg for it as a dog leaping for a bite of meat at the hand of a meanly teasing child, where would our world be?  Perhaps by now all poor men would know what the finest engineer and doctor know and all rich men would have the knowledge of angels.  Perhaps there would be no more poverty anywhere, no more want, no more sickness, and no more death.  Elevation of man, Cuddy, is not a bad thing.  It is a good thing, not to be withheld for privately held assumptions that knowledge is power that is to be wielded over others to keep them in a slavery position of want and destitution.”

Gilly shook his head and replied, “Well, for all that, we’ve need to learn how to walk in this most knot-headed land.  You told me once, when you were doing your military training and I was speaking of the harshness of it, that ‘in the struggle is the proving.’  I thought about that long after you’d gone to serve in the foreign lands, Cuddy.  Those six little words seem to cover the reality of every endeavor—whether it be a soldier of highest rank or a Mother raising her child or a man keeping his family—they each have a battle and a struggle of immense proportions.  But in overcoming all the obstacles that come their way, while maintaining good dispositions free of hurt, greed, envy, and malicious intent, they come out of their struggles beautiful, useful human beings—beings of worth and valor.”

“Speaking of the struggle, Gilly,” interrupted Cuddy, “what was the meaning of the letter we just received from the administration office saying we were on academic probation?”

“I think it means we shall no longer be allowed to attend the classes if we continue failing our examinations.”

“That’s what I was thinking it was meaning and I’ve been holding an opinion about a solution to our academic woes.  Do ye remember Father saying there was a man made for every job and a job for every man?  I’ve been thinking perhaps we are taking classes ill-suited for our particular talents.”

“I didn’t see classes teaching how to properly shoe a tinker’s pony,” remarked Gilly wryly.

Cuddy grimaced sharply.  “Just hear me out a bit, Brother.”  He continued, “I heard one of the boys at Schaeffer’s table saying he was most in love with the mathematics and the physics and it was there he excelled, but that he most certainly hated the languages and the arts for the difficulty he was having in those subjects.  He said he could see no proper sense to them and had failed languages most miserably.  It occurred to me that the error we’re making is in the subjects we are studying rather than within ourselves.”

“We were not able to have our choice of study material for this semester, were we?”

“Nay, we were not.  We took that which was left over and not wanted by anyone else due to our late enrollment.”

“Are ye thinkin’ we could be studying the mathematics and the physics?”

“I’m not truly knowin’.  But, we are fair handy at adding the number columns with honest accuracy.  This is something we’ve done frequently in our tinkerin’ business.  We should excel beyond the other classmates for the practice we’ve had at it.”

“That’s true!”  replied Gilly excitedly.  “It would be a wonderful thing to be at the front of the class instead of at the end of the class for performance.  We are good at the numbers.  Studying the mathematics could well save our academic careers.”

Catching a bit of Gilly’s enthusiasm, Cuddy grinned widely and said, “Then on the morrow, let’s be enrolling in those classes we’ve a mind and a background for doing.”  Accordingly, on the very next day, Gilly and Cuddy enrolled in the study of Mathematics and Physics. 

Two weeks into the new session saw Gilly saying most woefully, “I’m quick with the figures, but where in this world does a man add the As, Xs, and Zs?  These things are for reading, not for adding and subtracting.  It’s as if the poor fellow has mixed his classes.”

“They talk about Pythagoras as if he were the heavenly Father himself,” added Cuddy, “and yet I’ve never heard the man’s name before in any conversation to the north or the south of all Ireland.”

“And what kind of writing is it, the little squiggles and odd lines?”

“He called the one Psi or Phi.  I couldn’t quite make out the sound of it.”

A passing student overhearing their conversation said, “It was Phi and the professor was using it to label the adjacent and hypotenuse angle of the obtuse triangle.”

“Thank you, right smartly,” called Gilly to the back of the rapidly walking student.  Turning to Cuddy, he said, “What are we to do?  That lad is still in knee breeches nearly and knowing words we’ve never heard tell of.  We’re to surely fail these classes, also, Cuddy.”

“And that means an end to our seeking of the wisdom and knowledge,” spoke Cuddy while looking exceedingly troubled. 

“Whatever was the Father thinking to send such dull-witted creatures to university?”

“I’m not thinking it’s because we are dull-witted,” replied Cuddy.

“Dull-witted or no, we’ve need of a fine plan or we’ll never be gracing these halls again for all the days of our life.”

“We need some advice from those who know best what to do.  The young fellow at Maid’s Club was failing the language classes and yet he still is attending the university.”

“We’ve not made many friends here to be asking the proper way to do things.  The boys at the club are already laughing at us for our poor ways.  I am most ashamed to allow them the privilege of knowing we are equally as poor mentally as they think we are in physical deportment.”

Cuddy shook his head negatively and firmly, “We’ll not allow them that.  There has to be someone, somewhere who can tell us what to do without damaging our reputations any further.”

Several days later the professor announced an examination.  “I wish to remind each of you that the last possible day to withdraw from this class for no credit and no record of poor performance is the 27th of this month.  You will need my signature to validate the withdrawal.”

Cuddy looked at Gilly.  Gilly looked at Cuddy.  After class, they approached the professor and asked, “What does it mean to withdraw from a class?”

“It means you have firstly wasted money.  It means secondly you have wasted time.  It means thirdly you are a quitter and not a finisher.”

The Brothers blushed deeply and apologetically excused themselves.  As they passed from the classroom, one of their fellow students stopped them.  “I heard what the professor said.  I am withdrawing from this class.”

“Even though you’ll be labeled a quitter?” gasped Gilly.

“The professors live in their own world.  Students live in quite a different world.  Sometimes quitting is the most prudent of several choices.  I would rather quit and save my academic record than push on and receive a permanent mark of failure.  Quitting a class is not always significant of failure.  Things happen during a session—crisis in the family, finances, health—there are many reasons a fellow may choose to withdraw and none of those reasons, despite what the professor says, are dishonorable.”

The Brothers nodded their heads in thanks for the wise advice of the lad.  That same day, they dropped both the Mathematics’ and the Physics’ class.


Chapter 10

A Small Plan

“Now that we are no longer the university students, how are ye preposing’ we acquire knowledge?” asked Cuddy.

“We need to find a teacher,” said Gilly.  “And I’m not talking about those professors either!  We’re needin’ to find someone kind and mild of tongue, someone helpful and wishin’ to earn their salary by the imparting of words we’re able to understand.”

“You know, Gilly, it’s going to take a lot more than a teacher for a few weeks.  I was hearing one of the lads in Latin class saying he had been speaking Latin since he was three years old and one of the fellows in Mathematics class had been studying the Trigonometry since he was a small lad.  It seems they’ve all got a great start on us for accomplishing the education.  I’m not sure how we’ll ever be catching them with such a start as they’ve had in the running.”

“Perhaps we could begin by spending our evenings reading the books in the library.”

“Those books might as well be written in the foreign languages for the understanding I get from any one of them.”

“Perhaps we could slip into the back of the larger classes and listen to the lectures until we could finally understand their words.  Even slaves going into foreign households in ancient times eventually learned to speak the household language.  If we’re exposing ourselves to the environment for long enough, perhaps we’ll be catching on to it kind of natural like.”

“Perhaps,” said Cuddy doubtfully, then with more conviction, “There’s not much else we can do.  We’ve been given a commission by our heavenly Father and somehow are in need of fulfilling it.  Dropping our courses allowed the door to this institution to be left slightly ajar so that we may re-enter again after we’re a bit better prepared.”

Gilly reminded Cuddy, “We’ll not be having the fine room or the tuition monies when we enter again.”

“Then, the first thing to do is to prepare a means of financially sustaining ourselves now and in the future when we’re going to need the gold for paying our tuition and our boarding.”

“Are ye havin’ any ideas as to how we can accomplish that feat?  Ye’re asking two poor tinkers to be raisin’ enough money to support themselves and ten others besides.  That’s a stretch of the imagination to be thinkin’ we could accomplish such a thing when we’ve barely been able to feed ourselves on our efforts up until this time.”

“The Lord gives good ideas to those who fear Him and actually,” replied Cuddy with a bit of an impish grin, “I do have a bit of an idea that may work quite nicely.  It came to me the other day when we saw Connor and he told us how much he missed his mother’s good Irish stew.  It occurred to me that we make a fine Irish stew—better than our own mother’s—and a fair to middlin’ soda bread.  I thought if we set our tinker’s wagon to the side of the campus lawn and served hot stew and hot soda bread all the day for a student’s price, we may procure enough funds to pay our tuition monies and buy our books.  Our meals could be that which is left over at the end of day and we can room and study in our tinker’s cart between serving the young men their stew.”

Gilly looked admiringly at his brother.  “Two heads are better’n one.  ’Tis a fine, bright idea!”

Encouraged by his brother’s enthusiasm, Cuddy continued, “I was also thinking we could take one class a semester rather than two until we could become stronger in our minds and in our performance.  We could take the classes on Reading.  I heard one of the young fellows say everyone gets high marks in that class.  We could listen low and just take the classes that the other students are saying are easiest to take for the better marks.  We could begin building a slight academic record for ourselves that way.”

“It’s a plan,” agreed Gilly.

“We’re free of the studying for the rest of this semester.  Would be a good time to establish our small business and since the Mathematics and Physics classes are paid for, perhaps the professors would allow us to at least sit in our seats for listening even though we wouldn’t be sitting for the final exams and class credit.”

“We could also spend our evenings listening to the visiting professors’ lectures.  It would give us a head start on knowing the kinds of things they’ll be talking about when we take the classes on those subjects.”

“T’would give us a broader perspective than we now have,” agreed Cuddy.

“Will give us a chance to repair the fact we weren’t weaned on the Greek alphabet the Mathematics’ professor is so fond of.”

“Will close the gap a bit between those born to it and those wishing to acquire it.”

“It’s a meager start, isn’t it?” asked Gilly, discouraged and daunted by the task before them.

 “Aye,” admitted Cuddy.  “But don’t be forgetting, Brother, that even in the most established Baron’s line, someone, somewhere had to start just like we are doing.  Somehow they succeeded and changed the future for their children.  When we are done, our children will have the battle partially won because they’ll have the parents who managed to conquer the fight for knowledge.  It will give them courage and the courage will give them the power to acquire the knowledge for themselves.”

“Then, for our future generations,” spoke Gilly.

And so, with a new plan in place, the boys retired to the woods and used part of the remaining funds from the sale of their merchandise to purchase supplies necessary to cook tasteful stews, to bake soda bread, and to fix their tinker’s wagon into a cooking and sleeping shed on wheels.  Their days and nights were spent listening in auditoriums to many lectures of fine words, most of which they did not understand.  Those they did understand caused them to question, doubt, exclaim, and wonder.

“Did ye hear the man?  What foolishness he talks!  The very stars teach the infiniteness of it all.  There are no boundaries.  The man is positively Godless for such a weak outlook.  Whoever put a boundary on the dynamic energy of God?  It is as if they have shut Him out of their world,” exclaimed Cuddy after one such evening lecture.

“Ohhhh,” breathed Gilly quietly after another evening lecture.  “But do ye really see the wickedness of this proposal?  It gives justification for holding back from the poor and needy.  If you believe there is a limit to energy, wealth, knowledge, ability—that all things are conserved—then you are justified in limiting those things to others on the basis that there will never be enough to go around.  That will lead to starving children because instead of believing there is an answer to all things and that doing without is not necessary, they will see lack as necessary and unavoidable.”

“This is a great wickedness…a philosophy of deficiency instead of plenty” agreed Cuddy. 

“They are putting restraints upon our Father, Cuddy.  This is a sore badness.  How could the Father desire us to be in such a place teaching such ridiculous notions?”

“Perhaps He has put us here so we can help others see that answers can always be found to man’s problems when man looks to his Source instead of to his lack.  Man’s true Source knows no lack.  Tapping into the Source will result in boundless energy and material substance to carry through any rightful project.”

 Gilly lay his head to one side and then began chuckling.  “But, now, weren’t we complaining that we weren’t able to feed five thousand on a few loaves of bread as did our Lord and that we couldn’t do it without the gold?  And, now, we’re chiding those who have decided that everything is limited.  Really, Cuddy, in a way they are saying the same thing we did—they’ve not the gift of unlimited resources.”

“And, yet, we do not believe there is truly limited supply.  We’ve an un-sureness as how to access it so that it comes from the wishing world into the reality world.  But, we’ve never denied infinite energy or infinite supply.  Think about it for a moment.  If there were a limited supply, we could never gain our plenteous abundance that we’ve so earnestly sought.  It could never be there, because it doesn’t exist.  We wouldn’t continue searching and following our Father’s advice if we didn’t believe there was a way out of limited means and supply.  Conservation of energy and the concept that matter is of finite amount and changes shape and substance lends to a terrible conclusion.  It means that as we use what we have, there will eventually come a time when the earth is a barren wasteland, a desert incapable of supporting life and that life itself will vanish from this sphere.  Without the Source, free laughter could perish from the earth.  We could become incapable of enjoying color, smell, taste, feeling the softness of silk, our world would become a world of black and white with nothing to tantalize or romanticize the process of living.  What a barren existence!”

“You have just described hell…a place of darkness and bleakness living forever without joy.”

“Then what is this place we have found ourselves in?  Is it a den of the Devil himself?  That would explain why it is such torture and why we’ve become slaves to something that has always before been a pleasant task altogether.  Think about it.  The wee professor was talking this evening about a denial of infinite power and energy.  He is teaching a limited source.  The only limited source I know of is the Devil himself.  He is certainly limited, for the Book tells us in no uncertain terms that he shall have an end.  He is a finite quantity.  The Book promises a happy ending to man’s story.  It promises good shall always prevail.”

“Then we are taking a meal at the Devil’s table instead of God’s,” observed Gilly.

“However,” reasoned Cuddy, “even our Lord was taken into the wilderness for a span of time with the Devil.  This may be our wilderness—a trial period to test our adherence to proper thinking in the face of tremendous challenges to that thinking.” 

“Or,” hesitated Gilly, “perhaps it is like initial military training.  The training is cruel and denies much that our dear mother taught, but its purpose is to teach man proficiency, speed, and accurateness of action in order to preserve personal life and a nation’s life under duress.  There’s a fine worth there even though not initially seen.”

 “Daniel served the king when he was done with his education.  Perhaps because these young men must serve the king, the university acts like a mental boot camp with the end desire that successful completion will produce mental warriors with broad thinking abilities who will not buckle under stress and foreign ideas.  When attacked, they will press forward solving problems as they arise.”

“Perhaps so,” replied Gilly.  “At any rate, this is where our Lord has placed us and we’d best be attending to our business.”  As the boys turned in their beds, Gilly said, “Man is one-directional in his thinking, isn’t he?”

“How so?” mumbled Cuddy sleepily.

“The answers man seeks to his questions are either yes or no.  He never sees that the answer can be yes nearly all the time for every question asked.”

“How do ye mean?”

“Did ye notice this evening that the Professor gave only two choices to his questions—that of yes and that of no.  I was thinking that those weren’t the only two choices in the reality of the matter.  There are always more choices than that.  It’s rather like telling two children, one of them can have the candy and the other can’t when in reality both of them can have it if they share it.”

Cuddy mumbled, “By only giving two choices, he can direct the conversation to go where he wishes it to go, Gilly.  It’s an old trader’s trick used to ensure the outcome of the sale.  I’m surprised ye were forgettin’ it.”  His voice trailed away and he fell asleep to dream of long days cooking stew and serving endless lines of young, tired, starving men on university grounds.

And, the brothers prospered.  By mid-semester, they had saved enough coin for both their classes and their books for the coming semester and had become so popular in serving the students that they considered purchase of a second cart to locate on the far side of the campus.

“If we get too involved in the cooking and serving, we’ll not get our lessons, Cuddy,” noted Gilly worriedly.

“Perhaps we can find another student to manage the second cart and then our only increase in work load would be buying twice as many supplies at a time and delivering the supplies to the other cart.”

“Which of the nobles’ sons would work in our cart?” fretted Gilly.

Cuddy laughed.  “There’s more than nobles’ sons attending university.  For free room and board, such ones would be glad to manage a cart.”

Beginning Spring holiday, the boys began scouring Dublin for a cart similar to their tinker’s cart and finally found a sheepherder’s wagon sitting in a stable at the southern end of town.  They spent the week painting, cleaning, and fitting it for cooking large pots of stew.  By mid-week of the second half of the semester, they had a young fellow from the southern shores watching the bubbling stews and studying his books between the customers during the day.  Within a few weeks, the young man was complaining of his workload.

“You need a third wagon for the western side of the campus.  Some of the students are complaining for the walk from one side of the green to the other for their lunches.”

So, the boys found themselves purchasing a third wagon for cooking and by the end of the semester had four wagons cooking stew, frying herring, and baking soda bread.  When they counted their monies at the end of the school year, they were amazed to find they were no longer standing in run down shoes.


Chapter 11

Charity

“Why, Cuddy,” whispered an amazed Gilly, “we’ve become the prosperous lads.”

“Aye, that’s the fact of it,” agreed an equally astonished Cuddy.  “It seems the Father got into all our produce and made right ample of a little.”

“Then we’re in need of tithing a bit of it as a proper thank you for our prospering.”

“An’ where would ye have a mind to be doing that?”

“The orphanage—the one down by the waterfront—the one where the children play in the dirt with no grass or flowers anywhere.”

“Ye’ve a mind to plant them grass and flowers?”

“I’m thinkin’ they would appreciate a bowl of stew laced with meat more than the grass and flowers,” laughed Gilly.  “First things first.  But, if the Father continues to bless us—grass, flowers, and trees for their spirit and well-being.”

“Then, we’ll go today and get such business as that done.”

Soon they were sitting in the orphanage’s small, rather shabby office in front of a disheveled, ill-kempt woman of furtive and speculating eye.

“So, we’re wishin’ to buy the children meat for their stew each day,” finished Cuddy.

“It would be better if you left the cash, Sir.  We’ve many needs here at the orphanage,” the woman replied.  “Sometimes, meat is the least of them.”

“I would leave the cash, but ’tis not a great amount at present and I’m believing the meat will go farther than the money.  Whatever funds you have budgeted for the children’s meat can then be used for the other needs of which you spoke.”

The woman seemed to narrow her eyes slightly before saying with a particularly bright smile, “I’ve a meat vendor.  Let me get my wrap and we’ll make the arrangements today.”

McGillvery and McGillicuddy dutifully followed her to a dilapidated meat market located at the very farthermost part of town.  She entered the establishment with familiarity and called loudly for a man named John.  He came from the back of the building, wiping bloodstained hands on a well used apron.

The smallish woman nodded curtly toward McGillvery and McGillicuddy.  “They’ve money to spend for the children’s meat.”

“How much?” he said.

“Enough to buy their meat for a year,” replied McGillvery.

The man nodded, “In advance for the year.”

“Nay,” disagreed Cuddy, “in advance for the week.  You deliver wrapped and bagged every weekday, early morning.  We’ll pay for the daily delivery.  The funds will be deposited at the money house and you may receive your monies for your week’s work there at the end of each week.”

John looked at the orphanage’s housemother as if questioning how he should answer.  She seemed to return the look steadily without expression.  John nodded toward the boys in agreement with their offer.

McGillicuddy said, “The best meat.  We’ve need of strengthening the little ones.”

“I know my business,” replied the man shortly.

McGillicuddy handed the first week’s payment to the meat cutter and the brothers left.

“Not such a clean place,” remarked Gilly.

Cuddy looked worriedly over his shoulder.  “I should have picked another place than that to do my business.  There’s a yard up the street that has fine animals in it.”

“The woman may have been buying her meat here for many years.  It’s best to honor old arrangements,” replied Gilly carefully.  “’Tis usually the best business policy.”

“Aye,” agreed Cuddy more relieved, “and we’ve taken care of our tithing by helping those unable to help themselves.”

After a brief stop to set up the meat funding at the money house, the boys continued on their way home making cheerful plans as those with proper funding are able to do.

“Do you realize we’ve made enough gold that we can choose to stay at Maid’s Club and pay the annual fee ourselves?”

“And enough to be served more than the one meal a day we were allowed.”

Gilly grinned sheepishly, “In truth, I’m enjoying our Irish stew and I’m not truly averse to returning to our tinker’s wagon for evening board.”

“And me neither,” admitted Cuddy.  “But, at Maid’s Club we’re learning ways we cannot learn by staying in our tinker’s wagon.”

“Sometimes I’m thinking we’re fishing in shallow waters, Cuddy.  Every time I watch the young lads fastidiously trimming their steaks, I can’t help seeing the orphans at the waterfront who would readily suck down the gristle of the young lad’s steak if given half a chance at it.”

“Everyone likes the best of the bite, Gilly.  Even the orphans would trim their meat if there ever was enough of it to trim.  It’s the way of all men.  The Father trains us to prefer the best in taste and in beauty by the things He provides us in nature—the savor of fresh peach, the aroma of the rose, the beauty of a young child’s face.  It is natural to endeavor to take the best and discard the rest.  The fact is we’ve a work to do with our education, Gilly, and we’ll be less offensive in the house of a king if we’ve acquired some of the better ways of the young gentlemen.  Staying at Maid’s Club is the best we can do to acquire some of those manners seeing how the university does not provide courses in proper speech and deportment.”

“They don’t provide those courses, Cuddy, because they expected such things to have come from the home rearing.”

“We had good things from our rearing, Gilly—just not those particular effects.  We’re more like the natural children who’ve been raised on a lifetime safari—without the servants.”  He brightened and said, “Do you realize that we’ve finally acquired the funds to afford the tailor, Charbon; the shoes of O’Malley; and Madam LeRoux’s care of our hair, face, hands and feet?  Do you think we should finally take care of those items?”  

Gilly looked down at his department shoes from the last semester.  “I would dearly love to see O’Malley first.”

“Then, O’Malley’s it shall be,” replied Cuddy quite grandly.

The boys walked the small distance to O’Malley’s unpretentious shop, entered, and sat waiting for service.  No one appeared for a great long while.  Finally a young woman passing hurriedly through doors at the back of the shop, stopped in great surprise at seeing the Brothers.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.  I didn’t know we had an appointment this afternoon.  Have you been waiting long?  I apologize.  Please forgive us.  Wait, I’ll get Father and call Mary to serve you rolls and tea.  Are you comfortable?  We’ve other rooms for seating if you’d prefer.  In fact, I know you would favor a fire and a window.  Please follow me to the Gold Room.  It is ever so much more pleasant than the entryway.”

The brothers followed the quick talking young lady into a high ceiling room richly decorated with gilded vases, three-legged cherry wood tables, and ornately carved mirrors liberally gilded in the rococo style of a bygone era.  A small fire radiated comfortingly underneath a green-hued, Italian-marble mantelpiece whose shelf barely seemed large enough to accommodate myriads of Danish crystal figurines and one tall, thin French Queen’s clock inscribed with hundreds of tiny fleur-de-lis around its brass base.  Deeply sculpted tapestries, gracefully looped back and secured to small golden lion’s heads, framed large, bow windows offering heavenly views of late spring’s peonies whose majestic deep purple and light pink heads were graciously bowing toward emerald-green borders of neatly clipped grass.  This small refuge was sequestered from the street’s rude traffic by a sedate, gray, head-high, stone wall topped with the frothing laciness of pink flowering cherry trees against the backdrop of a perfectly blue sky.  After graciously seating the boys, the rapidly moving young woman left the room allowing entrance of an older, methodically moving serving woman—her silver tray mounded with hot bread, jams, butter, and a china teapot encrusted with sprays of porcelain roses and flitting bluebirds.

“There, now,” she said hospitably, while setting matching teacups and saucers within easy reach of the two brothers.  “I’ve also sweet cakes which will be brought along promptly.”

After the serving woman had left the room, Gilly looked toward Cuddy and asked in a most astonished manner, “Did ye ever see such a thing?”

“Nay,” replied Cuddy, equally astounded.

“When we were shopping in the department stores, we were watched to prevent stealing and here we’re given the run of the house and served like a king.  Why?  Why would there be such a difference in treatment?”

“I’m not knowin’, but,” replied Cuddy, reaching for the teapot, “I’m not complaining and I’m going to rigorously enjoy buying shoes at O’Malley’s.”

A little later another young woman came with two small foot tubs, washing salts, and scented oil.  She removed the brother’s shoes, washed and groomed their feet, oiled them, and placed them within the comforting warmth of sheepskin slippers.  She smiled and finished her duties by saying, “Mr. O’Malley wishes you to look at his book and choose the type of shoe you desire him to manufacture.  He apologizes for your wait.  These are the leathers he works with,” she said, handing a small, padded book of leather swatches to the brothers.  “He will send his young man to measure and examine your feet in a few short moments.”

After the girl had left, Cuddy said quietly, “What a pleasure this is.  We’ve been treated well, Gilly.”

“Aye, this is the way it should be for all men.”

The brothers chose more than a few of the sturdier leathers and quite a few styles of shoe, allowed their feet measurement, and made arrangements to return in two weeks for the final products.

The young man said, “Mr. O’Malley makes plaster casts for returning customers so that he can make shoes for them no matter where they may be traveling in the world.  We would be pleased to serve you for all your life’s needs and guarantee that our shoes will never be uncomfortable nor show signs of severe wear for the first year of use.”

The boys nodded happily, submitted their feet to plaster casts, and left the shop feeling as if all was very right in their world.

“Shall we make an appointment with Madam LeRoux and Charbon for a room visit?  It would not do to have the shoes and not the clothing.”

Cuddy’s face, aglow from having received the gentleman’s gracious treatment, nodded affirmatively.

Several days later, Madam LeRoux was cooing over the boy’s hands, face, and hair.

“Ahhh!  After your expeditions, it takes me months to put you into proper order again.  Look at these hands!  The nails!  How do you expect to dance with the young ladies with hands such as these?”  She clipped, oiled, pressed, kneaded, pulled, tweezed, and rubbed the brothers into a semblance of being the better groomed young chaps and left with the boy’s promise that she would see them again in one week.  “Every week for two months—that is what it will take to smooth off the roughness of your voyages,” she informed them.  “You absolutely must not accept the more important invitations until I’ve finished or you shall positively be laughed from the ballroom.”

The brothers inspected themselves in the mirror after her leave.

“Do I look that badly then?” asked Gilly.

“Nay, ye’re lookin’ right handsome to me,” affirmed Cuddy.

“An’ the same with you,” returned Gilly.

“We’ve not the sharp eye she has for the grooming,” noted Cuddy.

“Aye, she’s got a particular, close eye, seems to me.”

“The same eye Schaeffer had when he told us we needed grooming.”

“Perhaps it’s an eye we’ll develop after being used to the finer things.”

“Perhaps,” admitted Cuddy.


Chapter 12

A Twist in Fortune

The next day found the brothers in the middle of Charbon’s measuring and cutting when the door to their room opened abruptly.

Schaeffer, Crowley, and another man—unfamiliar to the brothers entered.

“It’s usual to knock when entering a gentleman’s quarters,” protested Gilly.

Schaeffer walked imperiously toward McGillvery and lifted a bit of the material from the tail of the suit Charbon was fitting.

“Charbon,” said Schaeffer mockingly, “you’ve not brought such fine material even to me and you choose to dress thieves in such finery?”

McGillvery and McGillicuddy mouths fell open in shocked amazement.  “Th…th…thieves?” they stuttered in unison.

“How else could two tinkers become so prosperous all of a sudden?  Four business carts purchased in one semester, employees, capital enough to place shoes, grooming, and now the finest of clothing on backs used to nothing more than homespun woolen britches?  You’ve been an embarrassment to Maid’s Club all the year and now, typical of your class, you’ve chosen to elevate yourself by means of falsely procured monies.”

“Falsely procured monies?”

“Don’t pretend you haven’t been dipping into the Club’s treasury box all this semester!” mocked Schaeffer.  “Search their room and I think you’ll find the monies,” he ordered.

The portly man began opening and closing one drawer after another until he found the boy’s large sack of coin earned during the semester.

“Here it is,” he grunted lifting the well-sewn sack onto the bed.

“That’s our monies from the stew and bread we’ve sold to the students all the semester,” protested McGillvery.

“That may be so, but where did you get the monies to buy the carts and the ingredients for those stews?  You stole them from the Club.”

Schaeffer turned to Crowley. “Take the monies down to the office, count them, and make sure the deficit is properly refunded.  I’ll wager you’ll find just the right amount to replace the monies that have shown missing.”

“You’ll not take our hard-earned monies,” protested McGillicuddy reaching for their bag of coin.

The portly man quickly stepped between the two brothers and their bag of coin. “Back,” he commanded, “by order of law.  You are under arrest and charged with thievery for personal gain.  You’ll swing for it, I’m reckoning.”

“Charbon,” smiled Schaeffer mockingly, “I think you just lost a sale.”  He stood fingering the material hanging loosely from McGillvery’s frame.  “I may take your loss for a price if you’d care to bring the suit round next week.”

Charbon began gathering his bags, urging his tailors to pack the needles and fabrics quickly.  Meanwhile, the portly man had twisted McGillicuddy’s hands behind his back and tied them securely with McGillvery soon standing in the same manner beside his brother.  The desk clerk did not raise his eyes as the boys were ushered through the richly carved doors into the jailor’s wagon outside.  Within the hour, they were sitting in the dungeon of Dublin’s oldest gaol.

“Whatever did we do to offend our Father so mightily?” asked Gilly woefully, looking through the bars at the jailor’s retreating back.

“I’m surely not knowing.  We tithed the top of our blessings for the bottom to be receiving its blessing.”

“The bottom portion blessed itself right out of our pocket into another’s,” dryly observed Gilly.

“Perhaps our tithe was not enough,” worried Cuddy.

“The whole bag of money was His.  The Father could have had it all if He desired it,” protested Gilly.  “We wouldn’t have withheld anything from Him that He asked.  But He has always asked just the top of it.”

“Well, He must have desired it all for it is all gone,” said Cuddy sadly.

“Aye, and that’s for sure the truth,” agreed Gilly.  “But, why would He take our lives with our gold?  Have we that much error in us?  Has a fair Friend decided to turn foul?”

“Shhh!” whispered Cuddy fiercely.  “Nay, not ever!  You’re knowing better than that!  ’Tis not in His personality to play foully with man.  His friendliness is forever and He’s fair forgiving of men.  I’m thinking the accusations are not coming from Him.  He’s just watching the game.”

“Then we better be playing it well.”

“Aye.”

“A fellow could nearly go insane with such accusations being brought against his good name and with nothing to defend himself,” ruminated Gilly.

“We’re not the first accused, Gilly,” reminded Cuddy.  “Joseph was accused,  Daniel accused.  They were innocent men, as innocent as we be.  When a man’s innocent, he’s sure to have heaven’s help to skim out of impossible circumstances.  We’ll yet see salvation by our Father even though it looks most grim now.  The intrigue of men is never blessed by our Lord.  It must have looked grim for Daniel when he was thrown into the lion’s pit—but the grimness stopped short of his life.  The life of the Lord’s men are precious in His eyes.  It’s a promise sure.”

“His Son’s life was precious in the Father’s eyes, too,” reminded Gilly fretfully, “but did not keep him from dying at men’s hands.  Are ye thinkin’ we’re more valuable than the Father’s own son?”

“Nay,” returned Cuddy, horrified.  “There was reasons for that sorry happenstance and we’ve need to remember even though he was allowed to die, he was not left moldering in the grave.”

Gilly moaned lowly.  “I was sort of hoping for a reward on this side of forever before seeing the other side of forever.”

            His brother’s eyes filled with ready moisture.  “Aye, we’ve been lookin’ for it all our life and it’s always gone every which way except beside us.”

Gilly sank to the floor and held his head in his hands.  “We just got a small start and I was so proud of our plan.  It looked like we would finally be able to raise ourselves from the poverty of the land.  I would wish death at my own hands rather than to lose everything this way—even our names.  Should we hang, we’ll not even be buried amongst the decent folks we’ve so admired and tried to emulate, Cuddy.  They’ll bury us apart in an unworthy grave.”

“An’ don’t be talkin’ that way,” urged Cuddy.  “It’s one thing to die unworthy as judged by men.  It’s of consequence, that’s to be sure.  But to take our own life is to be dishonored before men and before our Father—with a much more serious consequence coming.  We’re not dishonorable men who would give into such an act—it would be like disowning the Father’s ability to act in our behalf no matter how ill favored the situation.  His advice is always to be calm to the very last and wait on Him.  That is the far-sighted thing to do. Since when is the Father’s hand too short to save?  We have to give Him every opportunity to save us and to right this situation.  The game is never over till the heart stops beating and the breath of life stops coming.”  Cuddy stretched his hands out before him.  “I’m seeing plenty of life in these limbs and I’m not crying for death’s reprieve so soon.  I’m not aware of wrong-doing on our part against our Father.  So, we’re suffering for another’s error and the Father is allowing it.  The question is: whose error?”

“It could be anyone from the desk clerk to Shaeffer himself,” replied Gilly.

“’Twill be hard to prove sitting as we are in this dungeon.”

“We’re needin’ a flesh and blood friend to help us.”

“Pray for the Father’s help and perhaps He’ll send us just the right friend for our needs.”

The two brothers spent the next several days in diligent prayer for supernatural help to relieve themselves of their distressful circumstances and on the third week the door to their prison was opened and the keeper called roughly, “Come out, McGillvery and McGillicuddy.”

The brothers scrambled to their feet and immediately stumbled toward the light pouring around and about the bulk of a man standing in the middle of the prison door.  They stood patiently while their hands and feet were bound and they followed the jailor from foul-smelling, darkened caverns far below the street into the sweet-smelling, light-filled world above the streets.  The jailor wound along several narrow alleyways finally arriving at the inside of a dingy, poorly lit building ruled by long hallways broken by interminable lines of cracked, aging, wooden doors.  At the tenth door to the right of a nondescript wooden stairway leading into darkened heights, the gaol keeper knocked briskly.

“Come in.”

He opened the door and said, “The two thieves.”  He motioned for McGillvery and McGillicuddy to enter and shut the door behind them.  A young man, seated with his back to them, quietly finished a small note to himself.  He turned round and said, “Well, now, you’ve gotten yourselves into a bit of trouble, I see.  The new semester has started and the campus is quite full of disgruntled students looking for their bread and stew wagons.”

“Sean!” said McGillvery.  “Sean Connor!  An’ what would a reader of books be doing in a place like this?”

“I read the law books, McGillvery, and I’m performing for Schenectady & Sons as an apprentice lawyer this semester.”

“I’m not sure what that means.”

“It means I am your legal representation in Maids Club’s complaint against you.”

“You’re the one to help us, then.”

“I hope I can help you,” he said.  “Somehow I never took you to be thieves.”

“Nay, not thieves and never thieves,” protested McGillicuddy.  “It would be a crime against our heavenly Father’s good name as a competent provider to steal from others to enrich ourselves.”

“Then how are you explaining the tremendous amount of coin found in your rooms?”

“Honest wages from our wagons,” replied Gilly truthfully.

“I remember the one wagon you had at Earl Donogough’s.  Where did you get the other three wagons?”

“We purchased them with the monies from our stews.”

“That’s the problem.  No one will believe you could possibly have prospered so as to have quadrupled your assets in addition to having procured a sizable bag of coin in such a short time.  It just doesn’t happen.  In a short few weeks you went from paupers to the gentlemen able to purchase shoes at O’Malley’s.  It’s not the usual happenstance.”

“The Father of us all wishes his own to prosper and He prospered us according to his wishes,” earnestly replied Gilly.

“I don’t think the judge will accept that as reason for your unaccountable prosperity.  We’ll have to do some better than that.  So, I’ll ask you the next logical question: if you didn’t take the monies from Maid’s Club, who do you think did?”

McGillvery’s face fell.  “We’ve talked about it for many a day now and have come to no conclusion.  Anyone could have stolen the monies—from the desk clerk to Schaeffer himself.  But…,” Gilly hesitated.

“But, what?” asked Connor quickly.

“We’re not wanting to accuse.  But our mother always said when someone points a finger at you there’s three fingers pointing back at them.  It’s Schaeffer accused us.  If our mum was right, it may be Schaeffer himself who removed the funds and besmirched our name to keep his own.”

Sean Connor leaned back in his chair and pressed the fingers of his hands together while thinking for a bit.  “Do you know anything about Schaeffer—his tastes, his daily habits?”

“Nay.  He listens to the other young fellows talk and directs the conversation at table, but rarely has he ever told a story of his own.  Come to think of it,” added McGillicuddy, “there’s no stall in the stable bearing his name for his own mounts like most of the other young men.” 

Cuddy turned to Gilly with sudden realization, “Now, that’s odd, isn’t it?  Even Crowley has his name in the stable.”

“Have you ever seen him playing the games?” asked Gilly.

“Nay, I’ve only seen him at dining table.”

“Then we’ll start there,” replied Connor.  “I can arrange for your release; however, I’m afraid all your assets have been confiscated and you’ll not have room or board.  It may actually be to your benefit to stay in gaol.  It may not be comfortable, but at least provides a roof over your head and something to eat.”

McGillicuddy flushed redly before saying, “Freedom and starvation is better than prison and plenty.”

Connor laughed heartily.  “There’s not an Irishman alive who wouldn’t have said the same,” he grinned, while pushing his chair back from the table and standing.  “All right, boys.  The papers will be ready by tomorrow.”


Chapter 13

The Bottom of Things

Precisely at one o’clock in the afternoon of the next day the gaolkeeper released McGillvery and McGillicuddy with orders to report daily to the office of Sean Connor.  As they were turning to leave, Gilly asked, “We were havin’ our mum’s book in our father’s tinker’s wagon.  Is there bein’ a small chance we could be retrieving the Book for reading?”

The keeper shook his head.  “Everything’s been impounded waiting for auction.”

On the street, Gilly said, “What shall we do without our Book?”

Cuddy replied glumly, “We shall follow the principles the best we know how and rely on the Father to act in our behalf.  His friendship is not based upon possession or non-possession of the Book.  There are those who never read the Book who had His help all their lives.  Remember the verse about Cyrus?  You’re well-knowing he didn’t read the Book, yet the promise was that the Father would be buckling his very belt without him knowing it.  If He could act for a non-reader in such a manner as that, what could He do for those schooled in the reading of His words?  Faith, Gilly,” encouraged Cuddy firmly, “and courage.  Those who fear the Father have confidence in the Father.  We’re to put on the bold face and the bold actions that He is more than with us.  One of the things He guards his own from is the scourge of tongues.  We’ve been scourged and unjustly accused.  We just need to believe that the Father is more than capable of handling this little upset in our affairs.”

 “We’re back to nothing but lint in our pocket,” noted Gilly.

“And, an empty stomach.”

“An’ not even the comfort of our tinker’s wagon.”

“It’s to rain this evening sure,” observed Cuddy, looking at the sky.

“We can sleep in the lane where we kept our wagon,” suggested Gilly.

“And be soaked through under the trees.”

“We could sleep in the library at the university.”

“And be thrown out early in the morning by the cleaning man.”

“Ye’re not being a very helpful lad,” observed Gilly.

“An’ ye haven’t delivered a very decent solution to our present predicament.”

“An’ it’s a little hard to find a respectable solution when there’s not anything in the pockets.”

Cuddy pursed his lips and looked at the sky.  “I’m wondering where our mum’s Book is.  We could sorely use its good advice right now.”

Gilly’s shoulders slumped dejectedly.  “Now, we’re the poor of the poor.  We finally made it to the bottom-most rung.”

“I heard a man tell once that the reaching of the bottom-most rung is good news,” remarked Cuddy.

Gilly looked sourly at his brother.

“It’s good news because there’s no further down a fellow can be dropping than the bottom-most rung.”

“It also means it’s an uphill climb all the way to the top of the ladder again,” grumbled Gilly.

“Just a few hours ago we were in a prison,” chided Cuddy.  “Now we’re free and complaining because of a little rain coming our way.  We really should be rejoicing before our Lord for having sprung the locks on our prison and the sending of Sean Connor to help us in the matter of our accusation.  In truth, it’s a grand way things are working for us.”

“We’ve still need of lodging for the night.”

“Let’s walk and perhaps we’ll find a place free and dry.  I’m wondering about Belle and Shade.  Do ye suppose they left them in the care of the Maid’s Club stableman?  I’m that much worrying about their comfort and hoping they’re well fed this evening.”

“I’m wishing I had the courage to go see.”

“There’s a difference between courage and imprudence, Gilly.”

The boys had wandered toward the wharves and Cuddy looked up to see the orphanage in front of them.  “Gilly,” he said, “there’s the children playing out today.  And what’s this by the fence?  A little red-haired laddie sitting by himself instead of playing with the others.  And, laddie,” he asked, going nearer the fence, “why aren’t ye playing today?”

“Because I’m hungry.”

 “A big laddie like you should be having a fine meat stew every day,” said Gilly concernedly.

“There’s never no meat here,” said the boy sadly.  “Cornmeal mush and sometimes wheat mush, but not often that.”

Cuddy looked closer at the little fellow and said, “Gilly, remember the camp where we watched the children play their hide and search game, isn’t this the same spirited lad who found all the children one by one, even the little brown haired lassie who was so wise in her hiding?”

Gilly bent down and stared steadily through the fence, “I believe ’e’s the same one.”  He addressed the lad directly, “Are ye havin’ a wee friend, a little brown-haired lassie, who came here on a wagon with you about a year ago?”

“Pedra?  She got fearsome cold this winter.”

“Cold?”

“She got real cold, Mister, and couldn’t get warm anymore.”

McGillvery and McGillicuddy shivered unexpectedly, stood, and surveyed the yard.  “For sure, the children aren’t very brisk, are they?  They’re moping around without a great deal of energy.”

“Laddie,” asked Gilly, bending eyelevel with the child.  “Are ye sure now ye’ve had no meat?  I’m knowing for certain the lady of this house made a quick bargain for you to have meat delivered every day for your feeding.”

“Nay, Sir.  Nary a bite of meat in that house.”

Gilly reached deep into his empty pockets.  “There’s nothing emptier than a pocket when there’s a need,” he said fretfully.

They walked a bit away from the fence.  Cuddy said, “I’m wondering how the butcher’s sleeping at night, Gilly?”

“With our money in his bank and the children’s meat in his belly?  Probably quite well,” replied Gilly.

“We can put a stop to his liberal draws on our funds today.”

“Aye, that we can.”

“That still doesn’t put food on the small children’s plate.”

“We’ll figure that out as we go.”

The boys hurried to the money house where they had deposited the year’s meat monies in trust for the orphanage, retrieved the funds, and stopped the order for the weekly draws by the butcher.

Cuddy stopped by a sidewalk vendor and purchased a small pail of stew.  “For the little lad by the fence,” he explained to Gilly as he walked ahead the two blocks to the orphanage’s fencing.  Gilly watched as Cuddy handed the small bucket of nourishment over the tip of the iron fence.

When Cuddy returned, Gilly asked, “What are we to do now?”

“We’ve money even if from an unwelcome source.”

“Before God we’re obligated to get it back to its proper place for it was tithing monies,” worried Gilly.

“And the orphans are in sore need of it for their nourishment.”

“But, this time, we’ll choose the butcher.”

“Aye,” agreed Cuddy.  “If we had our tinker’s wagon, we could begin making the stews again and work to regain the monies.”

“Perhaps we don’t need something as elaborate as our tinker’s wagon,” suggested Gilly.  “Perhaps all we need are the ingredients, a stew pot, a fire and some wood.  We could cook the stews at night in the lane in the woods.  If we made small fire pits lined with coal at the edge of the university grounds, we could keep the stews warm all day for the students.  A small tarp in the woods could serve as our shelter and a small tarp over the pits just off campus would keep the stews clean and dry during the fall rains.  If we raised a large enough tarp, the students could stand underneath its cover and stay dry while they ate from their pails.  It’s summer yet.  Perhaps by fall we would have been able to raise enough monies to free our tinker’s cart and the other three carts from the impound yard.”

“Then we’d be back in business again.”

“I’m not knowing many lads who would go back into business knowing they’re most likely to hang as thieves a few weeks later,” chided Gilly.

“We have to live between now and then,” reasoned Cuddy.  “Besides, we’re not the only ones to be thinking about.  We’re needin’ to leave a little stew left over at the end of each day for takin’ to the orphanage to feed the wee ones.”

“The old woman would sell it out front of their home from a vendor’s cart before she’d let the orphans get the nourishment from it.”

“We’ll feed them through the fence,” said Cuddy defiantly.

“It’s a plan,” admitted Gilly, smiling a bit.

“A plan the wee ones would be admiring, I’m sure.”

“Well, then, seems we need to buy a pot, some meat, vegetables, and a tarp. Perhaps a bedroll?”

Cuddy grimaced, fingering the slight coin in his pocket.  “Perhaps we’d best see how things go for the stews before depleting our funds for the luxuries.”

By late afternoon the brothers had tarps tied to their backs, a hand on each side of the largest stew pot in Dublin filled to the brim with meats and potatoes, small pails and scoops, and their free hands carrying small bags of coal and one small shovel.  The smallest tarp was mounted between trees in the woods.  All the night simmered a good, thick stew.  Before daylight hours, Cuddy dug a shallow pit just outside university grounds, lined it with coal, and, between a stand of trees, raised the larger tarp over the pit.  Then, he and Gilly transported the very large pot of stew to the simmering coal pit and began calling at the tops of their voices for students to buy good, hot stew.  Toward mid-afternoon they had sold nearly all their stew while deliberately saving the last third at the bottom of the kettle for the orphans.  They lugged the pot between them to the town fountain where they diligently washed the pails and scoops and then carried the left-over meat rich stew to the playground where children eagerly lined the fence for the well-filled pails and scoops handed them out of sight of the main house.  After a half hour, the empty pot, pails, and scoops were once again carried to the city fountain for cleansing, filled with newly purchased raw meat and vegetables, and once again transported to the woods where the stew simmered all the night to be resold the next day. 

“We could be selling four pots of stew per day if we had transport for them,” noted Gilly wistfully.

Cuddy counted the monies carefully.  “We’re a long way from buying transport,” he said.

“Could we rent transport until we could afford to buy it?” asked Gilly.

“Possibly,” returned Cuddy and then brightened some.  “All we’re needin’ is a little, one-wheeled cart large enough for packing four stew pots.  Such a contraption would rent or buy considerably cheaper than a wagon.”

“We could check the stables.”

“Or the markets.  Delivery boys often use such carts.”

After selling their stew, feeding the orphans, and performing their daily appearance before Sean Connor, the boys began scouring Dublin for a one-wheeled cart.  With no luck by evening, they once again purchased meat and vegetables and returned to the woods to cook their pot of stew for the morrow.  Every day proceeded the same with the stew being sold out earlier each day.

Then came the day when the pot of stew was sold, except for the orphan’s share, by mid-morning.  Despite a rather long line of students waiting for their meal, Gilly placed the lid over the bottom third of the stew and began to close their camp.

“Here now,” objected a large, brown-haired student angrily.  “I’m starving and the pot isn’t quite empty.  Place me a full pail of the stew.  I’ve stood in line this long and I’ll not have you keeping me from my lunch.”

“The same for me,” said another.

“And me,” said another.

“We take the bottom third to the orphans every day,” protested Cuddy

The young man calmed a bit and said, “I do not wish to take food from orphans, but I am very hungry.  Couldn’t you feed me and use my money to buy something for the little ones?  You know how it is for the students,” he pleaded, “no time and always needing the food.”

Compassionately, McGillvery quickly removed the lid from the large pot and said, “Yes, we do know how it is for students.  Line up and we’ll feed you until the pot is empty.” 

After the last student had gone his way, Gilly turned to look at his brother.  “It’s not even ten o’clock and the stew’s gone.  The rest of the students will be going without their lunches.  They’re counting on us, Cuddy.  They’ll not walk this way any longer for their stews if they cannot rely on a full meal from us each and every day.”

“Then we’ll let sleep flee from our eyes and we’ll work round the clock.  We’ll purchase four kettles today and we’ll carry them one by one to the woods and one by one full to four coal pits and one by one to the orphanage every day.  We will walk and we will work and we will prosper despite everything, Gilly,” asserted Cuddy in his most heartening manner.

“In all of this, our education has quite gone by the wayside, hasn’t it?”

“It’s not over yet,” replied Cuddy firmly.  “’Tis but a temporary trial we’re needin’ to overcome.”

“And what are we to do about feedin’ the orphans today?”

“We’ll go to the vendor down from the orphanage and buy his whole cart of goods for the children.  He has the potatoes baked and pieces of spiced meat.  It will feed the children well today and give them a break from the sameness of the stew.  Then, we’ve need to buy our supplies and busy ourselves for the next morning’s business.”

The vending man wheeled his cart to the orphanage grounds and doled out hot wrapped potatoes and spicy meat to each child crowding the fence.  Gilly handed two pails of creamy milk over the fence and watched in satisfaction as the children took turns sipping from its frothy, rich goodness.  As always, the boys took turns maintaining a watchful eye on the orphanage making sure they were well out of sight of all the windows and doors to escape notice of the Madam.

Cuddy’s turn at watch provoked a sudden poke into Gilly’s ribs.  “Look there, who’s that going in the back way of the orphanage?”

Gilly raised his head quickly to just glimpse a familiar figure disappearing behind a small stand of trees near the back door.  “Why,” he said in surprise, “it looks like Schaeffer.”

“What would he be doing at the orphanage?”

“Certainly not contributing to the wee ones’ welfare,” said Cuddy wryly.

Gilly knelt quickly by the side of the fence and asked the red-haired lad, “Lad, turn and look at the man going by the back way into the orphanage.  Can ye tell me the name of that young fellow?”

“I don’t know his name,” replied the boy around his mouthful of potato.  “I’ve seen him come at night, but mostly after everyone is asleep.”

That night, Cuddy dug three more coal pits and Gilly cut and peeled three times as many vegetables and their camp in the woods saw four kettles bubbling through the night.  The brothers rose much earlier than usual and carried, one by one, four kettles of stew to the coal pits, set the pits ablaze and stood stirring and waiting for the students.  At the end of the day, Gilly carefully placed the lid on top of half a pot of stew for the orphans.

“We can tie the pots filled with the pails and scoops two each on our back for the trip to town,” he suggested.

“We’ve need of hurrying,” replied Cuddy.  “We’ve still need to sign in with Connor, wash the tins, feed the orphans, and purchase supplies for transporting for the morrow.”

“The sacks of monies are beginning to grow,” noted Gilly. 

Cuddy smiled readily.  “We’ve the blessing sure enough.  We’re just needin’ a little cart to wheel our blessings around in.”

Each boy took hold of the half kettle of stew and headed for the village fountain with the rest of the kettles tied to their backs.  When all their chores were done, they made their way to the market for purchasing more food.  The grocer looked at the kettles tied to their backs and said, “You’ve need of a little one-wheeled cart and a boy to push it for you.”

“Aye, that we are,” admitted Cuddy setting the kettles to the floor.

“The orphans are let to work every day.  There’s a fine red-headed lad who works for me from time to time.  Why don’t you hire him and my cart for wheeling your supplies?”

The two Brothers exchanged glances.  “I’m not knowin’ any orphan large enough to push a cart loaded with four kettles of meat and vegetables for the distance we go every day,” replied Gilly.  “But we certainly could use a one-wheeled cart.”

“They’re stronger than they look,” replied the grocer, referring to the orphans.

“What is the daily charge for the lad and your cart?” asked Cuddy.

“Two halfpenny per day with the understanding that you’ll purchase this amount from my grocery every day.”

“Is the lad available today?”

“I’ll have the orphanage send him tomorrow.  He’ll be waiting for you.”

“It seems the lad should be studying his letters instead of working for his keep,” objected Gilly.

“Why?”  asked the man.  “He’s an orphan.  He’ll have little chance of living to be old enough to marry.  No sense wasting reading and writing on him.”

On the tomorrow, the red-haired boy was waiting in front of the grocer’s store.  He waited while Gilly and Cuddy loaded the cart with supplies, manfully endeavored to lift the handles of the cart, and nearly spilled the contents to the ground.  The grocer ran to the front porch to scold.  Gilly held finger to lips and shook his head at the grocer.

“Here, lad.  When the load is particularly cumbersome, ’tis best with these carts to be pulling rather than pushing.  You never see a horse pushing, now do ye?  There’s a reason for that.  Pulling is easier.  Watch me and you’ll get the hang of it soon.”  Gilly backed between the handles of the cart and pawed the ground a bit with one foot and neighed like a smart pony.  The lad smiled a little and watched as Gilly pulled the cart away from the grocer’s.

“There now,” he said.  “You try it.”

The boy backed between the handles and with great effort managed to move the cart away from the store and around the corner.

As soon as they were out of sight of the grocer, Gilly said, “There now.  That’s quite enough.  We were really not needing a boy to pull our cart.  I think I saved a pail of stew somewhere here.  Let’s see.  Ahhh!  Two pails.  Is there a boy here who can eat two pails of stew?”

The boy nodded and McGillicuddy said, “Then up on top of the load and you can ride and eat.”

“But I am to help you with the cart,” reminded the boy.

“Don’t tell the grocer, son.  We needed the cart, not a puller.  But, we’ll have you help us peel the vegetables and you’ll get a meal, too, before we bring the cart back this evening.  That way you can tell him honestly you worked for your pay.”

“Oh, we don’t get paid,” said the boy.  “The orphanage gets paid.  They use the monies to buy our food and our clothing.”

Cuddy looked at the shoeless boy beside him and the raggedy trousers nearly falling from too thin hips.  “Do all the children work?  Or is it just you, for your manly attitude?”

“Nay, not just me.  All the children work if they can walk.  The girls do the sewing and washing and mending for the ladies in town and the boys do milking, shoveling, carrying, and errands for the shops in town.”

“And what are ye doing on the Sabbath?”

“We work the seven days a week,” said the boy.

“The townspeople are people working you on the Sabbath, too?”  asked Gilly sharply.

“The larger houses need cooking, cleaning, and carrying done for their Sabbath dinners.”

“Right now,” replied Gilly firmly, “it’s time for your dinner.  Up you go,” he said and hoisted the young lad to the top of the loaded cart.

That evening Gilly stayed to prepare the next day’s food while Cuddy wheeled the cart back to town with the young fellow riding, stopping just around the corner from the grocery to allow the boy to wheel the cart alone to the store. 

“We’ll be seein’ you tomorrow,” he waved.

“Will there be stew tomorrow?” asked the boy.

“Two pails full,” promised Cuddy.

He fell into a brisk walk home soon catching and passing another lone walker in the darkness.

“McGillicuddy!” called the man after him.

            Recognizing the voice Cuddy turned, laughed, and said, “I should have looked closer at the man I was out-walking.  How are ye, Sean Connor?”

            “I’m puzzling over you,” he said mildly.  “Walking and puzzling this evening over two brothers.”

            “How so?” asked Cuddy in surprise while slowing his walk to fall into step with the young lawyer.

            “I have had word that you are back in business and prospering again.  A friend of mine says he buys his noon meal from you every day.  I’m wondering how two fellows with no worldly resources have managed to begin anew in business and to increase that business into a going enterprise that will soon rival that which they lost just a bare few weeks ago.”

            Cuddy stopped along the road, put a gentle hand on Sean’s arm, and asked sincerely, “Do ye truly yearn to know the secret, Sean?”

            “Yes,” he replied earnestly, “I truly, deeply desire to know the secret.”

            “Then, here it is—the absolute bold truth with none held back.”  McGillicuddy took a deep breath and said, “All the gold and silver in the world belong to the Father.  A fellow has to realize that fact first and then he’s got to ask himself how the Father may be sharing a little of His unlimited supply with a common, ordinary fellow.  Then, making friends with the Father just naturally leads to a prospering and well-being of everything a fellow touches.  It’s just that simple, Sean.”

            “But if that is true, why weren’t you and your brother in a more prosperous condition when I first met you?”

            “Well, we weren’t entirely understanding the way of it then,” replied Cuddy.  “We had just got onto the secret and hadn’t really had a chance to see how well it worked until we got to Dublin Town.”

            “Do you know what I know?” asked Sean.

            “What do you know?”

            “When I was walking along this road, before you caught me, I was reflecting that if it were not for the pending court case, in a short time, you and your brother would somehow manage to regain all your wagons and there would never be a ceiling on your achievements.”

            “Aye,” affirmed Cuddy.  “That’s the truth of it for sure.  The Father makes every little thing work out for a fellow’s good.  And don’t be worrying about the court case, either.  It will work out just that well.”

            “Well, actually,” hesitated Sean with a small downturn at the corners of his mouth, “I was coming to see you both this evening.  The case isn’t working out as well as I had hoped.  I have not had the time or the funds to pursue some of the questions I have about Schaeffer.  The date has been set for your court appearance—sooner than I expected—next Friday, but I have not gathered anything substantial enough to properly defend you against Schaeffer’s charges.”

“You’re thinking we’re to be found guilty and hang?”

“Some persons would jump bail and flee to England under circumstances less grave than these.”

            “But we’re innocent and in no need of running like a guilty man,” stated Cuddy firmly.

            “I feel you are innocent,” returned Connor.  “But it’s not feelings, my friend, that free the accused.”

            “Aye,” agreed Cuddy.  “My brother and I understand the way of it.  We’re not the fools to think that a sweet smile will keep one out of prison.  Well, then,” he shook his head sadly, “I’m thanking ye for making the trip to tell us the facts of the matter.  You could have let us find them out in front of the court.  Ye’ve showed yourself a good friend tonight.”  He looked Sean squarely in the eye and held out a hand in thanks.

            Sean returned the offer with a warm, firm handshake and said, “I wish I had softer words to bring you.  Good luck and may your God, who prospers your hand, help you both.”

            Cuddy continued the last leg of his journey thinking that one must never put their trust in the help of another.  “It’s only the Lord, not encumbered with the circumstances of man, who can truly help an honest fellow.  And it’s You,” he said earnestly, while looking toward the heavens, “it’s You I’m putting all my trust in this day and the day after that.  You know, Father, we’re good lads and the orphans and the students are depending on us.  It would be a shame for two men of your good acquaintance to perish off the earth when they’re so willing to do good for others.  There’s plenty others living who are not as generous hearted as we be.  Seems You could be preserving us just a little longer, if not for our sakes, then for the sakes of all those needin’ your care through our willing and generous hands.”

            It was with a tired and weary heart that Cuddy walked into the welcoming smells of onion and garlic as it mixed with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, barley, and boiling mutton in their camp in the woods.

            “There’s nothing more we can be doing,” responded Gilly after hearing Cuddy’s rendition of the conversation between himself and Connor.  “I’m knowing ye’re concerned, Cuddy; but, in truth, it’s in the Lord’s hands now.”

            “In the face of hanging, I’m thinking we need to put a little more effort into preserving our lives,” pointedly retorted Cuddy.

            “Well,” suggested Gilly, “if ye’re well bound to meddle in God’s plan, Connor’s idea of emigrating to England is not a bad one.”

            Relief at the respite his brother offered caused Cuddy to heave a deeply thankful sigh.  “We could be leaving this evening,” he hurriedly agreed.  “There’s universities and orphanages all over the world that could be served just as well as those in Ireland.”

            “But,” hesitated Gilly, “if we leave, I’ll always be remembering the red-headed lad and wondering if he made it through the next winter.  It would be different if we weren’t personally knowing the people who are depending on us; but, our charity’s got a face, Cuddy, and those faces will never fade away from our memories as long as we’re alive.”

            “If it’s reliability ye’re so worried about, let me be reminding you that if we’re hanged, we’re going to be the most unreliable men ever to have lived through all time—irresponsible to ourselves, untrustworthy to the Lord, and undependable to orphans and students all over the world who could have been helped by our good hearts.”

            Gilly chuckled mirthlessly, “Aye, that’s a mouthful of truth.”  He added quite mournfully, “I’m wishin’ we had our mum’s Book to help us with its good advice through this present dilemma.”

            “Aye, it would help a great deal in this instance to know whether we should be jumping ship or staying with the captain of our own boat.”

            “I’m not wantin’ to jump ship, Cuddy.”

            Cuddy rolled eyes of despair toward his brother.  “Here’s a time when two heads may not have been better than one.”

Gilly waited for Cuddy’s compliance.

Without looking at his brother, Cuddy finally shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nay, me neither.  I’m supposin’ it’s time we were speaking what we really do want so there’s no mistaking it on the part of the Lord.”

“Then, you start first with the words.”

“I’m wantin’ the clearance of our name and the power to change all things pertaining to the orphanage for giving the little children a chance at health and education.”

“And, were ye forgettin’ why we came to this county in the first place?”

“Nay, I wasn’t.  I should have added that we be given enough life to continue seeking the wisdom,” answered Cuddy.

“Aye, we’ve still need to get our education finished.  It’s why we came—at the urging of our Lord.”

Cuddy turned to Gilly and suddenly grinned, “It just occurred to me that the Lord has brought us all this way.  It wouldn’t be like Him to drop us to the ground like rotten apples from a tree, would it?  I mean, He brought the Wandering people out of slavery through all trials and fearsome circumstances.  When they were needin’ water, He did not let them dry out from thirst in the desert, did He?  He hadn’t carried them that far without planning on finishing His work.  We’ve been through some remarkable circumstances, Gilly, and it doesn’t make sense that the Lord wouldn’t bring to a good conclusion our affairs.  We’ve done no real wrong and we’ve maintained a position of loving kindness before all men.  We’ve relied on Him thus far and, thus far, He’s helped us.  Men might let us down at this point in time, but the Father never would do so.”

            “This is like a little test, a small proving ground, to see what two good fellows will do, isn’t it?  I’m betting He’s listening right now to our words, to see what’s in our hearts and minds.”

“I’m thinking we said all the right things, Gilly.  He shouldn’t have been too offended at our words.”

“There’s one more thing needin’ to be said,” insisted Gilly.

Cuddy grinned spontaneously and strongly stated with enormous courage, “It seems we’ve a great deal unfinished business to do here.”

            “That’s it,” beamed Gilly.  “The Father has many inscrutable ways out of misfortunes.”

“Aye, and I’m remembering that most of the Father’s men lived as long as they cared to live.  Are ye still caring to live, Brother?”

            “That I am.”

            “Well, then, what can we be doing to help ourselves between now and Friday?”

  Gilly threw his hands helplessly in the air and tensely hunched his back.  “Pray.  There’s more value in prayer than in being a canny man.  We truly believe in a force above and beyond our power…a terrible force…but, mostly a benevolent force—a force more than willing to prosper and benefit men in all their tribulations…a force willing to show the rainbow after the storm…a force willing to recompense for badness and help in the face of sadness…We’ve always believed that tapping into that force is the only mainstay for a good man…an anchor during all the vicissitudes that life brings.  If that force be with us, Cuddy, who can be against us?  And if we align ourselves with the helping part of that force then, we’ve every right to believe, to expect, to hope for a measure of all things good while we breathe and live in this sphere…so I’m all for being the positive fellow and believing that what is happening to us now is a type of processing…a type of education in itself…a type of burning off the dross to get at the real men that we are or that we could be…and if we’re not willing to be burned and suffer the refining process then we can stay as we are…worthless metal mixed with a lot of impurities from the ground…or we can become something beautiful and useful and quite good…life is like a refining furnace and a fellow’s got to go through the fire to get at the real thing—the important things…If we fail now, it will be like a metal that the fire proved dross and gross and we’ll be tossed upon the refuse heap with all the rest… but if we bear up and bear down, we’ll be proved fine, true, and worthful—and that is what we’re here for isn’t it?  To find our worth.”

The boys spent that night in diligent request for their souls while the morning stars disappeared one by one into the full break of day.


Chapter 14

Open Paths

All four of McGillvery and McGillicuddy’s kettles were sitting warming in the coal pits before the Rector entered his building at 6:05 AM.  Students had lined for their breakfast meal.  McGillicuddy and McGillvery were filling the students’ metal pails as quickly as they could when a commotion at the back of the lines caused the front of the lines to part.

The red-haired orphan, hair wet from physical exertion, stood between the handles of the one-wheeled grocer’s cart which was piled high with daily supplies.  He sat the cart down and said, “I couldn’t wait for you to come this evening because I’ve got news for you.  I know who that man is that you were asking about the other day.”

“Here, laddie,” remonstrated Cuddy in surprise at seeing the young fellow so early in the morning.  “What a manful job ye’ve just accomplished!”  He pushed the boy’s wet hair back from a freckled forehead and said, “Let’s sit that cart out of the way and get you started on a nourishing pail of morning stew.  After we’re done feedin’ the students, we’ll unpack the cart.”

When the last student had been served and fed, the brothers walked to the cart while marveling at the lad’s ability to have brought it from town alone.

“Laddie, ’tis not good for such a young one to be pulling such loads as these.”

“’Twas lighter without the stewpot and the pails,” he replied modestly.  “I was thinking perhaps you’d run out of your stew and was needing to make a new batch for the afternoon.”

Gilly smiled, “You’ll make a fine businessman someday soon.”  He picked an  empty stew pail from their supplies and handed it to the lad.  “I’m thinkin’ a boy like you could eat three pails of our stew without half trying after such a masterful piece of work.”

The boy nodded eagerly as Gilly filled the metal tin.

“So,” asked Cuddy, sitting at the edge of the loaded cart, “who is the young man we were asking about yesterday?”

“He’s the Madam’s son,” said the child.

“The Madam’s son?” repeated Cuddy, without comprehending.

“The lady who puts us out to work and furnishes our clothing and our meals.”

“The woman who manages the orphanage?”

“Aye, that one,” nodded the boy.

“And, the young man is her son?  Are ye sure of that now?”

“Aye, I watched him hug her and call her his mum and I saw something else, too.”

“What was it ye saw?”

“I saw her hand him a bag of monies.”

Gilly passed a second pail of stew to the boy.  “Show me how large the bag of monies was, Son,” he said.

The boy made a round circle with his hands.

“Whooeeee, even filled with the tiniest coin that is a goodly sum,” said Cuddy in great surprise.

“Wherever would the lady be getting that kind of money?”

“Well, we know where she was getting some of it,” replied Cuddy, nodding significantly toward the meat packages in the cart.

“And what’s happening here so that Schaeffer is living at Maid’s Club with the fine clothing and the best of the blooded lads while his mum is living in the orphanage stealing for his keep?”

The two Brothers looked at each other with raised brows.

Gilly said, “I’m not seeing how three orphanages full of children, working around the clock in London Town, would be able to keep Schaeffer in the necessary funds to stay at Maid’s Club.  ’Tis a most expensive place.”

“Aye, there’s certainly not enough orphans here, even working them the seven days a week, to support his way of life.”

“So, if a young fellow wishin’ to climb to a better place in life had a Mother who couldn’t steal enough to keep him well….”

“It might encourage him to look for funding on his own,” finished Cuddy.

“Which well explains the missing funds.”

“And why we were accused.”

“One finger pointing and three fingers pointing back at the accuser,” reminded Gilly.

“Dear Mum and her wise wisdom,” grinned Cuddy.

“Well, lad,” said Gilly, “you’ve perhaps saved two men’s lives.  What are we going to do with such a helpful lad as you?”  He raised eyebrows in Cuddy’s direction.

“Something grand if we can find ourselves in an un-accused situation,” grinned Cuddy. 

“I’ll unload the cart in the woods, Cuddy,” hurried Gilly.  “After the noon meal, we can be giving the lad a ride to town and be about seein’ Sean Connor.  He may be havin’ a suggestion on the best way to use this piece of information.”

            “We’ve only two days left before our trial,” objected Cuddy.  “Perhaps we’d best not be serving the meal and be about our business.”

            “Our business is our responsibility, Cuddy!”

            “Our lives are our responsibility, too, Gilly!”

            “I could serve the meal today,” offered the little lad quietly.

            Both brothers turned surprised eyes toward the young boy.

            “I could!” he defended himself.  “A boy who could pull the wagon all the way from the village could dish a few bowls of stew to a few students!”

            McGillvery laughed.  “I’m supposin’ that is a much easier job.  Okay, lad.  Look right sharp after the money the students hand you and we’ll share the coin with you when we come back.”

            “We’re needin’ to move, Gilly,” urged Cuddy as he retrieved his jacket from the pile of firewood behind the simmering kettles.

            “Aye, I’m well understanding the grimness of the situation,” he agreed while positioning himself between the two handles of the cart so it could be pulled back to its rightful place at the grocer’s.

            By two o’clock in the afternoon, the Brothers were sitting in Connor’s office sharing their newfound knowledge about Schaeffer’s background.

            “It’s an interesting piece of information,” he acknowledged quietly, “but it does not prove anything.”

            Gilly and Cuddy looked at Connor in surprise.  “But, it’s giving a motive, man!  Can’t ye see that for yerself?”

            “Not if his mother is providing his funds.”

            Gilly snorted.  “I’m not thinking that keepin’ Schaeffer in his clothes alone could be paid for on the backs of a hundred working orphans, let alone on the backs of the pitiful passel of wee ones such as that woman has charge of.  The man’s hobnobbing with the rich of the land as if he’s one of them.  It would take a powerful boost of funds to keep that charade going for long.”

            “It’s supposition,” said Connor.  “You need evidence.”

            Gilly and Cuddy stood at the same time.  “How can we get evidence at this late date?  You’ve given us a day before trial!  We’ve given you substantial information, man!  Enough to cause any fair minded person to doubt that we’re the only ones who could be at fault!”

Connor held his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders, “I’m sorry.  I truly am.  But you must have proof that Schaeffer is indeed the one who stole the funds in order to clear your name.”

“But, we’ve been accused on the fact that we’ve prospered in a short, unnatural amount of time…it looks the same argument except different sides of the coin,” argued Cuddy.

“First accused and not poor like the majority of men…sorry, those two things alone make a case against you.  Schaeffer would stand second accused and a poor man.”

The brothers walked through the front door and stood on the street with hands in their pockets.

            “The pockets are jingling, unlike a few weeks ago when we were standing in this same spot,” noted Cuddy, looking for something better to say than he felt inside.

            “That’s something to be thankful for,” admitted Gilly.

            “Now that we’ve counted our blessings, where do we go now?”

            “I would like to face down the old woman at the orphanage.”

            “Not the wisest choice at present.”

“We need more help.”

“There’s none here to help us.”

“Then we’re needin’ help beyond here.”

“We’ve asked and pleaded already.”

“Then we’re needin’ to ask and plead again.”

“Then we’ll walk and ask and plead in our hearts.”

So diligently were the brothers involved in their pleading thoughts that they did not notice the carriage barreling along their thoroughfare until the horses were rearing in their faces in an effort to avoid severely mangling and trampling them.

The driver angrily shouted, “Are you daft walking in the middle of the street?”  He was climbing down and reaching toward the door of the carriage.  “Are you all right, Sir?”

An elderly gentleman stepped from the carriage, straightening his hat and coat.  “Are the horses all right?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir.  I’m sure they’re quite well.”

“And what is the cause of sudden spill?  Is there anyone else injured?”

The carriage driver waved toward McGillvery and McGillicuddy.  “Just some daft lads not watching their way on the road.”

The gentleman looked reprovingly toward McGillvery and McGillicuddy.  “So, the university doesn’t teach its young men to walk properly to the side of main thoroughfares?”

“Mr. McAllistair, Sir,” fumbled McGillvery, “we’re sorry for the near spill of your belongings. We were praying over our misfortunes.”

The elderly gentleman pressed his lips firmly together.  “My son prays over his misfortunes too, but they are all of his own making.  So, are your present distresses caused by women…drink…or lack of disciplined actions in other arenas?”

“None of those, Sir.  We’re God-fearing lads.”

“God-fearing lads have rare troubles,” observed the senior McAllistair.

“These troubles involve more than just we two,” said McGillvery.  “They’re involving the orphans of Dublin Town, the reputation of Maid’s Club, and I suppose your own family name.”

The gentleman stiffened noticeably.  “The McAllistair name, as carried by me, is a spotless name before God and man.  What smirch is being spread over my reputation?”

“Sir,” interrupted McGillicuddy, “if we may ride along with you for a short distance, we will tell you the story.”

Lord McAllistair motioned the brothers to enter the carriage.  As soon as it was on its way, McGillvery began telling their tale of false accusation, arrest, prison, their findings about the orphanage and Schaeffer, Connor’s response, and their desperate prayer for help.  “It was what we were doing when the carriage nearly upset—praying diligently to the Father for help in this most grievous situation.”

The elder McAllistair looked sternly from under the brim of a stiff dress hat and said, “My driver will place you at the university so you may go about your cooking business.  I am to see Judge Rothsmer this evening.  I’ll have a word with him about the matter.”

The next day, while serving stew, McGillvery and McGillicuddy were handed a short letter stating their trial had been indefinitely postponed.  Events flew rapidly after that.  Schaeffer’s mother was taken from the orphanage, imprisoned, and replaced temporarily with a new house Mother.  Schaeffer was imprisoned for theft of Maid’s Club funds and sentenced to hang.  McGillvery and McGillicuddy were returned their carts and goods.  The butcher was imprisoned for theft of orphanage funds.  Belle and Shade were returned to the brothers and the injunction keeping them away from Maid’s Club premises was removed.

Several weeks later while serving their stews and soda bread from the window in their tinker’s wagon to a long line of students, they were pleased to see the next person in line was—Sean Connor.  He had his pail in hand and was holding it out for filling.

“The best Irish stew in Dublin Town,” he grinned.  “How does it feel to be the free men with reputations intact?”

“Wonderful!” grinned Gilly.

“When is Schaeffer’s hanging scheduled?” asked Cuddy.

“A week from now,” mumbled Sean over a large mouthful of stew.  “I had a most interesting conversation with him the other day.”

“And how was that?”

“I asked him how he could take from orphans when they had never had a bite of white cake.  Do you know how he answered?”

“Nay, how?”

“He said that the poor see white cake on the rich man’s plate and they desire it so much that if given half a chance at it, they will take it and glut themselves upon it until they are sick and vomit it on the ground.  He said poor people are poor because they are not disciplined and greedy for all the wrong things.  He said he deserved white cake because he was disciplined enough to take the nourishing food first and to daintily dine on the white cake so that it was neither wasted as vomit or sickness.”

“What did ye say to that?”

“I said it was not an unusual thing for those who’ve never had their fill of the good things, like white cake, to be a bit greedy at first, but that the desire would level off in time once their desire had been met.”

“And what was he saying to that?”

“He said such ones would never have their fill of the good things and it was just because of that reason that the poor can never be helped.”

“’Tis a very harsh philosophy and not much based on truth’s kindness.”

“Oh, he had one other thing to say.  He said that out of the poor there are a few who will rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes of poverty and develop good habits.  He believed he was one of those worthies.  A direct quote is, ‘I will be worth more than those orphans at any period in their pathetic lives.  I understand what they will never understand.’”

“Mmmm,” murmured Gilly, “he understood himself right into the hangman’s noose.  I’m wondering whether his dear mum ever read the Book to him.  There’s a powerful lot of messages about helping the poor along their way.”

Sean had finished his stew.  “Who knows?  The orphans certainly were never encouraged in Sabbath keeping or Sabbath teaching.  Oh, and by the way, some of the solicitors are wondering if you would be kind enough to deliver lunches on the odd days of the week to their town offices.  They’ve heard much about your stew and soda bread and…most likely can pay a bit better price than the students.”

The brothers grinned and agreed it was possible to feed more than just students while waving Connor on his way.

“Whoo-ee,” whistled Gilly.  “I’m not sure what it is Schaeffer was thinking he understood, Cuddy, but loving-kindness is a valuable quality before the Lord and men.  It’s the beginning of all that is lasting and good.  Even the wealthy Job said that a rightfully minded man would give himself to taking care of poor men in their distress and even the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, thought a great deal about taking care of the downtrodden.  It’s the start of wealth to have such a mind.  I’m thinking the young fellow, Schaeffer, missed the entire message behind the whole story of man and his purpose for being on this earth.”

Cuddy laughed outright, “Gilly, fellows like Schaeffer are up to thinking that men like Solomon are fools for giving any time or thought to poor men and the dilemmas of the less fortunate.  He failed to understand that the faithful taking care of others is at the core of the fabric and the patterning that makes good men good and wise kings better.”

The next morning the brothers were awakened early to the sound of two horses thundering past their camp, whirling, stopping, and a loud hallooing.  They scrambled from their beds to greet the hello.

“Father said you were camping here in the woods,” a young man called.  “I’m stopping to tell you thank you.  The horses are in fine shape despite the several weeks lapse in their exercise.”

“Young McAllistair!” greeted McGillvery, climbing down the back of the tinker’s cart.  “So, you have returned to university?”

“Yes—now that Schaeffer’s no longer able to blackmail me.  It was a lucky thing meeting you on the road.  I handed the letter to just the right men, I’d say.  Oh, and by the way, a gift from the Rector.  It’s my turn to deliver a letter to you.”

McGillvery reached to take the envelope.

“Well, I’m off.  The stallion doesn’t like to stay put long and I’ve still need to ride the gelding.  He doesn’t like being led like this.  Oh, I almost forgot.  Father said when you graduate come to see him.  He is always looking for men with high standards who are able to prosper a business the way you two did with your wagon cooking.”  He waved and as quick as a thoroughbred can jump, turned and raced back toward the highway.

“Then the old gentleman didn’t lose his son after all,” said McGillicuddy.

“Wise sons know wealth is kept for generations when principles of right are strongly adhered to,” replied McGillvery.  “The son knew as well as his father the importance of right action.  So, there is more than one who went to bed last evening contented in heart.”

McGillicuddy had taken the letter from McGillvery and opened it.  “Gilly,” he whispered.  “Listen.  Meritorious conduct and honorable action are the basis upon which all long standing systems rest.  Alls Hallows encourages the education of students who have proved themselves to be of stalwart character and leaders in ethical conduct.  We therefore offer full scholarships to McGillvery and McGillicuddy pursuant upon adequate academic performance throughout the semesters in which they pursue their respective disciplines.”

“Gilly,” whispered Cuddy, “how did it turn out so well?”

“We looked in the right place for guidance,” replied Gilly simply.

So began two tinkers’ education at university.  They spent many years wrestling with the personalities of many different professors, learned, grew wiser, and finally came to understand broadly about many different kinds of men and the way things are placed in the world.  They spent Sabbaths at the orphanage teaching the wee ones about the Father and telling them stories that would enable the small ones to take life’s higher road leading to life’s better blessings and happily watched many of the orphans enter university and become good men serving Ireland and Dublin and sometimes the world far from those emerald shores.  They lived simply.  They lived well.  How would they use all the knowledge they had gained?  Well, that’s another story about a king’s business and when two heads are always better than one. 

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