It was in a poor little cabin somewhere in Ireland. It does not matter where. The walls were of rough stone, the roof was of thatch, and the floor was the hard earth. There was very little furniture. Poor as it was, the whole place was clean. It is right to tell this, because, unhappily, a good many cabins in Ireland are not clean. What furniture there was had been rubbed smooth and spotless, and the few dishes that there were fairly shone. The floor was as carefully swept as if the Queen were expected.
The three persons who lived in the cabin had eaten their supper of potatoes and milk and were sitting before the turf fire. It had been a poor supper, yet a little of it that was left—a few potatoes, a little milk, and a dish of fresh water—had been placed on a bench outside the door. There was no light except that of the fire. There was no need of any other, and there was no money to spend on candles that were not needed.
The three who sat before the fire, and needed no other light, were a young man, a young woman, and an elderly woman. She did not like to be called old, for she said, and quite truly, that sixty was not old for anybody who felt as young as she did. This woman was Mrs. O'Brien. The young man was her son, John, and the young-woman was his wife, Kitty.
"Kitty," said John, "it's not well you're lookin' to-night. Are ye feelin' anyways worse than common?"
"It's only a bit tired I am," said Kitty, "wid the work I was afther doin' all day. I'll be as well as ever in the morning."
"It's a shame, that it is," said John, "that ye have to be workin' that way, day afther day, and you not sthrong at all. It's a shame that I can't do enough for the three of us, and the more, maybe, that there'll be, but you must be at it, too, all the time."
"What nonsinse ye're talkin', John," Kitty answered. "What would I be doin', settin' up here like a lady, doin' nothin', and you and mother workin' away like you was my servants? Did you think it was a duchess or the daughter of the Lord Lieutenant ye was marryin', that ye're talkin' that way?