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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "O'Donoghue"

O'Donoghue

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"And it'll be worse a long time before it's betther," John went on. "Wid the three of us workin' all the time, we just barely get along. And it's the end of the summer now. What we'll do at all when the winter comes, I dunno."

The older woman listened to the others and said nothing. Perhaps she had heard such talk as this so many times that she did not care to join in it again, or perhaps she was waiting to be asked to speak. For it was to her that these younger people always turned when they were in trouble. It was her advice and her opinion that they always asked when they felt that they needed a better opinion than their own. The three sat silent now for a time, and then John broke out, as if the talk had been going on in his mind all the while: "What's the good of us tryin' to live at all?" he said. "Is livin' any use to us? We do nothin' but work all day, and eat a little to give us the strength to work the next day, and then we sleep all night, if we can sleep. And it's that and nothing else all the year through. Are we any better when the year ends than we were when it began? If we've paid the rent, we've done well. We never do more."

"John," the old woman answered, "it's not for us to say why we're here or what for we're living. It's God that put us here, and He'll keep us here till it's our time to go. He has made it the way of all His creatures to provide for themselves and for their own, and to keep themselves alive while they can. When He's ready for us to die, we die. That's all we know. The rest is with Him."

"I know all that's true, mother," said John; "but what is there for us to hope for, that we'ld wish to live? It's nothing but work to keep the roof over us. We don't even eat for any pleasure that's in it—only so that we can work. If we rested for a day, we'ld be driven out of our house. If we rested for another day, we'ld starve. Is there any good to be hoped for such as us? Will there ever be any good times for Ireland? I mean for all the people in it.

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