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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "The Old King Comes Back"

The Old King Comes Back

When Mrs. O'Brien and Kathleen left home they walked through the Park and to the Sullivans'. Peter was away. Terence half sat and half lay on the floor in a corner. He held his right hand behind him and covered his face with his left arm. His whole body shook as if he were riding in a cart over a rough road. Ellen sat close to him, trying to soothe him and trying to get him to tell her what was the matter.

When Mrs. O'Brien and Kathleen came in Terence seemed to try to make himself smaller, but he did nothing else. "Ellen," said Mrs. O'Brien, "come outside the room here for a moment; I have something to tell you."

"Look at Terence there," Ellen answered; "how can I leave him when he's that way?"

"Leave him," said Mrs. O'Brien, "and come out here with me."

She took Ellen by the hand and led her, and Ellen followed. There was something in Mrs. O'Brien's look now that told her she would have to come. "Now look at me," said Mrs. O'Brien, when they were out of the room; "do I look as if I would mean every word I said, or do I not?"

Ellen did not answer, and Mrs. O'Brien said: "Ellen, when it was only your own affair I told you what you ought to do, but I let you take your own way. But now it is Kathleen's affair and John's and mine, and it is time that I had my way. Look at me, Ellen, and tell me, do I look as if I meant to have it?"

Again Ellen looked in the old woman's face and said nothing for an instant. Then she looked down again in a confused way, and said: "I must go back to Terence."

"Ellen," said the old woman, "go down to the kitchen. We'll follow you, and Terence can come, too, if he likes, and I think he will."

Without a word Ellen went down the stairs. Mrs. O'Brien called to Terence: "We are going to the kitchen; you can come if you like."

Mrs. O'Brien and Kathleen followed Ellen, and Terence followed them. He slipped down the stairs like a bundle of rags. He stole into the kitchen after the others and half sat and half lay in the corner, as he had done in the room above, only he did not cover his face with his arm, but kept his eyes on Mrs.

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