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Seumas MacManus

Murroghoo-More and Murroghoo-Beg

Murroghoo-more and Murroghoo-beg were cousins and lived in the one townland. Murroghoo-more was the biggest and strongest and always kept poor Murroghoo-beg at his command, and made him do what he liked. Murroghoo-more one day gave Murroghoo-beg a skillet and says he to him, "Murroghoo-beg, go out to the wood and pluck the full of that skillet of raspberries." Murroghoo-beg took the skillet and went to the wood and filled it with the raspberries, but on the way home again there come on a shower, and Murroghoo-beg had to go in under a bush till it would pass over. When he was in under the bush he began to take the hunger, and when he looked at the fine skillet of ripe raspberries he was carrying home to lazy Murroghoo-more his teeth began to water, and poor Murroghoo-beg couldn't help tasting one raspberry just to see what they were like, and then another, and another, till at last he finished the skillet. Very well and good. When he came home, says Murroghoo-more, "Where's the raspberries I sent ye for?" "I had the full of the skillet, but hunger took me on the road home, and I ate them," says Murroghoo-beg. So Murroghoo-more thrashed him soundly. Well the next morning Murroghoo-more come to Murroghoo-beg again, and gave him the skillet, and told him to go to the wood and pull him a skillet of raspberries; "and mind," says he, "that hunger doesn't take you on the way home the day, or it will be worse for ye." Poor Murroghoo-beg promised that it would not, and he set out this day again and pulled the full of the skillet of raspberries in the wood; and on his way home doesn't a shower come on again and put him under a bush, and the hunger took him again, and he ate the skillet of raspberries. So when he went home Murroghoo-more asked him where was his raspberries, and poor Murroghoo-beg told him again what happened to him. "All right," says Murroghoo-more, and he set to and thrashed Murroghoo-beg soundly. Very good, the next morning Murroghoo-more comes to Murroghoo-beg the third time, and gave him the skillet and told him to go out to the wood and pull him a skillet of raspberries, and that if he ate the raspberries this time again he would surely have his life. But poor Murroghoo-beg ate a hearty breakfast, and said there was no fear of the hunger taking him the day. So out he goes to the wood and fills his skillet again, and set out whistling to carry it home to Murroghoo-more. But what would you have of it but the shower put Murroghoo-beg anunder the bush, and the hunger took him and he ate the skillet of raspberries again. Then he went home to Murroghoo-more, and says Murroghoo-more, "Where's my skillet of raspberries I sent you to the wood to pluck for me." "Och!" says Murroghoo-beg, says he, "the hunger took me and I ate them." "All right," says Murroghoo-more, "ye must die. I'll pick out your eyes first, and then I'll leave it to yourself to choose how to die after." So he got a pointed stick, and setting it on fire, he put it into poor Murroghoo-beg's eyes and burned them out. "Now," says Murroghoo-more, "what am I to do with you?" "Well," says Murroghoo-beg, says he, "I suppose the easiest death will be to leave me over in that old church all night, for no one that stops a night there is ever alive in the morning." Very well and good, Murroghoo-more took poor Murroghoo-beg over to the old church and left him there. About midnight poor Murroghoo-beg hears the roolie-boolie and helter-skelter, and in comes a whole rajimint of cats. Murroghoo-beg got under some planks in the corner, so he wasn't seen, but could hear all the cats would say. After a lot of chat they proposed to tell stories. So they squared themselves round, and then they differed on which of them would tell the first story. Every one of them put it to an older one till at length it came to an old granny cat, and she consented to tell her story, but she said the house would have to be well searched first, for it wouldn't do for anyone to overhear what she had to say. Well and good, all the young cats went hurry skurry round the church, looking under the seats and everywhere, and poor Murroghoo-beg begun to tremble in his skin now with fear of being caught, for he knew they would tear him to pieces. But the young cats were in such a hurry to hear the old granny cat's story that they forgot to look under the planks where Murroghoo-beg was hid. Then they reported there was no one in the house nor round about it, so the old cat begun her story.

"Well," says she, "the daughter of the king is lying bad, and very bad, and she has been that way now, off and on, for twelve months, only it's what it's worse she is getting every day, and all the first doctors in the land have been called in, and the king has offered her weight in gold to the man that will cure her, but it's all of no use. None of them can make out what's wrong with her, or how she can be cured. But I know her complaint and know how to cure it, and I'll tell you it all, only you must promise never to come out with it, for I mean to let her die a lingering death," says she.

They all promised that they'd never split lips again on the subject, so the spiteful old cat went on—

"Well, then," says she, "long ago, when she was a child, she saw me putting my head into a noggin of sweet-milk, and she came up and hit me on the head, and made me drop the mouthful I had got, back into the pail again, and she then took a drink out of the pail herself with the venom of my spittal in it, and from that day young serpents have been growing in her. There's one thing, and only one, would cure her, and rid her of the serpents, and that, please the devil, she'll never have, nor never know of—that is, just three spoonfuls of water out of the well here at the back of the church, to be taken nine mornings on the bare stomach, fasting."

Murroghoo-beg heard all this, and he waited till the cats went all away, and in the morning he came out, and, groping his way to the well, he took off his boots and filled one of them with water, and then started for the king's palace, and when he come there all that place was in a commotion with all the first doctors of the three kingdoms and France besides. And when poor Murroghoo-beg come in, and he was asked what was wrong with him, and he said he had come to cure the king's daughter; and they asked him where was his medicine, and he said he had it in his boot, they commenced laughing at him, and the doctors ordered him to be turned out. And the servants begun to shove and push poor Murroghoo-beg to put him out of the palace, but Murroghoo wasn't for going, and that was the roolie-boolie! And by the toss o' wars what with the wrestling and the fighting and the racketing they made, doesn't the sick lady hear it, and she sent down word to know what was going on. And they sent back the word that it was a poor demented man that wanted to cure her ladyship with a bootful of spring water. "Let him come up," said her ladyship; "sure he can't do no worse nor the rest of them anyhow." Well, her wish, of course, was a command. Up my brave Murroghoo-beg was taken, and when he come into her ladyship's presence he told her he would get her out of bed in short time. So he put her under cure of three spoonfuls of the water he had in his boot, on the bare stomach fasting for nine mornings. The other doctors looked on and shook their heads, but daren't say anything. But the tables were soon turned on them, for sure enough the very first day she took the water she felt great ease entirely, and so on day after day, till on the morning of the ninth day after she had took the medicine she was taken with a fit of vomiting, and vomited up the full of a basin of young serpents, and then she got up out of her bed, and walked out as fine, strong, and handsome a young woman as you would ask to see. And she was so well pleased at this, and the king was so well pleased that they sent home Murroghoo-beg with double her weight in gold along with him. After Murroghoo-beg came home he went to the well behind the old church for nine mornings bathing his eyes in it every morning, and on the ninth morning his eyes and his eyesight were as good as ever. Poor Murroghoo-beg could now live happy and well for the remainder of his days, only the dread was in him still of Murroghoo-more, and he knew that when Murroghoo-more would hear of his good luck he would put him to death, and take his gold. And right enough it wasn't long till it come to Murroghoo-more's ears that Murroghoo-beg was back alive again with his eyes and eyesight, and no end of gold into the bargain, however he had come by it. So my brave Murroghoo-more starts out and comes to Murroghoo-beg, and, "Murroghoo-beg," says he, "I thought I left ye for death; and is it here ye are now?" "Oh," says Murroghoo-beg, "but it was you that did me the good turn entirely. Here I am now with eyes and my eyesight, and a good bag of gold into the bargain; and if you would only put out my eyes and leave me overnight in the old church again, I think I would have still better luck this time." "How is that?" says Murroghoo-more. "Why," says Murroghoo-beg, "this is the way of it"—and he commences telling Murroghoo-more about how there was a lot of cats came every night to the old church, and commenced to tell stories every one of them about where there was no end of treasure hid, and about wonderful easy cures for eyes that would be picked out of men's heads, till he had Murroghoo-more beside himself with delight. "You must take and pick out my eyes, now," says Murroghoo-more, "and leave me in the old church the night." "Very good," says Murroghoo-beg, "I'll do that with a heart and a half." So reddening a pointed stick in the fire Murroghoo-beg picked out the eyes of Murroghoo-more, and took him to the old church, and hid him under the same planks he had been under himself. And there Murroghoo-more lay till midnight, when he hears the roolie-boolie starting, and in comes tumbling the cats. "Och, square round, square round," the young ones begun to cry till we tell stories. "Now," says Murroghoo-more to himself, "now I'm in for it." "I'll tell no more stories," says the old granny cat, "for the last night that I told the story about the king's daughter you didn't search the house rightly, and Murroghoo-beg was lying hid there under them planks in the corner, and he heard the whole rehearsal and went off and cured her—bad luck to him and her!—and got double her weight in gold for it, and cured his own eyes that had been picked out by Murroghoo-more into the bargain." "Oh, but," says the young cats, "we'll search better this night, and I'll warrant you we'll look under the planks, and may the Lord pity Murroghoo-beg if he's eavesdropping again." So off they set at a gallop to search the house, beginning first by looking under the planks; and when they went in there, oh, that was the ruction and the uproar, and out they comes, hauling Murroghoo-more with them, and when the old cats saw this they come bouncing down, spitting, and their eyes flashing fire, and all of them fell on him, tearing him to pieces, and it was trying to see who would get most of him they were. So, when Murroghoo-beg went to the old church in the morning to see what had become of Murroghoo-more, he got nothing only a rickle of bare bones. Murroghoo-beg buried these, and went home and lived happy ever after.