The next Sunday all the McQueen family went to Mass and Mrs. McQueen wore her new shawl. The chapel was quite a distance away, and as they walked and all the neighbors walked, too, they had a pleasant time talking together along the way.
Dennis and the Twins walked together, and Larry and Eileen told Dennis all about the Fair, and about selling the pig to the Lady Kathleen, and "Begorra," said Dennis, "but that little pig was after bringing you all the luck in the world, was n't she?"
All the other boys and girls wanted to hear about it. Most of them had never been to a Fair. So Eileen and Larry talked all the way to church, and that was two miles and a half of talk, the shortest way you could go.
Just as they neared the church, what should they see but Grannie Malone, coming in grandeur, riding on a jaunting-car! Beside her was a big man with a tall hat on his head.
"'T is her son Michael, back from the States!" cried the Twins. "He said in a letter he was coming."
They ran as fast as they could to reach the church door in time to see them go in. Everybody else stopped, too, they were so surprised, and everybody said to everybody else, "Well, for dear's sake, if that 's not Michael Malone come back to see his old Mother!"
And then they whispered among themselves, "Look at the grand clothes on him, and the scarf pin the bigness of a ha'-penny piece, and the hat! Sure, America must be the rich place entirely."
And when Michael got out of the cart and helped out his old Mother, there were many hands held out for him to shake, and many old neighbors for him to greet.
"This is a proud day for you, Grannie Malone," said Mrs. McQueen.
"It is," said Grannie, "and a sad day, too, for he 's after taking me back to America, and 't is likely I 'll never set my two eyes on old Ireland again, when once the width of the sea comes between us."
She wiped her eyes as she spoke. Then the bell rang to call the people into the chapel. It was little the congregation heard of the service that day, for however much they tried they could n't help looking at the back of Michael's head and at Grannie's bonnet.
And afterward, when all the people were outside the church door, Grannie Malone said to different old friends of Michael, "Come along to my house this afternoon, and listen to Himself telling about the States!"
That afternoon when the McQueens had finished their noon meal, the whole family walked up the road to Grannie's house. There were a good many people there before them. Grannie's little house was full to the door. Michael stood by the fireplace, and as the McQueens came in he was saying, "It 's the truth I 'm telling you! There are over forty States in the Union, and many of them bigger than the whole of Ireland itself! There are places in it where you could travel as far as from Dublin to Belfast without ever seeing a town at all; just fields without stones or trees lying there begging for the plow, and sorrow a person to give it them!"
"Will you listen to that now?" said Grannie.
"And more than that, if you 'll believe me," Michael went on, "there do be places in America where they give away land, let alone buying it! Just by going and living on it for a time and doing a little work on it, you can get one hundred and sixty acres of land, for your own, mind you!"
"The Saints preserve us, but that might be like Heaven itself, if I may make bold to say so," said Mrs. Maguire.
"You may well say that, Mrs. Maguire," Michael answered, "for there, when a man has bent his back, and put in sweat and labor to enrich the land, it is not for some one else he does it, but for himself and his children. Of course, the land that is given away is far from big cities, and it 's queer and lonely sometimes on the distant farms, for they do not live in villages, as we do, but each farmhouse is by itself on its own land, and no neighbors handy. So for myself, I stayed in the big city."
"You seem to have prospered, Michael," said Mr. McQueen.
"I have so," Michael answered. "There are jobs in plenty for the willing hands. Sure, no Irishman would give up at all when there 's always something new to try. And there 's always somebody from the old sod there to help you if the luck turns on you. Do you remember Patrick Doran, now? He lived forninst the blacksmith shop years ago. Well, Patrick is a great man. He 's a man of fortune, and a good friend to myself. One year when times were hard, and work not so plenty, I lost my job, and did n't Patrick help me to another the very next week? Not long after that Patrick ran for Alderman, and myself and many another like me, worked hard for to get him elected, and since then I 've been in politics myself. First Patrick got me a job on the police force, and then I was Captain, and since then, by one change and another, if I do say it, I 'm an Alderman myself!"
"It 's wonderful, sure," Mr. Maguire said, when Michael had finished, "but I 'm not wishful for to change. Sure, old Ireland is good enough for me, and I 'd not be missing the larks singing in the spring in the green fields of Erin, and the smell of the peat on the hearth in winter. It 's queer and lonesome I 'd be without these things, and that 's the truth."
He threw his head back and began to sing. Everybody joined in and sang, too. This is the song they sang:—