The Last of the Foresters eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about The Last of the Foresters.

In the outer room they laughed and jested gaily.

CHAPTER LXVII.

HOW ST. PATRICK ENCOUNTERED ST. MICHAEL, AND WHAT ENSUED.

As Redbud entered the outer room, the talkers suddenly became silent, and ran to the windows.

The procession has returned:—­the pageant has retraced its steps:—­the swaying, shouting, battle-breathing rout has made the northern end of the town hideous, and comes back to make the portion already passed over still more hideous.

Hitherto the revellers have had a clear sweep—­an unobstructed highway.  They have gone on in power and glory, conquering where there was no enemy, defying where there was no adversary.

But this all changes suddenly, and a great shout roars up from a hundred mouths.

Another drum is heard; mutterings from the southern end of the town respond.

The followers of the maligned and desecrated Michael are in battle array—­the Dutch are out to protect their saint, and meet the Irish world in arms.

They come on in a tumultuous mass:  they sway, they bend, they leap, they shout.  The other half of Pandemonium has turned out, and surrounding ears are deafened by the demoniac chorus.

In costume they are not dissimilar to their enemies—­in rotundity they are superior, however, if not in brawn.  Every other warrior holds his pipe between his teeth, and all brandish nondescript weapons, like their enemies, the Irish.

And as the great crowd draws near, the crowning peculiarity of the pageant is revealed to wondering eyes.

The Dutch will have their defiant masquerade no less than their enemies:  the Irish parade St. Michael in derision:  their’s be it to show the world an effigy of St. Patrick.

Borne, like St. Michael, on a platform raised above the universal head, in proud pre-eminence behold the great St. Patrick, and his wife Sheeley!

St. Patrick is tall and gaunt, from his contest with the serpents of the emerald isle.  He wears a flowing robe, which nevertheless permits his slender, manly legs to come out and be visible.  He boasts a shovel hat, adorned with a gigantic sprig of shamrock:  he sits upon the chest in which, if historical tradition truly speaks, the great boa constrictor of Killarney was shut up and sunk into the waters of the lake.  Around his neck is a string of Irish potatoes—­in his hand a shillelah.

Beside him sits his wife Sheeley, rotund and ruddy, with a coronet of potatoes, a necklace of potatoes, a breastpin of potatoes—­and lastly, an apron full of potatoes.  She herself resembled indeed a gigantic potatoe, and philologians might have conjectured that her very name was no more than a corruption of the adjective mealy.

The noble saint and his wife came on thus far above the roaring crowd, and as they draw nearer, lo! the saint and Sheeley are revealed.

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The Last of the Foresters from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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