Many times after that I went out of my way on my long solitary walks to pass the Cross-roads, but as often as not he was glum and silent, and then Bonaparte, sharing his mood, would growl like a small thunderstorm. The seat was well chosen, for the cowering trees are like a shed over it, and there is a pleasant landscape in front (though that mattered little to Andy), a landscape of dim green moors—with brown stains on them where sedge grows and black shadows where bushes huddle in clefts—chequered by a grey net of low walls, dotted with the white gables of cabins, and framed by a wavering line of hills.
Sometimes I found him playing his fiddle to keep himself company, but he stopped when he heard me, and, to tell the truth, I was glad of it, for his playing was uncanny. Sometimes I met him shambling along the brink of the Cliffs—a grotesque little figure, with his old shapeless hat, his huge coat flapping behind him, and the mighty blackthorn he carried—he knew the ground so well that he walked as if he could see (indeed, he saw more than I could, for while to me the breakers were only streaks of light, he spoke as if he was close to them on the wet weedy rocks), or I came on him lying by the edge, listening to the grumbling of the breakers and the cries of the gulls.
[Illustration: “LISTENING TO THE GRUMBLING OF THE BREAKERS AND THE CRIES OF THE GULLS.”]
Mostly he was unsociable, he shrank from his neighbours because they had been cruel to him when they were children, and the dislike was more than returned; yet I think that, but for the loneliness of his whole life, he would have been friendly enough. No one knew more of folklore—I think he half believed that he was a Changeling, and found comfort in the thought of that former life when he was one of the merry “Little Good People”—and sure old Mike Lonergan and his wife ought to have known best. He knew the ways of every ghost in the county, and it was even said that he was on speaking terms with the Headless Man who haunted Liscannor. Of course he knew all about Fairies. When the fallen leaves scurried past his feet he knew that the “Little Good People” were playing football, when the wind whispered in the leaves overhead he heard them chatting, and when it whined in the creaking bare branches, heard the poor little folk crying with cold and bewailing the days when they found shelter by snug firesides and sat there unseen but not unwelcome. Once, before the world grew hard, they gathered in the cabins, and the roughest fare grew pleasanter, the saddest hearts lighter, from their good wishes; but no one cares for them now, and they cannot rest in unfriendly houses.
[Illustration: “HE WAS ON SPEAKING TERMS WITH THE HEADLESS MAN OF LISCANNOR.”]
As he grew older, he talked more of them, grew more moody and restless, could not sit quiet while the wind was up, and spent night after night out of doors. My friend Father Peter Flannery, who is my chief authority for this history, told me that often, riding on his sick calls in stormy weather, he met Andy staggering along the rough roads.