Padna, who had been listening to the conversation of two farmers the evening before, replied, “I do. To make turnips grow.”
“Nonsense!” said the shoemaker, reaching out for an awl. “God makes it rain to remind us of the Deluge. And I don’t mean the Deluge that was at all at all. I mean the Deluge that is to come. The world will be drowned again. The belly-band of the sky will give, for that’s what the rainbow is, and it only made of colours. Did you never know until now what the rainbow was? No? Well, well!... As I was saying, when the belly-band of the sky bursts the Deluge will come. In one minute all the valleys of the earth will be filled up. In the second minute the mountains will be topped. In the third minute the sky will be emptied and its skin gone, and the earth will be no more. There will be no ark, no Noah, and no dove. There will be nothing only one great waste of grey water and in the middle of it one green leaf. The green leaf will be a sign that God has gone to sleep, the trouble of the world banished from His mind. So whenever it rains remember my words.”
Padna said he would, and then went home.
When Padna called on the shoemaker for the boots that had been left for repair they were almost ready. The tips only remained to be put on the heels. Padna sat down in the little workshop, and under the agreeable influence of the place he made bold to ask the shoemaker if he had grown up to be a shoemaker as the geranium had grown up to be a geranium in its pot on the window.
“What!” exclaimed the shoemaker. “Did you never hear tell that I was found in the country under a head of cabbage? No! Well, well! What do they talk to you at home about at all?”
“The most thing they tell me,” said Padna, “is to go to bed and get up in the morning. What is the name of the place in the country where they found you?”
“Gobstown,” said the shoemaker. “It was the most miserable place within the ring of Ireland. It lay under the blight of a good landlord, no better. That was its misfortune, and especially my misfortune. If the Gobstown landlord was not such a good landlord it’s driving on the box of an empire I would be to-day instead of whacking tips on the heels of your boots. How could that be? I’ll tell you that.
“In Gobstown the tenants rose up and demanded a reduction of rent; the good landlord gave it to them. They rose up again and demanded another reduction of rent; he gave it to them. They went on rising up, asking reductions, and getting them, until there was no rent left for anyone to reduce. The landlord was as good and as poor as our best.
“And while all this was going on Gobstown was surrounded by estates where there were the most ferocious landlords—rack-renting, absentee, evicting landlords, landlords as wild as tigers. And these tiger landlords were leaping at their tenants and their tenants slashing back at them as best they could. Nothing, my dear, but blood and the music of grape-shot and shouts in the night from the jungle. In Gobstown we had to sit down and look on, pretending, moryah, that we were as happy as the day was long.