Y grandfather, Andrew Coffey, was known to the whole barony as
a quiet, decent man. And if the whole barony knew him, he
knew the whole barony, every inch, hill and dale, bog and
pasture, field and covert. Fancy his surprise one evening,
when he found himself in a part of the demesne he couldn't
recognise a bit. He and his good horse were always stumbling
up against some tree or stumbling down into some bog-hole
that by rights didn't ought to be there. On the top of all
this the rain came pelting down wherever there was a
clearing, and the cold March wind tore through the trees.
Glad he was then when he saw a light in the distance, and
drawing near found a cabin, though for the life of him he
couldn't think how it came there. However, in he walked,
after tying up his horse, and right welcome was the
brushwood fire blazing on the hearth. And there stood a
chair right and tight, that seemed to say, "Come, sit down
in me." There wasn't a soul else in the room. Well, he did
sit, and got a little warm and cheered
 after his drenching.
But all the while he was wondering and wondering.
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey!"
Good heavens! who was calling him, and not a soul in sight?
Look around as he might, indoors and out, he could find no
creature with two legs or four, for his horse was gone.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY! tell me a story."
It was louder this time, and it was nearer. And then what a
thing to ask for! It was bad enough not to be let sit by the
fire and dry oneself, without being bothered for a story.
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! Tell me a story, or it'll
be the worse for you."
My poor grandfather was so dumbfounded that he could only
stand and stare.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY! I told you it'd be the worse
And with that, out there bounced, from a cupboard that
Andrew Coffey had never noticed before, a man. And the man
was in a towering rage. But it wasn't that. And he carried
as fine a blackthorn as you'd wish to crack a man's head
with. But it wasn't that either. But when my grandfather
clapped eyes on him, he knew him for Patrick Rooney, and all
the world knew he'd gone overboard, fishing one night long
Andrew Coffey would neither stop nor stay, but he took to
his heels and was out of the house as hard as he could. He
ran and he ran taking little thought of what was before till
at last he ran up against a big tree. And then he sat down
 He hadn't sat for a moment when he heard voices.
"It's heavy he is, the vagabond." "Steady now, we'll rest
when we get under the big tree yonder." Now that happened to
be the tree under which Andrew Coffey was sitting. At least
he thought so, for seeing a branch handy he swung himself up
by it and was soon snugly hidden away. Better see than be
seen, thought he.
The rain had stopped and the wind fallen. The night was
blacker than ever, but Andrew Coffey could see four men, and
they were carrying between them a long box. Under the tree
they came, set the box down, opened it, and who should they
bring out but—Patrick Rooney. Never a word did he say, and
he looked as pale as old snow.
Well, one gathered brushwood, and another took out tinder
and flint, and soon they had a big fire roaring, and my
grandfather could see Patrick plainly enough. If he had kept
still before, he kept stiller now. Soon they had four poles
up and a pole across, right over the fire, for all the world
like a spit, and on to the pole they slung Patrick Rooney.
"He'll do well enough," said one; "but who's to mind him
whilst we're away, who'll turn the fire, who'll see that he
With that Patrick opened his lips: "Andrew Coffey," said
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! Andrew
"I'm much obliged to you, gentlemen," said Andrew Coffey,
"but indeed I know nothing about the business."
"You'd better come down, Andrew Coffey," said Patrick.
 It was the second time he spoke, and Andrew Coffey decided
he would come down. The four men went off and he was left
all alone with Patrick.
Then he sat and he kept the fire even, and he kept the spit
turning, and all the while Patrick looked at him.
Poor Andrew Coffey couldn't make it all out at all, at all,
and he stared at Patrick and at the fire, and he thought of
the little house in the wood, till he felt quite dazed.
"Ah, but it's burning me ye are!" says Patrick, very short
"I'm sure I beg your pardon," said my grandfather "but might
I ask you a question?"
"If you want a crooked answer," said Patrick; "turn away or
it'll be the worse for you."
But my grandfather couldn't get it out of his head; hadn't
everybody, far and near, said Patrick had fallen overboard.
There was enough to think about, and my grandfather did
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! it's burning me ye are."
Sorry enough my grandfather was, and he vowed he wouldn't do
"You'd better not," said Patrick, and he gave him a cock of
his eye, and a grin of his teeth, that just sent a shiver
down Andrew Coffey's back. Well it was odd, that here he
should be in a thick wood he had never set eyes upon,
turning Patrick Rooney upon a spit. You can't wonder at my
grandfather thinking and thinking and not minding the fire.
"ANDREW COFFEY, ANDREW COFFEY, IT'S THE DEATH OF YOU I'LL BE."
 And with that what did my grandfather see, but Patrick
unslinging himself from the spit and his eyes glared and his
It was neither stop nor stay my grandfather made, but out he
ran into the night of the wood. It seemed to him there
wasn't a stone but was for his stumbling, not a branch but
beat his face, not a bramble but tore his skin. And wherever
it was clear the rain pelted down and the cold March wind
Glad he was to see a light, and a minute after he was
kneeling, dazed, drenched, and bedraggled by the hearth
side. The brushwood flamed, and the brushwood crackled, and
soon my grandfather began to feel a little warm and dry and
easy in his mind.
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey!"
It's hard for a man to jump when he has been through all my
grandfather had, but jump he did. And when he looked around,
where should he find himself but in the very cabin he had
first met Patrick in.
 "Andrew Coffey, Andrew Coffey, tell me a story."
"Is it a story you want?" said my grandfather as bold as may
be, for he was just tired of being frightened. "Well if you
can tell me the rights of this one, I'll be thankful."
And he told the tale of what had befallen him from first to
last that night. The tale was long, and may be Andrew Coffey
was weary. It's asleep he must have fallen, for when he
awoke he lay on the hill-side under the open heavens, and
his horse grazed at his side.
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