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A short story by Stephen Crane

At Clancy's Wake

Title:     At Clancy's Wake
Author: Stephen Crane [More Titles by Crane]

SCENE--Room in the house of the lamented Clancy. The curtains are pulled down. A perfume of old roses and whisky hangs in the air. A weeping woman in black it seated at a table in the centre. A group of wide-eyed children are sobbing in a corner. Down the side of the room is a row of mourning friends of the family. Through an open door can be seen, half hidden in shadows, the silver and black of a coffin.

WIDOW--Oh, wirra, wirra, wirra!

CHILDREN--B-b boo-hoo-hoo!

FRIENDS (conversing in low tones)--Yis, Moike Clancy was a foine mahn, sure! None betther! No, I don't t'ink so. Did he? Sure, all th' elictions! He was th' bist in the warrud! He licked 'im widin an inch of his loife, aisy, an' th' other wan a big, shtrappin' buck of a mahn, an' him jes' free of th' pneumonia! Yis, he did! They carried th' warrud by six hunder! Yis, he was a foine mahn. None betther. Gawd sav' 'im!

(Enter Mr. SLICK, of the "Daily Blanket," shown in by a maid-servant, whose hair has become disarranged through much tear-shedding. He is attired in a suit of grey check, and wears a red rose in his buttonhole.)

Mr. SLICK--Good afternoon, Mrs. Clancy. This is a sad misfortune for you, isn't it?

WIDOW--Oh, indade, indade, young mahn, me poor heart is bruk.

Mr. SLICK--Very sad, Mrs. Clancy. A great misfortune, I'm sure. Now, Mrs. Clancy, I've called to--

WIDOW--Little did I t'ink, young mahn, win they brought poor Moike in that it was th' lasht!

Mr. SLICK (with conviction)--True! True! Very true, indeed. It was a great grief to you, Mrs. Clancy. I've called this morning, Mrs. Clancy, to see if I could get from you a short obituary notice for the Blanket if you could--

WIDOW--An' his hid was done up in a rag, an' he was cursin' frightful. A damned Oytalian lit fall th' hod as Moike was walkin' pasht as dacint as you plaze. Win they carried 'im in, him all bloody, an' ravin' tur'ble 'bout Oytalians, me heart was near bruk, but I niver tawt--I niver tawt--I--I niver--(Breaks forth into a long, forlorn cry. The children join in, and the chorus echoes wailfully through the rooms.)

Mr. SLICK (as the yell, in a measure, ceases)--Yes, indeed, a sad, sad affair. A terrible misfortune. Now, Mrs. Clancy--

WIDOW (turning suddenly)--Mary Ann. Where's thot lazy divil of a Mary Ann? (As the servant appears.) Mary Ann, bring th' bottle! Give th' gintlemin a dhrink!... Here's to Hiven savin' yez, young mahn. (Drinks.)

Mr. SLICK (drinks)--A noble whisky, Mrs. Clancy. Many thanks. Now, Mrs. Clancy--

WIDOW--Take anodder wan! Take anodder wan! (Fills his glass.)

Mr. SLICK (impatiently)--Yes, certainly, Mrs. Clancy, certainly. (He drinks.) Now, could you tell me, Mrs. Clancy, where your late husband was--

WIDOW--Who--Moike? Oh, young mahn, yez can just say thot he was the foinest mahn livin' an' breathin', an' niver a wan in th' warrud was betther. Oh, but he had th' tindther heart for 'is fambly, he did. Don't I remimber win he clipped little Patsey wid th' bottle, an' didn't he buy th' big rockin'-horse th' minit he got sober? Sure he did. Pass th' bottle, Mary Ann! (Pours a beer-glass about half-full for her guest.)

Mr. SLICK (taking a seat)--True, Mr. Clancy was a fine man, Mrs. Clancy--a very fine man. Now, I--

WIDOW (plaintively)--An' don't yez loike th' rum? Dhrink th' rum, mahn! It was me own Moike's fav'rite bran'. Well I remimber win he fotched it home, an' half th' demijohn gone a'ready, an' him a-cursin' up th' stairs as dhrunk as Gawd plazed. It was a--Dhrink th' rum, young mahn, dhrink th' rum! If he cud see yez now, Moike Clancy wud git up from 'is--

Mr. SLICK (desperately)--Very well, very well, Mrs. Clancy. Here's your good health. Now, can you tell me, Mrs. Clancy, when was Mr. Clancy born?

WIDOW--Win was he borrun. Sure, divil a bit do I care win he was borrun. He was th' good mahn to me an' his childher; an' Gawd knows I don't care win he was borrun. Mary Ann, pass th' bottle! Wud yez kape th' gintlemin starvin' for a dhrink here in Moike Clancy's own house? Gawd save yez.

(When the bottle appears she pours a huge quantity out for her guest.)

Mr. SLICK--Well, then, Mrs. Clancy, where was he born?

WIDOW (staring)--In Oirland, mahn, in Oirland! Where did yez t'ink? (Then, in sudden, wheedling tones.) An' ain't yez goin' to dhrink th' rum? Are yez goin' to shirk th' good whisky what was th' pride of Moike's life, an' him gettin' full on it an' breakin' th' furnitir t'ree nights a week hard-runnin'? Shame an yez, an' Gawd save yer soul. Dhrink it oop now, there's a dear, dhrink it oop now, an' say: "Moike Clancy, be all th' powers in th' shky, Hiven sind yez rist!"

Mr. SLICK--(to himself)--Holy smoke! (He drinks, then regards the glass for a long time.) ... Well, now, Mrs. Clancy, give me your attention for a moment, please. When did--

WIDOW--An' oh, but he was a power in th' warrud! Divil a mahn cud vote right widout Moike Clancy at 'is elbow. An' in th' calkus, sure didn't Mulrooney git th' nominashun jes' by raison of Moike's atthackin' th' opposashun wid th' shtove-poker. Mulrooney got it as aisy as dhirt, wid Moike rowlin' under th' tayble wid th' other candeedate. He was a good sit'zen, was Moike--divil a wan betther.

Mr. SLICK spends some minutes in collecting his faculties.

Mr. SLICK (after he decides that he has them collected)--Yes, yes, Mrs. Clancy, your husband's h-highly successful pol-pol-political career was w-well known to the public; but what I want to know is--what I want to know--(Pauses to consider.)

WIDOW (finally)--Pass th' glasses, Mary Ann, yez lazy divil; give th' gintlemin a dhrink! Here (tendering him a glass), take anodder wan to Moike Clancy, an' Gawd save yez for yer koindness to a poor widee woman!

Mr. SLICK (after solemnly regarding the glass)--Certainly, I--I'll take a drink. Certainly, M--Mish Clanshy. Yes, certainly, Mish Clanshy. Now, Mish Clanshy, w-w-wash was Mr. Clanshy's n-name before he married you, Mish Clanshy?

WIDOW (astonished)--Why, divil a bit else but Clancy.

Mr. SLICK (after reflection)--Well, but I mean--I mean, Mish Clanshy, I mean--what was date of birth? Did marry you 'fore then, or d-did marry you when 'e was born in N' York, Mish Clanshy?

WIDOW--Phwat th' divil--

Mr. SLICK (with dignity)--Ansher my queshuns, pleash, Mish Clanshy. Did 'e bring chil'en withum f'm Irelan', or was you, after married in N' York, mother those chil'en 'e brought f'm Irelan'?

WIDOW--Be th' powers above, I--

Mr. SLICK (with gentle patience)--I don't shink y' unnerstan' m' queshuns, Mish Clanshy. What I wanna fin' out is, what was 'e born in N' York for when he, before zat, came f'm Irelan'? Dash what puzzels me. I-I'm completely puzzled. An' alsho, I wanna fin' out--I wanna fin' out, if poshble--zat is, if it's poshble shing, I wanna fin' out--I wanna fin' out--if poshble--I wanna-shay, who the blazesh is dead here, anyhow?

[The end]
Stephen Crane's short story: At Clancy's Wake