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our heads of hair and our beards, unless indeed
we are private soldiers, or paupers, or convicts,
or are put into a reformatory; when, for the
general good, we must yield to sanitary
cropping laws.



ONE day Witch was busy making the
soup for the dinner. She was covered to
the chin in a large apron, and her sleeves
were rolled up to her shoulders. She
wielded a wooden spoon in stirring the
pot, and chopped vegetables as she was
accustomed; but the little maid was in an
unusual state of anxiety. Her cheeks were
hot, and her heart was thumping under
her checked apron. The matter that
troubled her was also unusual. Barry had
invited her to breakfast with his mother.
Witch was longing to go, but did not know
how to ask permission to absent herself
from home. In her distress she ventured to
appeal to Kathleen, who came down to the
kiitchen with a tattered novel in her hand,
to warm her feet, and to taste the soup.

Now Kathleen was not an ill-natured
person. She knew that she was a large,
selfish, useless young woman, and, in the
abstract, she could have wished to be
different. She secretly admired Witch's
energy and industry, and often wished that
there were servants to do the work of the
house in her stead. Thinking thus she felt
herself to be a most affectionate sister. She
had once got up an hour earlier in the
morning with the intention of helping
Witch to arrange the breakfast-table, but,
having so much unusual time on her hands,
had been lured by her vanity into mazes
of elaborate hair-dressing, from which she
could not satisfactorily extricate herself till
the breakfast was nearly over. This was
now some months ago, and she had just
been feeling that it was time to make
another effort to assist Witch. So that Witch
got a favourable hearing while Kathleen
performed the duty of tasting the soup.

And Kathleen went to Barbara, the eldest
sister, who had no taste for being a mother,
and found her making paper flowers to wear
in her bonnet, and laid little Witch's
request before her.

"If they had even been rich and
respectable people!" said Barbara. "But
low acquaintances whom she has picked
up by chance for all the world like a
servant maid!"

"Very like a servant maid," said Kathleen,

"Don't take me up in that manner,"
said Barbara. "I am your elder sister,
and it is very disrespectful. Pray, who
will make my toast? and you know that
I cannot eat my breakfast without it."

"I will do it," said Kathleen,
magnanimously; and, not to be outdone in
generosity, Barbara consented to exist without
Witch for a whole summer morning till ten

The young poet and his mother lived in
a strange old corner of Dublin called
Weavers'-square. It is all paved with
stones in the middle, quite shut in from
the world, and the houses are queer and
ancient, with their fronts rising up and
narrowing to a peak, as if they had been
originally intended for gables, and the
builder had changed his mind. Up a
winding stair went Witch, and into the presence
of Barry's mother.

One of the small deep-set windows lay
open, and a sweet-looking old woman sat
beside it in a rude arm-chair. She was
sorting a variety of coloured silks in her
lap, though her eyes were closed, for she
was blind. But she had learned to know
the colours by her touch. A coarse brown
pitcher, crammed full of blooming
hawthorn, was on the sill beside her; and the
scanty white curtain was drawn aside and
the fresh air coming in.

Never before had Witch been in possession
of three whole hours to be expended in
idleness with her friends. As she took her
seat at the frugal breakfast-table, she gazed
in delight through her rose-coloured
spectacles at the weaver's poverty-stricken home.
The room had a dark sloping roof and
crooked walls. The most important article
of furniture was the heavy loom, at which
Barry must work night and day. Upon it
was stretched the unfinished cloth, and a
little ledge held some paper, an ink-horn, and
pen. Here were written the poems which
were so beautiful to Witch, and which, later,
the whole world was to extol. The sun was
shining on Witch's brilliant kerchief, which
she wore upon her shoulders in honour of
the occasion. And the mother, who could
not see, had been told of this, and of how
bravely the colours sparkled, and of how
fire flashed out of the gold.

"My dear," she said, "you would prize
it indeed if you knew how my boy worked
three nights without sleep to finish it. And
it is a rare little garment with a wonderful
story. Barry, have you told her the

"No," said Barry; "not without your