Tom Connors and the Dead Girl
"THAT is a droll story, and may be true," said John Malone, "though it doesn't stand to reason that the mother could run as fast as her son, and he as much in dread of the man in the graveyard as herself. But, true or false, sure there is neither ghost nor fairy in it." "There is not," said Maurice Fitzgerald; "and now I'll give you, not a story, but an account of what happened to a man named Tom Connors, who lived beyond Dingle, and there's a ghost in it. Connors told me all himself, and it's only a year since he died."
In the year 1846 Tom Connors was working on the road between Slea Head and Ventry with other men. One morning he asked a fellow-workman for tobacco.
"I have only enough to last through the day," said the other, "but here are threepence for you, and at breakfast-time take your bread and walk up the road and you'll find an old woman selling tobacco. When you are paid next time give back the threepence to me."
"Very well," said Connors; and when it was breakfast-time he took his bread and went along the road, eating, till he came to where the old woman was, and bought the tobacco.
Before the next pay-day the man who loaned the three-pence fell ill. Connors carried the money in his pocket a long time, hearing each day that the man was getting better, and expecting that he would see him the next day. One morning Connors was going to his work and had reached the bridge this side of Rahin. Just beyond that he saw the man who loaned him the money, and he coming toward him. The man was so near that Connors put his hand in his vest pocket and took out the threepence to pay him, but just then the man sprang on a ditch at right angles with the road and walked along on it over a bog.
Connors started to call to him, but stopped, watched, and saw the man jump from the ditch and cross a field; then he went behind a small mound, and that was the last of him. Connors walked on a short distance and met two men going to work. He saluted them, and asked what news had they. So and so died, said they, just before we left the house. This was the man who loaned Connors the threepence and had just crossed the bog. Connors said nothing to the two men about seeing him, at the time; but the eyes were leaving his head, he was in such amazement. Later, he gave the threepence to some poor persons and told them to pray for the man.
Fifty years ago it was a common thing to have dances wherever a fiddler happened to stop, and in those days strolling fiddlers were seen often. When Tom Connors, the man I mentioned, was young and unmarried, he found one evening that all the young people had gone away to dance; so he went on alone to Rahonain, for he thought it was there the dance was, but when he came to the place he was told that it was in the next village.
Connors started off towards the village without waiting. The place was lonely, and he had gone only a short distance past a forge by the wayside when he saw a woman following him. Thinking that she was some girl going to the dance, and that he could chat with her, he waited till she was near; he saw then that she was a girl who died some time before. He had danced with her often while she was in this world. He turned into a field to go by a short cut to the village; she followed. He said nothing, but hurried as much as he could; she was always close behind. Without saying a word, she was waiting for Connors to speak to her. When he reached the house where the dance was, young men and women were standing outside. The dead girl was right there behind him; he was terribly frightened, pressed in between the people and the house, and stood with his back to the wall. She went around and passed between the people and Connors--passed so near him that her clothes brushed his breast and her eyes looked into his eyes. Still he didn't speak to her. Then she went away across the field and disappeared.