|Farmland and View of Wicklow Town|
From Wikipedia Creative Commons, copyright David Quinn
All is calm, and all is bright
Around the virgin mother and child –
Holy infant, all tender, all mild …
May they sleep in a haven of peace …
Sleep in a haven of peace …
Robbie thought he had never heard a song so tranquil and so moving. “That mother and child – that’s your Mairin and Jaysus?” he asked.
“Right. The same as is in the kraytch,” said Mat.
“I can’t help being a little surprised. I thought the ancient religions were supposed to be violent and evil. This doesn’t seem that way.”
And Kolm’s mother said, “I’ve an idea, friend of me son, that none of them was violent in its heart. I think it’s the hearts of humans that misunderstood the Right Way and made ’em so.”
Later in the evening, Kolm played a tin whistle, a talent Robbie hadn’t known he possessed, and Kolm’s father played a grotesque musical instrument where the air was forced through a bag. They told ancient Eirish stories about vanishing cities and wandering lights and they drank mulled ale; it was not Robbie’s first taste of alcohol, but it was his first time to drink a little more than was wise. The next morning he was privileged to experience his first hangover.
When the time came to return to school, the boys treated themselves to a sea journey – taking an excursion boat across Sainjorge’s Channel instead of catching a wing hopper. The craft was operated by Gwidian Tours, the enterprise of an old family of seafarers from Kardif. It was yet another first for Robbie – his first time to bob on the waters of the sea. He got a bit queasy, but it excited him tremendously, and he hated to see the trip end.
“Ye’re kinda quiet, lad,” said Kolm, as they neared the harbor. “What are ye thinking about?”
“I’m thinking that I envy you, Goody,” Robbie replied. “I didn’t know – I couldn’t have realized – how happy people could be … with a family like yours … ”
Kolm clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, ye do seem to have had a bit of a rough time in yer life, friend of mine. But ye’re welcome in my family. Ye’re welcome to come back and soil yer boots in the goose shit as often as ye like!”