Wind Shares

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Suit of Clothes

Francis Dennehy was due to return any day to County Kerrigan from school in Dublin, and the rumor was that while he had been away, he had become what was called a “fancy-lad.” It was said that he now went about in a suit of clothes rather than sodden rags, and that he ate vegetables rather than small stones he found in the road.

“A suit of clothes?” exclaimed Mary Kelly upon hearing the rumor. “Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing!”

“Clothes is things for fancy-men. Like Rudolph Valentino, or the Pope,” explained Ryan Carmody. He was the oldest and most knowledgeable. “When I was but a wee lad, me mother once took me down to County Clarke to see clothes.”

“I once saw a photograph of a man in clothes,” said Brendan O’Dwyer. 

“Oh, a photograph!” tittered Katie Fitzgerald. “And was it the Prince of Wales who showed ye it?”

“ was a drawing of a photograph,” Brendan admitted. “Me brother Seamus saw it when he was away at war. When he came home, he drew it for me to show what it looked like.”

“And I suppose ’t was paper he drew it on, then?” Katie said mockingly.

“No,” Brendan said, “he scratched it onto the wall of our house, with — with his fingernail.” Actually, his brother had used a fork carved from the front leg-bone of a dog, but Brendan knew that he was already risking being ridiculed for putting on airs by mentioning that his house had walls — if he were to let on that his family owned a good dog-fork, he’d hear no end of it. “’T was a man who looked no different from any man here, except he had on a full suit of clothes. Shoes and all.”

Shoes?!!” Katie shrieked, collapsing into peals of laughter. “As if ye’d know shoes t’ see them!”

“I do too know shoes,” Brendan asserted. “When I was but six years old, and fell into the drinking trench and halfway drowned, ’t was a fancy-man who pulled me out and sent me on me way. His feet were great and black and with no toes to them at-all  I thought it the worst case of gout I’d ever seen. But when I got home and told me da what I’d seen, he turned pale as a cloud. As if he’d seen Christ Jesus Himself. And he said to me: ‘Lad, those were shoes. As sure as I live and breathe, that man was wearing shoes.’

At that everyone grew very quiet and grave.


But when Francis Dennehy arrived the next day, he was clad in rags that appeared no different from the ones he had been wearing when he left.

“A suit of clothes?!” said Francis with good-natured incredulity when he was told what had been said about him. “So I’m to be Rudolph Valentino, is that it?”

“And I suppose that ye ate no vegetables, as well,” said Ryan, trying and failing to conceal the disappointment in his voice.

“Surely not,” laughed Francis, “but I think I might know how that one got started. I wrote to Darragh Conlan to tell him that our biology class took a trip to a building where we’d have the chance to see vegetables with our very own eyes. There was a shelf there that had both a turnip and a radish on ’t.”

“Oh, do tell us what they looked like!” Mary pleaded. “Did they look like stones?”

“No, they were great red things,” said Francis. “Not like stones at-all.”

“And did ye get to touch them, as well?” asked Katie, her eyes shining.

“,” said Francis. He looked down at his feet, his cheeks flushed. “No, we weren’t to touch them.”

But everyone rushed to assure him that it was perfectly all right.