The Irish Letter
written by: Steve Darnell
The tattered letter would soon be delivered by William Kinney, the head postmaster of County Wicklow. On normal days he would not personally make deliveries such as this, but he knew the importance of letters from America, and he also knew the recipient who would receive the letter. The letter was addressed to Patrick Kinney, Kings Pub, Grenealy, County Wicklow, Ireland. The return address was J. Kinney, 38 Cherry Street, New York City, America.
William saw the address on the letter and immediately knew who had sent it, his uncle John in America. And more importantly, why it had been sent to Ireland after all these years. He also knew the consequences that would soon occur by the letter’s arrival in Ireland. Or at least he thought he knew.
From the condition of the envelope, it was apparent that it had barely survived the trip from America to County Wicklow. One could barely read the smudged address on its cover. The once white envelope, now more yellow in color with a brown moldy hue, was water stained and torn in several places. The black ink of the delivery address was smudged, as if coffee or more likely cheap Jamaican rum, had been spilled on it at some point during its long six-week trip.
Kinney could just make out the blurred, smudged lettering on the envelope. He had seen many, harder to read addresses in the past as a Postmaster and basically had to guess on where to deliver the letters, but this one he could make out without much problem. He knew the address by heart, he had grown up there: 38 Cherry Street, Grenealy, his boyhood home.
William also knew the recipient of the tattered letter, Patrick Kinney, his cousin, and John’s son.
William was very familiar with the person who had sent the letter and why it had been sent. He was very worried about what the future was about to bring to his Ireland. He knew things were about to change in Wicklow and all of Ireland, but he still had a job to do, and knew what the ramifications of doing the job.
William packed his uncle’s letter to Patrick, along with two other letters that had arrived that day from the regional post office in Dublin, into a small worn leather mailbag.
As he was leaving, he was stopped by his assistant, Lydia Weamick, who was sitting at her desk behind the front counter of the county office. She was reading a book, waiting for the occasional customer who might come in with a complaint.
Since complains rarely happened in Wicklow, she didn’t have many customers. Because of her lack of work, she had plenty of free time during the workday, so Miss Weamick read a lot of books.
“Leav’n early are ya?” She asked, looking up from the leather-bound book she was reading.
William stopped and looked back at her, noticing the title of the book The Munster Cottage Boy by Regina Marie Roche. He knew the book was about rebellion and murder in Ireland, as well as other mischievous things happening in their country. Quite a controversial and some would say risqué book.
“How appropriate”, he thought, with a malevolent smile on his face, especially today. He was thinking of her book and mentally comparing it to the contents of the letter he imagined it contained that he would soon be delivering to his cousin.
He looked back at Lydia, a beautiful woman, flowing long blonde hair, stunning blue eyes, a tanned face with a beautiful smile.
She was sitting at her worn out brown oak desk behind the customer counter in the front room of the post office. A dead red rose sat on her desk in a green ceramic coffee mug, its dried petals falling to the desktop around the cup.
William noticed the pedals and was sure they were from a rose Patrick had given her in the past few days, since he often visited the office when he was often in town buying goods for the pub.
He looked at Lydia, bright sunlight was shining through a dirty lead lined office widow behind her. The light was radiating around her head, “Very angelic.” he thought, “a typical Irish beauty, actually a beauty from any corner of the world.”
“I am deliver’n a letter from America to Patrick.” he said.
“To Patrick? From whom?” She asked.
“His Pa? Is this his first letter home since he left for America?” “Yes, as far as I know.”
“Why hasn’t he written before? It is his son for heaven’s sake. Doesn’t he know the torture he is putting his son through not writing?” She asked.
She was not really concerned about Patrick’s welfare. She was just fishing, needing information for future gossip to her friends and for her own nosey curiosity.
Miss Weamick was the nosiest person in town. All the women and most of the men in Wicklow knew of her affliction to gossip. She would ask a useless question and expect a hundred answers. Often about the most mundane events. Just to help in her gossip.
“Busy with American shite, I guess. A woman more than likely.” William answered, not really wanting to open a long dialogue with her never ending quest for gossip.
“Not really sure, why.” But he knew and frankly it was none of her business.
“Guess I will be leav’n then. He said, holding the small mailbag in the air. Trying to escape any more of her interrogation.
He looked at her. By far the nosiest person in all of Ireland, if not the whole world.
He almost made it out the door.
“Av’n a pint too, no doubt.” She said with a sarcastic laugh and roll of her eyes.
“Yes.” He said cringing, shrugging his shoulders. Damn, I almost made it. He thought. “And why should today be any different?” She muttered, not looking up from her book.
“Maybe I will have a shot of whisky too.” He laughed. Just answering her now, to add information to her rumor mill.
“You can join me too if ya like. We can close early today. Call it redemption day.”
“Redemption for what?” She asked.
“I guess we will find out later today. As soon as Patrick reads the letter. Might be something there interesting.” He was once again thinking of the letter. Wondering what lay in store for County Wicklow and the rest of the country.
“I will pass. This ere book is better company than the people in that smoke filled old pub, plus it is a long ride to Grenealy, I don’t have the time.” Lydia said, pulling her hair back, looking to her book with a frown on her face.
“You sure you won’t come with me?” William asked.
“No.” she said.
“By the way. What do you think is in that letter? I have heard a lot of rumors lately about problems between the Catholics and Protestants festering in Dublin and around the country again. Just seems like odd timing that we would hear from Patrick’s father now after all these years.”
“I really could not tell you, but I have my suspicions.” William said. Not wanting to give the gossip queen of Ireland any more ammunition. “But I guess it is something we should be thinking of right now and working on some solutions. Problems will not just go away without solutions. Something should be done.”
He really did not want to discuss politics now. He needed to leave and was tired of Miss Weamick trying to bleed more information from him for her gossip. He was getting impatient and thirsty, so he made his move to leave the office.
“Alright then, will see ya in the morn.” He said, waving his hand as he walked out the door.
“What about….? Miss Weamick asked.
William ignored her. “Bye.” He said, waving to her and walking out the door. “What a nosey woman.” He thought, shutting the door behind as he left.
Kinney walked down the cobblestone sidewalk to the horse stable behind the post office. He saddled and mounted his horse and then started his somewhat long but always boring ride towards Grenealy and the pint of ale that awaited him.
The main road from Wicklow to Grenealy was not so much a road but more of a worn prehistoric three-mile trackway made over hundreds of years of foot travelers and two wheeled horse drawn carts. The road winds through the valley following the mountains and is flanked by rolling fields of bright green grass with flocks of sheep grazing peacefully, each field, separated by stone walls constructed generations ago by sheep herders, farmers, and land barons.
On a good day, the trip would take forty-five minutes. William should know, he rode it almost every day. And many times, he rode back to Wicklow drunk, rain or shine his horse knowing the way.
It had been raining for the past two days. So, the muddy conditions of the road would likely add another twenty minutes to the trip. “Twenty more minutes to wait for the pint.” William bitched to himself as he rode.
The Irish spring weather that day was perfect however, lovely blue sky, white clouds floating over the green hillsides, sun shining, just a beautiful day for a long slow ride.
“At least the rain has stopped.” He thought as his horse gingerly walked up a slippery, muddy hill. The smell of wet grass still in the air. “I’m ready fer summer and ti’rd of the bloody rain and cold weather.”
William lazily lit his churchwarden pipe and started contemplating his life up to now. Thirty-nine-year-old Kinney was nearing retirement as the Postmaster of County Wicklow. The years of postal work had transformed his face from a bookkeeper to a sea captain from all the years of sunlight and bad weather. His grey beard and mustache were tinted yellow from years of smoking cheap East Indian pipe tobacco.
He had handled the mail in the county for the last fifteen years after his boss and predecessor, Martin Bannon had committed suicide. Miss Weamick and most of the rest of the chronic gossipers in Wicklow blamed the suicide on his wife’s infidelity and according to gossip, the celibacy in the couple’s bedroom. William however, blamed it on the boredom of the Postmaster’s job and just being married in the first place.
William, as a boy, started sweeping the floors in the small two room post office, then later delivering mail to some of the rural locations outside the village of Wicklow. He was promoted to Postmaster a few years ago after the suicide, mainly because no one else wanted the job. But also because of his hard work and dedication to the people of County Wicklow over the years.
But now he was ready for a change.
On his ride, Kinney rode past the remains of a burned down cottage on the north side of the road. Its main feature was the stone chimney sticking skyward from the burned-out rubble of a home once owned by the Ketone family, a well-respected Catholic family in Wicklow. The family, now in hiding, outcasts of the English empire because of their support of the Irish uprising.
He reflected over the past years of his own family and thought about the anguish the British had caused them. He still had a burning hatred for the British, even after all the years which had passed and even though peace had supposedly been made between the Catholic and Protestant factions. Every free moment he had to think, he thought about how to get revenge on the British and he would someday.
John Kinney and his brother Jack, his father, had fought the British during the Irish Rebellion in 1798, a short but terrible war for Irish independence from England. Both men were active during the rebellion, and both were both members of a group called the United Irishmen, a pro-Irish nationalist and Catholic organization trying to create a free Ireland.
John was the leader of the underground cell in County Wicklow and the surrounding areas. After years of fighting the British, the rebellion failed. Over 25,000 Irish, men, women, and children, died during the uprising, mostly Catholic civilians, slaughtered by the British army, Protestant sympathizers and greedy businessmen looking for a quick profit.
During the rebellion, British soldiers burned Jack’s house, killing Jack and his wife Mary and most of their children. After, the theft of their land , the corrupt English government sold all the property the Kinney family had worked for over the past one hundred years to obtain, since the days of the Normans. Now greedy Englishmen, using politically influence and crooked politics were stealing their land.
All escaped the atrocity except his son William who was not home during the attack. William escaped and fled to his uncle John’s house in Grenealy after witnessing the carnage.
He would never forget the incident and never forgive the English and vowed revenge.
John, a wanted man, fled to America with other conspirators after the failed uprising. He left his home and pub in hands of his daughter Sarah and his son Patrick, his oldest son. He vowed to return someday to a free Ireland.
When John Kinney fled Ireland for America, William became Patrick’s surrogate father helping him run the Kings Pub, more as a silent partner, not a working partner, but was always there for advice on running a business. All the while running the Post Office in Wicklow.
After the uprising, William and Patrick Kinney grew up together at John’s house which was attached to the Kings Pub in Grenealy. William, ten years older than Patrick, always treated Patrick as his younger brother and taught him the ways of the world.
Growing up in a pub had its adolescent privileges and the fact that his mother had little time for parental duties because of her business, didn’t help the problem. The boys started drinking and smoking at a very young age, like any boys it their situation. William lost his virginity at the age of fourteen. Patrick lost his to the same older, well used bar maiden working at the bar, at an even younger age. To some, this would be paradise, to others, hell. But to young boys, they really did not care…
Grenealy was over the next muddy hill. He was almost home, and he knew his real job was just beginning.
William arrived on the outskirts of Grenealy in the early afternoon. His ride from Wicklow had been long, but not that unpleasant. The serenity of the peaceful ride and the beauty of the countryside had calmed his anxiety about the contents of the letter he was delivering.
The King’s Pub lay before him on the edge of the town at the crossroads of the Carrig Mountain Trail, the main road to Wicklow and Chesternut Glen, one of the main roads to Dublin. This was one of the main crossroads in east central Ireland connecting most of the country to Dublin, the capital.
The bright midday sun shone down on the pub as he rode into town. Distant rain clouds were billowing on the eastern horizon above the hills, but the sun still shone down on the hills to the west of town, creating a picturesque setting. William could smell rain in the air.
The pub was built in the mid 1700’s by William’s great-grandfather Martin Kinney and quickly became a main stay in Grenealy. Martin was a well-known Catholic politician and business leader in the area. He was known in the county for campaigning to establish Irish independence from England.
The King’s Pub, like many pubs in Ireland, was a meeting house for travelers and locals. Many political debates had taken place in front of the pub’s fireplace and many friends as well as enemy’s, had been made in front of the burning embers over the years.
The King’s Pub was a two-story building made of weather-beaten red bricks. Two front doors made of Irish oak timber painted black provided access to the building. A wooden sign, also painted black, hung above the doors with “The Kings Pub” written in gothic gold letters. Three windows with black wooden shutters were spaced evenly between the two doors, flower boxes with blooming tulips and petunias hung below each window. Three shuttered widows on the second floor provided light for the guest rooms upstairs. A hitching post ran the length of the building.
Three horses were tied to the post patiently waiting on the return of their owners.
William dismounted in front of the pub and tied his horse to the worn hitching rail. He untied the mailbag from his saddle and walked toward the doors of the pub.
The door on the right side of the pub slowly opened and Bran Murphy walked out of the dark interior into the bright sunshine. He squinted and shielded his eyes with his hand, cursing the sunlight under his breath and staggered slowly towards his horse standing at the hitching rail.
William saw Bran and a smile immediately lit up his face. Bran was one of his best childhood friends. The two, with young Patrick in tow, had shared quit a few pints of beer at King’s Pub in the past. Bran was basically part of the Kinney family.
“Bran, ye ol’ scallywag! Ya leav’n already?” William yelled, startling the horses tied to the rail.
Bran squinted until his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight and finally saw his old friend.
“That depends.” He said in a serious tone but with a sly smile on his face. “Depends on if yer buy’n or not.”
“Of course, I’m buy’n you ol’ fool. Don’t I always? Yer always broke. Now turn yer arse around and git back inside.”
William slapped Bran on the back and both friends walked into the dark pub. “What ya do’n in town in the middle of the week?” Bran asked.
“Deliver’n a letter to Patrick from his Pa. Just got it yesterday. He is still in America ya know.”
“That is what I heard. His Pa finally wrote? It has been a while has it not?”
“Yes, it has been a while. ”
“How long has he been gone?” Bran asked.
“A few years. I have lost track to tell the truth. Four or five years. But I guess it is time for him to write now. He always said we would know when the time would come. Must be now or he would not have written to Patrick.” William answered.
“Time for what?”
“Not sure, but I guess we will see once I find Patrick.”
Ellie, the new young red head bar maiden and cook at the Kings Pub was busy stoking the fire and stirring the lamb stew brewing in a huge cast iron pot, hanging in the fireplace. She stood up and greeted William and Bran when they walked in with a nod, wiping the hair and sweat from her eyes.
“Sarah” She yelled over her shoulder, “we have a couple new paddy whackers here!”
“You are the only new ones here.” William muttered under his breath, looking at Ellie from the corner of his eye. Ellie had only been employed a short time. She didn’t know William, only having heard of him from tavern gossip.
Sarah, Patrick’s sister, and part owner of the pub, came out of the storeroom behind the bar.
“They ain’t new.” She said looking at her two friends. “ And they ain’t paddy whackers. And one of them has been er all afternoon.”
“What ya drink’n today, William?” She asked, walking behind the bar. “I already know what this coot is hav’n.” She said pointing at Bran.
“Give us a couple ale’s, Sarah. He is drink’n the ale I am buy’n or nothing at all.” William answered with a laugh.
“I will a’ve the ale then. The price is right.” Bran laughed.
While Sarah was drawing the ale William looked around the pub. It had not changed much during his lifetime.
As usual, at this time of the day the establishment had three patrons sitting at the bar near the fireplace playing a game of cards. Like old timers in most pubs, the men were retired gentlemen sitting at their favorite spot at the bar, telling ridiculous war stories, lying about the women they had been with in their youth and making their political and religious opinions known to everyone in the pub, not worrying about who they might offend.
“Hello mates!” William said cheerfully.
“Good day William.” The oldest of the three men replied. The shorter of the three nodded, laying down his cards. The men stopped their conversation focusing their attention on William.
Sarah finished pouring the ale and brought the drinks over to William and Bran, setting the pints on the bar, spilling a little down the side of the mugs.
“You haven’t been gone long.” Sarah said looking at Bran.
“Well, I missed yer company.” He said winking.
“Yeah, we thought we were done with ya for the day.” The oldest man sitting at the end of the bar interrupted.
“Well, you thought wrong ya old coot.”
“Yeah, we thought we were done with yer bullshit for the day.” The shortest man chimed in as he lit his pipe.
“Well, you thought wrong ya old fuck.” Bran replied. “Tell some more lies to your mates and fuck off.”
“Yeah, fuck off!”
“Easy boys. Do not forget your manners. There are ladies present here.” William said. “I will take care of Brans pint Sarah.”
“Thanks, and cheers!” Bran said taking a long drink of his ale, forgetting about the insults from the old men.
William looked around the pub. It was like a home to him. And had hardly changed since he was a small child.
An oak bar at the rear of the pub ran its width. There were two beer taps. Shelves on the wall behind the bar holding beer mugs and whiskey glasses and clay jugs of cider and whisky bottles. In front of the bar where six wooden bars stools. In the main area where six round wooden tables each with four wooden chairs. A fireplace burned to the left, next to where the old men were sitting. A clock sat on a wooden mantel above the fire.
The room was dimly lit by several oil burning lamps. The floor was worn wooden planks. Dark wooden beams stained by years of tobacco and fireplace smoke held up the thatched roof.
He looked at the old timers at the end of the bar. The three men, along with his friend Bran, sat in the same place at the bar almost every day, drinking until they staggered home to angry wives. On some occasions they played card games that nobody ever seemed to win. They had done the same ritual almost every day for the past twenty years since all of them, except Bran, returned from the army and the last war.
“You want to deal me in again you old fart?” Bran asked.
“Old?” The older man said, not looking up from his cards. “The only old man in here is sitting here next to me cheat’n and bottom deal’n.”
“Ah shut yer mouth ya fuck’n old coot. Yer the only one cheating.”
“Well, I see things haven’t changed in here since last week.” William said as he sat down on a barstool.
“How are things going Sarah?” William asked.
“Good so far, same as any other day. Just listening to all the lies these old fools are telling.” She said pointing a whisky glass at the old men.
“Aye, harmless fools. But all heroes.” He replied. He was proud of them. Fools or not.
“What are you doing here in the middle of the week? She asked.
“Just deliver’n a letter to Patrick. Have you seen him today?”
“No, haven’t seen him.” She said.
“I heard he has been spending time at the Widow Heandly’s house a lot lately. But I don’t want to spread any rumors.” The short man said with a mischievous grin on his face, interrupting their conversation.
The other card players laughed and gave each other knowing looks. “You, not wanting to spread rumors? That is the biggest lie I have heard today.” The tall one said. His partners all laughed.
“Who is the letter from.” The short man asked.
“His Pa in America.”
“John Kinney? I haven’t heard about him for years. Since the end of the revolt.”
“Yes, he has been gone for a while.” William answered.
“I once heard that he would come back to Ireland and finish what he started.” The oldest man continued.
“I admit I have heard the same thing.” William said taking a long drink of his ale.
“Do you think the letter has anything to do with that? Maybe it is some signal to Patrick to get things started again.” The short man wondered out loud, wishing for more gossip that he could spread.
“Perhaps. But we can’t jump to conclusions. Let us just keep this to ourselves until we see Patrick and see what is in the letter.”
“My lips are sealed.” The short man promised.
“Lips are sealed, are they? Your lips are no more sealed than Lydia Weamick’s lips in Wicklow. You old coot. You are both gossips.” The oldest man said.
The short man was Billy Malone. Billy claimed he stood five feet tall but was debatable. He has always been the constant liar of the old timers, telling the most exciting war stories. Whether real or not, only God knew, but the stories were entertaining. He also enjoyed stirring the pot with his gossip about others in the pub and the village. His wrinkled round face and grey mustache highlighted the smile he always seemed to have. Especially after a few pints.
In contrast the older, of the three sitting next to him was James Mallory, a tall, heavy-set man who always bragged about his early days of fighting in the ring. And who was very good at topping everyone else’s stories. Apparently, James had done it all. Just ask him.
The third man was his friend Bill Sullivan. He was the wise scholar of the three. A lifelong friend of John Kinney. He wore a pair of wire rimmed glasses that he peered over when he looked at you. Bill had been an officer in the British army for 21 years. He moved back to Grenealy after his time spent in India and after his retirement. Bill was a man of the world, well dressed, meticulous, intelligent. And a good friend.
“I am guess’n it is about the revolt.” Mallory finally chimed in.
“Yeah, you would know. You know everything.” Sullivan said under his breath.
“Well, I guess we will find out when Patrick reads the letter. Till then let’s keep this to ourselves. No need getting people upset.” William said. Looking directly at Billy. “You hear me, Billy?”
“Yeah, mums the word.” Billy mumbled.
“Where is Patrick?” William asked Sarah again since he was interrupted the first time he asked.
“He said he had some important business to take care of in the village.” Sarah answered.
“Yeah sure if you call business with the widow Heandly important business.” Billy said, interrupting again.
“I will go look’n for him. Be back soon.” Billy said hopping off his stool.
“Wait! Don’t say anything….” William yelled at Billy.
But Billy was already leaving the pub.
An hour had passed since Billy left to find Patrick. So far there was no sign of Patrick, but ten more towns’ people had arrived at the pub, asking William about the letter. And more were arriving every few minutes. All asking about the letter.
“What is that fool doing?” William asked Bran.
“He is out there running his mouth about Patrick’s letter. Stirring the pot.” Bran said, taking another drink of his third ale.
“Well, he has certainly stirred it.” William said, as Francis Baldemar, the blacksmith, was walking towards him.
“Hello William.” Francis said, shaking William’s hand.
“Hello Francis, can I buy ya an ale.”
“No thank you. I’m still working. I just stopped by to see if the news is true.”
“And what news would that be?” William asked.
“I heard from my wife that Billy is telling everyone about the new rebellion that will soon start. He says it is all explained in the letter yer delivering to Patrick.”
“Rebellion? There has been no talk of rebellions. We aven’t even read the letter.”
“Do you believe anything coming out of Billy’s mouth?”
“No, not normally but the legend…”
“John Kinney has only become a legend because of people gossiping. People like Billy and your wife.” William said, waving Sarah for another ale.
“But I will say this. If there is a new rebellion coming. John would be one person who would know. He still has a lot of clout in Wicklow, even from America.”
Sarah brought the pint of ale to William along with a bottle of whisky and two glasses.
“Have one with me?” She asked, holding up the bottle.
William nodded. Bran walked over and stood by William as they drank the whisky.
“Why don’t you just open the letter?”
“I can not do that. It is addressed to Patrick.”
“But the whole town is waiting to hear what John has to say.”
More people had entered the pub, all were drinking and talking about the letter. The pub was almost full and the smoke from pipes was so thick that Sarah had to open the doors.
“Where the hell is Patrick?” William muttered.
William was at wits end answering questions about the letter to almost everyone who walked in the pub. Billy finally arrived.
“Where ave you been?” William asked trying not to show his anger.
“I told you I was looking for Patrick.”
“And spreading rumors! Look at the mess you have started.” William said pointing at the crowd.
“Did you at least find him?”
“Yes. He was at widow Heandly’s house. Has been there all afternoon.”
“And how pray tell did ya find him there.” William’s anger was ready to explode.
“Oh, I had forgotten Patrick told me he would be there all afternoon before he left today.”
“Yes, he told me as he was leav’n this morning. I only remembered when I walked by her house earlier.”
William calmly took a drink of his ale. Trying to keep his anger in check.
“Earlier? Did ya tell him that I am looking for him?”
“Then what took you so long?”
“Well, we had some tea with the widow.”
“Yes, she does not drink spirits. You know, Jesus and all of that.” He said crossing himself.
“The two of you left me here with all of this.” He said pointing around the pub. “While you were drinking tea with widow Heandly?
“Ok, where is Patrick?”
“On his way here. Sarah, can I av an ale?” He said waving to Sarah.
Fifteen minutes passed and Patrick finally arrived. The crowd parted as he walked through the pub to William seated at the bar. The once noisy room was now silent. All waiting to hear the fate that awaited the town and indeed the country, once the letter was opened.
“Hello William.” Patrick said as he hugged his cousin. “How was your ride here?”
“Hello Patrick. It was a good ride. How was your tea? Did she serve biscuits?” William asked sarcastically.
“Yes, tea and biscuits. Very proper. She used her fine China. She is an incredibly beautiful woman you know?”
“Yes, I have heard.” William said taking the letter out of the mailbag. “Now for the reason I and it seems the rest of the town, are here.” He said, as he handed Patrick the letter.
“From my Pa.” He said looking at the address.
“What do you think this is all about?” Patrick knew his father was to notify him with the details of a new rebellion when the time was right. He had not heard from him in a couple of years.
“Open it and let us all find out.” William said.
Patrick walked over and stood next to the fireplace where the light was better and opened the envelop. He read the letter with a serious look on his face and then turned it over checking the other side. It was blank.
Patrick dropped the letter and the envelop into the fire and watched it burn to a white ash and then walked back to the bar and sat down next to William.
“Well, what did it say?” Someone in the pub asked.
“It said, Dear Patrick, Happy Birthday.” Patrick said as he grabbed his beer.
“Is it your birthday then?” Someone else asked.
“No, my birthday was two months ago.”
“Nothing of a new revolt?” Another asked.
There was a commotion from the crowd as they all wondered why all the fuss about the letter was made by Billy.
“Well, happy late birthday Patrick!” William said, raising his glass. “It seems your father threw you a surprise birthday party all the way from America.” William said laughing. “Drink up everyone! Have a good time since we are all here now.”
Bran came over and stood between Patrick and William at the bar.
“Does this mean there is not going to be another rebellion? He asked William.
“I guess not. What do you think Patrick?” William asked.
“I seems unlikely at this point. At least everyone is having an enjoyable time. We have not had a town meeting for a long time.” He said, looking at the crowd talking and laughing.
Billy walked over, drink in his hand and his pipe between his teeth.
“Happy birthday Patrick. I must av missed it a couple of months ago.”
“Thanks, Billy, as did everyone.”
“I guess your meddling in other people’s business and gossiping worked out this time. But you got lucky.” William said.
“I guess a party is better than a rebellion. But I must admit I would prefer the later. Goodnight then, I must get home.” Billy said as he staggered away.
After a couple of hours, the party had died down. Only William and Patrick remained as Sarah and Ellie were cleaning tables and sweeping the floor.
“So, cousin. I have one important question for you.” William said.
“And what might that be?”
William took one last gulp of ale from his mug and looked Patrick in the eyes.
“What else was in the letter?”
Patrick winked at his cousin and finished his ale.
“I will tell ya later cousin. But for now, I have more business with the widow Heandly.”
- The Irish Letter - March 17, 2023