"Whate?" said Mr Maddigan. "An' for why, tell me, is whate made the darlin' of the parlymint men beyant? 'Tis nothin' but an' old fool I am to be talkin' the way I do, an' me a whate farmer this fifty year gone by since I come out ere before the eighties.
"'Tis small thanks me naybers 'll be givin' me for talkin' the trayson agen me brother whate cockies. But why, I do be axin yourself, why is it whate they do be choosin' to pet an' coddle wid their subsidies an' what not?
"Not that I'm complainin', mind yeh. Sorra's the worrud you'll hear out of me when the kind government pats me on the head and says in a tindir vice of pity: 'Wisha, 'tis the poor old Maddigan, the whate farmer, an' him wid his whate on his hands an' nothin' to ate at all, at all.
"An' I'll be takin' their subsidies an' their sympathy because I'm a whate farmer, an' it's thankin' the powers I'll be that I didn't put me labor an' the sweat of me brow to be growin' onions or praties or wan hundred other things that has not market in the wide world.
"'Tis a puzzle to an old man, so it is, wid your taxes an' your bonuses an' all the addin' an' subtractin' an' mensuratin' that has nayther end nor beginnin' nor rhyme nor rayson. 'Tis bewildered I am entirely wid all your modrun manes an' methods.
"What's wrong wid you all?
"''Tis old Maddigan's the lucky man,' I do hear the young wans sayin' - 'him sittin' back wid his bit of savin's on his fine cleared farm an' everything at his hand for him to reach out an' take it. 'Tis lucky he came in the good old days whin times was properous an' livin' aisy, and no modrun hardship.'
"Hardship, is it? Ah well; may be the soft times of Maddigan an' his like will not be comin' agen, more's the pity. 'Twould be the makin' of many a young man if they did, I'm thinkin'.
"Soft it was, an' aisy it was selectin' your bit of land somwhere at the back of beyant, an' takin' the coach to Brandy Creek wid your bits of sticks an' bundles an' your wives an' childer. Then bein' set down in the middle of nowhere an' thrudgin' thro' the mud, may be, or the hate of a December day to reach your selection an' build your hut.
"'There you are, Maddigan,' says the kind Governmint. 'A fine fertile bit of ground as ever was whin yeh have it cleared and burnt off. Yer a lucky man,' they sez. 'An' we'll not be insultin' yeh wid bonuses or subsidies.'
"Soft an' aisy it was beyond a doubt, an' for why should we complain? But in these hard days, wud the rough livin' an' the -
"Arrah, what's wrong wid yer all?
"An' whin we'd raised our bit of grass an' got our bit of butter an' our eggs an' all an' all, packin' 'em down it was on the back of the old horse wid narry a road to show us the way. An' then we'd bargain wid the store for our bit of groceries and a thrifle of cloth an' cotton as a treat for the old woman.
"An' the prices, man! They'd astonish yer. Fourpence a pound, no less, for our butter!
"Aw, what's wrong wid yer all?
"Thin back agen wid a few vegetable seeds to be raisin' for preserves agen a hard winter, may be. An' we hadn't to brains to be axin' the good governmint to be taxin' this, that or the other so we might have a nice subsidy to be gettin' a new tire for the motey car.
"Shure we had not brains at all, at all. But stout backs we had, an' strong arrums we had, so we done our best wid what we had.
"'Da', says me youngest to me the other day, 'do you think, Da, that this country will ever be seein' the good old times agen?'
"'May be so, son,' I answers him back. 'See thim you may. But the Lord knows will you be likin' thim as well as meself an' yer poor old mother; for we was happy as the flowers in May.'
"'But what was it,' sez he, 'that made yeh happy?'
"'Nothin' in the wide world,' I tells him, 'except that we had n't the time to be discontinted.'
"'Shure, 'tis a quare world," said old Mr Maddigan. "A quare world intirely. But this strange new world that do be growin' up around us - Arrah, what's wrong wid yer all?"
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002|