It’s hard to understand the ways of a woman and Bridget, wife of Patrick Molloy from remotest Mayo was no exception.
They lived on the side of the bog and didn’t normally see another soul from one week to the next, unless Patrick might take the donkey and cart and ride into the nearest village for essential supplies.
Anyway Bridget got it into her head that he was taking too long about this errand and that he must have found another woman and was about to abandon her to her fate.
If you could only see the shapes of Patrick, you would understand better why the very thought of it is outrageous.
But she would not be shaken from her belief and Patrick had to take all sorts of precautions not to set her temper flaring. With her attitude, she had already cut him off from all his relations.
One day Patrick was out digging in the bog, and what did he come upon but a bit of a mirror?
Now Patrick had never seen a mirror before and was totally startled when he glanced into it.
‘Well, be the hoult!’ he exclaimed.
‘My dear departed father, it is!
And what’s his image doing out here in the middle of the bog?’
He was astonished not just at the resemblance, but at the fact that the image moved about in its frame.
He secreted the mirror away in his pocket, so that he could glance, from time to time, at the treasured picture of his dear father. He knew it would set his wife’s head astray, so he told her nothing.
But as it happened, she espied him furtively glancing at it while he was out in the fields and her curiosity was greatly aroused.
She waited until he was abed and fast asleep before she drew the article out of his pocket and glanced into it.
Patrick was aroused from sleep by the most awful howling and wailing.
‘What’s the matter with you, woman!’ he scolded.
‘Can a man not get a bit of peace, even when he’s sleeping?’
‘Ah, you take me for the quare fool, Patrick Molloy.
I knew you were seeing another woman all the time.
And I saw you constantly looking at her picture that you kept in yer pocket.
I wouldn’t have minded so much, but now that I’ve seen her I am greatly shocked.
Shure, isn’t she nothing on’y a wrinkled ugly-luking aul’ hag!?’