As I bent to the task, he threw in the odd compliment as to how well I was doing, the good shape I made of the work.
It wasn’t true.. I pushed myself hard to keep pace with the other workers, all the time apprising him of the goings-on in Mourne.
I knew rightly, when he said that my hiking shorts were a grand idea for the corn field, that he was taking a han’ out ‘o me. ‘I must get a pair myself,’ he concluded, to the grins of his surrounding family.
The bending and stretching, the midges and the thistles, made tying corn harder than half a day on the hills.
Blessed relief came when we were brought down to the house for the midday meal. Floury potatoes, good salt bacon, strong tea, soda bread and butter made up for the aches and stings.
By daylight gone, the field was shaven, the stooks ranked in the mountain dusk like trim battalions standing easy before bivouac.
Our supper in the stone-floored kitchen was prodigious, the bread fresh from the griddle, two fresh eggs each and as much tea as we could drink.
Sore and stung and jagged as I was, I had a sense of pride in helping to bring in the sheaves. He left me a piece on the road. His words on parting rang a little hollow.
‘I must admit, young fellow,’ he said, ‘That I’m not as good as I was at judging the weather.
I could have sworn it would have turned out wet.
Ah, well, sure you got your day’s exercise none the less!’
… end …