Salvation, page 4
drink, be better if you shared it, wherever ye get it from. Don’t ye be keeping it to yourself. How will you find the workhouse thief if you’re drunk?
PADDY. We’re even so missus? I’ll leave ye here with your lunacy?
MARY. Ye are friendly with my boy Aidan are ye not?
PADDY. I am. Good lad.
MARY. He is a ‘good lad’. Ye are wearing his shoes.
PADDY. Won them fairly.
MARY. I'll uncover how you got them cards back from my dormitory. You'll see. 'Twas gambling that led ye here was it not, Patrick?
PADDY. More cryptic talk. I don't recall how I came to be here. I woke up in the infirmary one day and this was me life.
MARY. Ye were a gambler outside of this place. From what I can gather you were well to do.
PADDY. Who have ye been talking to?
MARY. I have friends. Talkers. Listeners. The exchanging of information keeps my house in order.
PADDY. What else do you know?
MARY. Married. Widower. Was it losing your home by playin' cards that led to her death?
PADDY. (Getting in her face) Ye have no right to be speaking of the late Mrs. O'Doherty. Who have ye been talking to?
MARY. Some say Patrick O'Doherty was a thief on the outside, a crafty fellow and a jester. One wonders what could be hidden in that pouch of yours.
PADDY. How you have come to know this is of great interest to me, missus. I will find out about yourself. And then ye can suffer the conceit of a man who knows why and how ye came to be such a mysterious bitch.
MARY. (Laughs) Sure, I am only a feeble old woman. I have no bother telling you the truth. If you look into my past all you will find is a woman who has dedicated her life to God and had a misfortune during the famine. My story is the same as thousands of Irish.
PADDY. (Sarcastically) Amen.
MARY. Have ye been planting things in my Aidan's head?
PADDY. What things?
MARY. He wants to marry, to get out of this house.
PADDY. Well for him! Gets him away from ye. But no missus, I have not been talking to the boy. Sure, I need him here so I can win everything he owns with the cards.
MARY. God will save my son and deliver him from the evil that is Patrick O'Doherty.
PADDY. Gah! I can’t be living with this constant religious talk. Standing in this room gives me an itch, like insects crawling all about me.
MARY. 'Tis because you do not love God enough. The fever is in this house because inmates like you do not pray from their souls.
PADDY. I pray enough missus, for all the good it does. The fever is here because some eejit came in with it and spread himself about. It has rushed through us like a fire. Our prayers have brought new nurses and medicine. I am thankful for such.
MARY. What do you know of the new nurse?
PADDY. She’s a good nurse.
PADDY. And what missus?
MARY. Have you seen Aidan with her?
PADDY. (Quickly) No.
MARY. Are ye certain of that?
PADDY. All I know is that she’s good at what she does and she has no bother asking men to take their shirts off. Now, I’m never showin' her my hairy chest.
MARY. Was she being a whore, asking for your chest?
PADDY. Missus, ye need a nurse with the ideas you get up there. (In her head) Ye know why I wouldn’t show her me chest, Jesus.
MARY. The Lords name, Patrick.
PADDY. (To the ceiling, sarcastically) Please accept my humblest apologies for using Your name in an irreverent way! Oh please! Please! Grant me grace and lead me to paradise oh Great One, hear me and forgive me before You strike me down with an unimaginable force.
PADDY. Where's the lightning? Where's the thunder? (Pause) Huh? Show Yourself! I'm asking Ya, telling Ya! Show Yourself! Come on, where are Ye? Where is He missus?
MARY. Inmates like yourself are ruining our good work.
PADDY. No good has presented itself in the five months I've been here, for Jesus’ sake.
MARY. The Lord, Patrick.
PADDY. Can be crucified all over again for all I care.
MARY. For your sins, Patrick. There are many.
PADDY. Ye cannot help the sinnin’ when livin’ here, missus. Look at me, me clothes, cut from different cloths. Sin. Me hands, unclean. Sin. (He spits on the ground) Sin.
MARY. I am not understanding much in these present times.
PADDY. Maybe ye need a lie down for yourself? Lord knows we need a rest from you.
PADDY. Of all the women I'm split up from in this place why is it ye that I'm nearest the most? I was unfortunate enough to be cast down to this house but then have to work next to ye in the infirmary? I'll tell ye one thing, God is good with the jokes, now. This, I find, very humorous.
MARY. I wish ye could see the light, Patrick, I really do. I wish everyone could see the light.
PADDY. All this talk of hell and damnation, of ugly sins and impurities. No one is listening. We are the damned and nobody wants to rescue us.
MARY. (Sadly, sitting) I’m only trying to do what’s best for this house.
PADDY. (Pause, compassionately) The nurse is here now and she will save us. Be thinking that God sent her and that our prayers have been answered. Ye should rest for yourself.
Mary tries her best to smile at him.
PADDY. (Reluctantly) Do ye need anything doing whilst ye have a lay down?
MARY. (Thinking) There is a leak in my dormitory.
PADDY. Consider it fixed.
MARY. Also, a cart needs pulling for the laundry.
PADDY. Have ye rope?
MARY. (Taking the rope out of her apron) Be sure to be bringing this back to me.
PADDY. (Taking the rope and tying it around his waist) Where will ye be?
MARY. My prayers need answers. I will remain here for a spell and try harder to find them.
PADDY. Good luck to you, missus. Please do not be telling others about what ye know. Mrs. O'Doherty is in heaven now and deserves peace.
MARY. Look after my boy. Deliver him from evil and my mouth will go unopened.
PADDY. I will, missus. But be sure to know the boy is changing.
MARY. Not my boy!
Mary goes back to praying, her eyes closed tight, it looks as though she is fit to burst.
MARY. (Making the sign of the cross. To the ceiling) The devil did bring a whore into this place! Oh my dear Lord, now I understand why You have been unable to answer my prayers. The devil has clawed his way over and Your word is not being used enough! Believe in me oh Lord and I will get You back to Your rightful position.
She makes the sign of the cross.
A noise can be heard, Mary quickly hides behind the altar.
Deirdre crashes in, distressed. She has another flower attached to her hair. She kneels, composes herself and closes her eyes tightly.
DEIRDRE. (Praying) Please Lord, I am in trouble. I pray for Margaret Finney. The first inmate to die since I arrived. (Beat) Guardian Power has asked an unreasonable request of me. He is a married man. Please, my Lord, the devil lies within him and I will be taken too if You do not appear. Also, forgive Mary Morrissey for her ignorance. She must soon understand the good work of nurses. Make Your presence felt here, I need You more than ever. (Beat) I must thank You for Mr. Aidan Kirwan. He has shown great kindness. But I fear my past is coming back to haunt me. I fear for him too, as he appears unwell. Give me the strength to help me pass these difficult times, my Lord. Amen.
Aidan enters with bucket and washcloth. He is whistling his tune.
AIDAN. Nurse Jacob?
DEIRDRE. Aidan. Here to clean. I will leave you.
AIDAN. You're upset?
Aidan kneels next to her and takes the flower out of Deirdre's hair without her noticing. He throws it away.
AIDAN. (She removes his arm) She was old and it's nearly winter.
DEIRDRE. There is evil in this place.
AIDAN. You're doing a good job.
DEIRDRE. Guardian Power doesn’t seem to think so.
AIDAN. He can go and throw himself in a fire.
She smiles at him.
AIDAN. Ye have a beautiful smile.
Awkwardness. She moves away from him.
DEIRDRE. It's not safe.
AIDAN. (Going to her) We're alone.
DEIRDRE. Guardian Power reprimanded me for the death. He has invited me to his quarters this evening to talk and eat supper.
Aidan turns away from her.
DEIRDRE. He also gave me flowers yesterday.
Aidan takes a small seashell from his pocket and hands it to her.
DEIRDRE. What’s this?
AIDAN. I wanted to give you a gift. Do you not like it? I found it in the yard yesterday. You don't see many of them, maybe it's worth something?
DEIRDRE. A seashell? (Laughing) There’s thousands of these on every strand in the country!
AIDAN. I've never been on a strand. Will ye stop with your laughing?
DEIRDRE. Oh, Aidan, it is very kind of you. Really, most kind. But…
AIDAN. I am but a fool.
DEIRDRE. You are not. You are not. This is a dear gift and I thank you. Why did you get me this?
AIDAN. I thought you would like it and in turn make you like me.
DEIRDRE. I do like you Aidan Kirwan. We must take care, we must not be known of.
AIDAN. What will ye do about Power?
DEIRDRE. Simply tell him the day has been hard and I am too tired to accept his invitation. He won't like it and if he forces me to supper with him I will have to be the most challenging guest he has ever had!
AIDAN. You're not worried about the trouble?
DEIRDRE. Trouble may befall us with any steps we take. My parents ran a surgery and soup-kitchen in Dungarvan. The paupers and