This section is from the book "Legendary Fictions Of The Irish Celts", by Patrick Kennedy. Also available from Amazon: Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts.
A lady in the neighbourhood of that old town, much celebrated for her charities, died, and great sorrow was felt for her loss. Many masses were celebrated, and many prayers offered up for the repose of her soul, and there was a moral certainty of her salvation among her acquaintance. One evening, after the family had retired to rest, a servant girl in the house, a great favourite with her late mistress, was sitting beside the fire, enjoying the dreamy comfort of a hard-worked person after the day's fatigues, and just before the utter forgetfulness of sleep. Her mind was wandering to her late loved mistress, when she was startled by a sensation in her instep, as if it were trodden upon. " Bad manners to you for a dog," said she, suspecting the "coley" of the house to be the offender. But to her great terror, when she looked down and round the hearth, she could see no living thing. "Who's that?" she cried out, with the teeth chattering in her head. " It is I," was the answer, and the dead lady became visible to her. " Oh, mistress darling! " said she, " What is disturbing you, and can I do anything for you? " " You can do a little," said the spirit, " and that is the reason I have appeared to you. Every day and every hour some one of my friends are lamenting me, and speaking of my goodness, and that is tormenting me in the other world. All my charities were done only for the pleasure of having myself spoken well of, and they are now prolonging my punishment. The only real good I ever did was to give, once, half-a crown to a poor scholar that was studying to be a priest, and charging him to say nothing about it. That was the only good act that followed me into the other wTorld. And now you must tell my husband and my children to speak well of my past life no more, or I will haunt you night after night." The appearance, the next moment, was no longer there, and the poor girl fainted the moment it vanished. When she recovered, she hastened into her settle-bed, and covered herself up, head and all, and cried and sobbed till morning.
Every one wrondered the next day to see such a troubled countenance. But she went through her business one way or other, though she could not make up her mind to tell her master what she had seen and heard. She dreaded the quiet hour of rest; and well she might, for the displeased lady visited her again at the same hour, and reproached her for her neglect. Three times she endured the dread visits before she made the required revelation.
Some readers will give us no thanks for the next two sketches ; of course we feel all suitable sorrow.
fiction, Irish, Celtic myths, sacred text, St. Patrick, stories