The House on the Borderland
1. The Finding Of The Manuscript
RIGHT AWAY in the west of Ireland lies a tiny hamlet called Kraighten. It is situated,
alone, at the base of a low hill. Far around there spreads a waste of bleak and totally
inhospitable country; where, here and there at great intervals, one may come upon the
ruins of some long desolate cottage--unthatched and stark. The whole land is bare and
unpeopled, the very earth scarcely covering the rock that lies beneath it, and with which
the country abounds, in places rising out of the soil in wave-shaped ridges. Yet, in spite
of its desolation, my friend Tonnison and I had elected to spend our vacation there. He
had stumbled on the place, by mere chance, the year previously, during the course of a
long walking tour, and discovered the possibilities for the angler, in a small and unnamed
river that runs past the outskirts of the little village.
I have said that the river is without name; I may add that no map that I have hitherto
consulted has shown either village or stream. They seem to have entirely escaped
observation: indeed, they might never exist for all that the average guide tells one.
Possibly, this can be partly accounted for by the fact that the nearest railway-station
(Ardrahan) is some forty miles distant.
It was early one warm evening when my friend and I arrived in Kraighten. We had
reached Ardrahan the previous night, sleeping there in rooms hired at the village post-
office, and leaving in good time on the following morning, clinging insecurely to one of
the typical jaunting cars.
It had taken us all day to accomplish our journey over some of the roughest tracks
imaginable, with the result that we were thoroughly tired and somewhat bad tempered.
However, the tent had to be erected, and our goods stowed away, before we could think
of food or rest. And so we set to work, with the aid of our driver, and soon had the tent
up, upon a small patch of ground just outside the little village, and quite near to the river.
Then, having stored all our belongings, we dismissed the driver, as he had to make his
way back as speedily as possible, and told him to come across to us at the end of a
fortnight. We had brought sufficient provisions to last us for that space of time, and water
we could get from the stream. Fuel we did not need, as we had included a small oil-stove
among our outfit, and the weather was fine and warm.
It was Tonnison's idea to camp out instead of getting lodgings in one of the cottages. As
he put it, there was no joke in sleeping in a room with a numerous family of healthy Irish
in one corner, and the pig-sty in the other, while over-head a ragged colony of roosting
fowls distributed their blessings impartially, and the whole place so full of peat smoke
that it made a fellow sneeze his head off just to put it inside the doorway.
Tonnison had got the stove lit now, and was busy cutting slices of bacon into the frying-
pan; so I took the kettle and walked down to the river for water. On the way, I had to pass