By reason of the many years which he had spent in the gloomy pine wood, the Philosopher could see a little in the darkness, and when he found there was no longer any hold on his coat he continued his journey quietly, marching along with his head sunken on his breast in a deep abstraction. He was meditating on the word “Me,” and endeavouring to pursue it through all its changes and adventures. The fact of “me-ness” was one which startled him. He was amazed at his own being. He knew that the hand which he held up and pinched with another hand was not him and the endeavour to find out what was him was one which had frequently exercised his leisure. He had not gone far when there came a tug at his sleeve and looking down he found one of the Leprecauns of the Gort trotting by his side.

“Noble Sir,” said the Leprecaun, “you are terrible hard to get into conversation with. I have been talking to you for the last long time and you won’t listen.”

“I am listening now,” replied the Philosopher.

“You are, indeed,” said the Leprecaun heartily. “My brothers are on the other side of the road over there beyond the hedge, and they want to talk to you: will you come with me, Noble Sir?”

“Why wouldn’t I go with you?” said the Philosopher, and he turned aside with the Leprecaun.

They pushed softly through a gap in the hedge and into a field beyond.

“Come this way, sir,” said his guide, and the Philosopher followed him across the field. In a few minutes they came to a thick bush among the leaves of which the other Leprecauns were hiding. They thronged out to meet the Philosopher’s approach and welcomed him with every appearance of joy. With them was the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, who embraced her husband tenderly and gave thanks for his escape.

“The night is young yet,” remarked one of the Leprecauns. “Let us sit down here and talk about what should be done.”

“I am tired enough,” said the Philosopher, “for I have been travelling all yesterday, and all this day and the whole of this night I have been going also, so I would be glad to sit down anywhere.”

They sat down under the bush and the Philosopher lit his pipe. In the open space where they were there was just light enough to see the smoke coming from his pipe, but scarcely more. One recognized a figure as a deeper shadow than the surrounding darkness; but as the ground was dry and the air just touched with a pleasant chill, there was no discomfort. After the Philosopher had drawn a few mouthfuls of smoke he passed his pipe on to the next person, and in this way his pipe made the circuit of the party.

“When I put the children to bed,” said the Thin Woman, “I came down the road in your wake with a basin of stirabout, for you had no time to take your food, God help you! and I was thinking you must have been hungry.”

“That is so,” said the Philosopher in a very anxious voice: “but I don’t blame you, my dear, for letting the basin fall on the road⁠—”

“While I was going along,” she continued, “I met these good people and when I told them what happened they came with me to see if anything could be done. The time they ran out of the hedge to fight the policemen I wanted to go with them, but I was afraid the stirabout would be spilt.”

The Philosopher licked his lips.

“I am listening to you, my love,” said he.

“So I had to stay where I was with the stirabout under my shawl⁠—”

“Did you slip then, dear wife?”

“I did not, indeed,” she replied: “I have the stirabout with me this minute. It’s rather cold, I’m thinking, but it is better than nothing at all,” and she placed the bowl in his hands.

“I put sugar in it,” said she shyly, “and currants, and I have a spoon in my pocket.”

“It tastes well,” said the Philosopher, and he cleaned the basin so speedily that his wife wept because of his hunger.

By this time the pipe had come round to him again and it was welcomed.

“Now we can talk,” said he, and he blew a great cloud of smoke into the darkness and sighed happily.

“We were thinking,” said the Thin Woman, “that you won’t be able to come back to our house for a while yet: the policemen will be peeping about Coille Doraca for a long time, to be sure; for isn’t it true that if there is a good thing coming to a person, nobody takes much trouble to find him, but if there is a bad thing or a punishment in store for a man, then the whole world will be searched until he be found?”

“It is a true statement,” said the Philosopher.

“So what we arranged was this⁠—that you should go to live with these little men in their house under the yew tree of the Gort. There is not a policeman in the world would find you there; or if you went by night to the Brugh of the Boyne, Angus Óg himself would give you a refuge.”

One of the Leprecauns here interposed.

“Noble Sir,” said he, “there isn’t much room in our house but there’s no stint of welcome in it. You would have a good time with us travelling on moonlit nights and seeing strange things, for we often go to visit the Shee of the Hills and they come to see us; there is always something to talk about, and we have dances in the caves and on the tops of the hills. Don’t be imagining now that we have a poor life for there is fun and plenty with us and the Brugh of Angus Mac an Óg is hard to be got at.”

“I would like to dance, indeed,” returned the Philosopher, “for I do believe that dancing is the first and last duty of man. If we cannot be gay what can we be? Life is not any use at all unless we find a laugh here and there⁠—but this time, decent men of the Gort, I cannot go with you, for it is laid on me to give myself up to the police.”

“You would not do that,” exclaimed the Thin Woman pitifully: “You wouldn’t think of doing that now!”

“An innocent man,” said he, “cannot be oppressed, for he is fortified by his mind and his heart cheers him. It is only on a guilty person that the rigour of punishment can fall, for he punishes himself. This is what I think, that a man should always obey the law with his body and always disobey it with his mind. I have been arrested, the men of the law had me in their hands, and I will have to go back to them so that they may do whatever they have to do.”

The Philosopher resumed his pipe, and although the others reasoned with him for a long time they could not by any means remove him from his purpose. So, when the pale glimmer of dawn had stolen over the sky, they arose and went downwards to the crossroads and so to the Police Station.

Outside the village the Leprecauns bade him farewell and the Thin Woman also took her leave of him, saying she would visit Angus Óg and implore his assistance on behalf of her husband, and then the Leprecauns and the Thin Woman returned again the way they came, and the Philosopher walked on to the barracks.