Bellicose is the word for the roaring fighters in The Challenge by
Liam O'Flaherty, typical of his humorous and lyrical understanding
of a certain kind of Irishman. His old friend, Sean O'Faolain, has
said of O'Flaherty: "Wonder is his weapon and folly is his enemy
. . . one feels that O'Flaherty writes in a kind of fury." In his short
story the fury is reflected in his characters, as well as quite a lot of
THE FAIR was almost over. The street cleaners were already at work on the western end of the great square. Down there the ground looked like the surface of a flooded bog after the heavy rain that had fallen almost constantly during the afternoon. The slush rose in a thick brown wave before the massive brooms of the sweepers.
Some horses still remained unsold on the high ground at the northeastern corner. There was a little group of meny around each horse. They had the collars of their greatcoats turned up about their ears, as protection against the cold east wind. Jobbers walked briskly from group to group.
A long row of red-wheeled carts stood before the taverns, from which the sound of drunken singing issued in ever-changing volume. Women sat patiently in the carts, waiting until their men were ready to quit drinking and go home. Here and there, a man could be seen lying on his back in a cart, one arm thrown limply across his face. A party of four civic guards stood outside the door of the farthest tavern, trying to pacify two men who had been quarreling.
In the space between the horses and the carts, a large crowd faced the gable end of the little house in which pigs are weighed. They stood in a wide half circle, watching the antics of a tinker couple. The tinker's wife sat on an orange box against the wall of the house. She had a leash to which a white hound was attached ins