A year passed, and to Dublin came the bishop of Killaloe with his bottlenose and stiff neck that bulged out behind like the crest of a fighting bull. The bishop had read my father's book on Irenaeus, and after hearing him preach at Saint Mary's Church where he was curate, made him an offer he could not refuse on account of my mother's poor health. She needed a change. The country was the place for her, in the opinion of Doctor Kidd. So we moved to a parish in Tipperary.
Cleary's circus had come to town. Posters announced in addition to the usual performing elephants, bears and horses, the CINEMATOGRAPH—the first living, moving, lifesized photographs ever shown in Ireland.
My father promised to take me to the afternoon performance, I talked over the matter with Harry Lewis and Georgie Cooper, the sons of the local managers of the National and of the Provincial banks, when we met at the cesspool below the quarry and the urban ashpits, or dumping-ground, where we always assembled when matters of importance were to be discussed, the prevailing odors assuring us of a degree of privacy. Georgie said there were no such things as moving lifesize pictures. Harry asked if he was willing to bet on it. Georgie had threepence and a sling, Harry threepence ha'penny and a sucker. But there was more leather in the sling than in the sucker. Called upon to arbitrate, I judged the wagers equal and became stakeholder. When I had taken possession of the stakes, Harry produced a thick little book about an inch and a half square. It consisted of a series of pen and ink pictures of the Corbett Fitzsimmons fight and, to my surprise—and Georgie's chagrin these pictures became animated when Harry ran his thumb along the edge of the book, exposing each one for the fraction of a second.
Though discouraged, Georgie was not entirely convinced. He objected strongly when Harry suggested that the sling and the threepenny piece should be handed over then and there. I sided with Georgie, taking into account that these were now in my possession.
The eve of the circus the three of us went to the public green below the dumping-ground where the tents were being pitched to try and get the lowdown on the Cinematograph. Harry talked to a canvasman who confirmed what the posters said. But I decided that no bets should be paid until I had seen it myself. I left Harry and Georgie to go and talk to a friend of mine named Mike, a stonebreaker. He was breaking stones for roadmending opposite the dumping-ground. Mike was a Fenian, and often gave me fossils that he found in the stones from the quarry, which was below sealevel. He had run out of chewing tobacco, but could not leave his work to go after a new supply. I offered to run this errand for him, so he pushed up his blue goggles and gave me two pennies. When I had bought the tobacco I started back, but another friend, named Jerry, came along. Jerry was something between a sheepdog and an Irish terrier. His hobby was chasing stones. If he was on intimate terms with you he would drop one at your feet for you to throw, and, if you did not take the hint, would jump all over you, barking like mad, and get your clothes all over mud. On this occasion he dropped one in front of me and wagged his tail and barked. But I misjudged the weight of the stone and, before Jerry could overtake it, it had crashed through the window of Renahan's drapery shop. For some seconds I could not move. But my faculties were restored by the appearance of a constable. I ran.
"A guinea at the least," said Mr. Renahan to my father at the door.
And as he said it, the County Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary drove up in his dog-cart. When the 'County' got down and came up to the door Mr. Renahan said it over again, and the County said to my father:
"The constable on duty told me that your son, with malicious intent, threw a stone at the window and then ran away."
From behind my father I heard him say it, and I realized that it might have looked that way to anyone who had not seen Jerry drop the stone at my feet. Then the County frowned at me and said with an official expression:
"A week in the lock-up—bread and water diet. I should make it a month, but seeing it's his first crime, we won't be too hard.
I saw my mother in the hall and I ran to her.
"I didn't throw the stone at the window, Mumsy. I threw it for Jerry, but the window got in the way."
"Stop teasing the child. He's suffered enough already," she said to the County.
"You're always spoiling the boy, Kathleen," said my father. "I hope you realize we've got to pay Mr. Renahan a guinea."
It was the County who paid for the window. He intimidated Mr. Renahan, whose brother owned Jerry, into accepting five shillings, by threatening to have the dog put in the pound.
"No circus," said my father the next morning when I timidly asked for the price of a ticket. But I had the sling, the sucker and sixpence ha'penny in my possession.
I met Harry and Georgie at the big tent and told them what had happened, explaining that since I could not see the cinematograph, the bet could not be decided. They said all right and to give back the sling and the sucker and the sixpence ha'penny. I refused, and was promptly seized and thrown to the ground and, as I had expected, my pockets were searched. Georgie, who had paid the harness-maker fivepence for his sling, lost his temper and kicked me.
"Don't kick a fellow when he's down," said Harry, getting off my chest.
I jumped up at once and hit Georgie's nose. He started crying and I walked off.
"Now you'll never get anything back!" I shouted to them.
Harry came after me and dragged me back and they finally went halves and got me a seat for threepence and I saw a flickering 'rainy' cinematograph, very black and white, with men running a hurdle race at twice normal speed and a train coming into a station and then scenes of Mr. Somebody in his record breaking though topheavy motorcar, which moved without them, but would, I thought, have looked better with horses.
I was impressed enough to start production at once on my first motion picture, a short. The subject, Richard Coeur-de-Lion cutting off a Saracen's head, had action enough; but the result—twenty drawings, starting with Richard drawing his sword and ending when the Saracen's head and trunk parted company in a gush of red pencil—had technical flaws not apparent in the Corbett Fitzsimmons production. The movement was jerky. A defect due partly to an oversight on my part: a slight variation in scale in all of the drawings, and partly to an uneven stitching job by Bridget, who had sewed them together.