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The mother, Maurya, is convinced that her son, Michael, has drowned at sea. She even tells her other remaining son, Bartley, to leave the rope so they can use it to lower Michael into his grave when he does wash ashore. Prior to Maurya's statement about the rope, Maurya had been in bed. Her daughters, Nora and Cathleen, were talking. The young priest had brought an unidentified, young man's clothes and Nora intended to find out if they are the clothes of her brother, Michael. Knowing that their mother, Maurya, has already lost her husband, father-in-law, and four other sons, Cathleen decides to hide the clothes so the mother will not dwell on the possibility that they are Michael's clothes.
Cathleen: Give me the ladder, and I'll put them up in the turf-loft, the way she won't know of them at all, and maybe when the tide turns she'll be going down to see would he be floating from the east.
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