Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
By James Joyce
After the Race
The Boarding House
A Little Cloud
A Painful Case
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
THERE was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night
after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied
the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it
lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought,
I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew
that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said
to me: "I am not long for this world," and I had thought his words idle.
Now I knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window
I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded
strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word
simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some
maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to
be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.
Old Cotter was sitting at the fire, smoking, when I came downstairs
to supper. While my aunt was ladling out my stirabout he said, as if
returning to some former remark of his:
"No, I wouldn't say he was exactly... but there was something queer...
there was something uncanny about him. I'll tell you my opinion...."
He began to puff at his pipe, no doubt arranging his opinion in his
mind. Tiresome old fool! When we knew him first he used to be rather
interesting, talking of faints and worms; but I soon grew tired of him
and his endless stories about the distillery.
"I have my own theory about it," he said. "I think it was one of
those... peculiar cases.... But it's hard to say...."
He began to puff again at his pipe without giving us his theory. My
uncle saw me staring and said to me:
"Well, so your old friend is gone, you'll be sorry to hear."
"Who?" said I.
"Is he dead?"
"Mr. Cotter here has just told us. He was passing by the house."
I knew that I was under observation so I continued eating as if the news
had not interested me. My uncle explained to old Cotter.
"The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a
great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him."
"God have mercy on his soul," said my aunt piously.
Old Cotter looked at me for a while. I felt that his little beady black
eyes were examining me but I would not satisfy him by looking up from my
plate. He returned to his pipe and finally spat rudely into the grate.
"I wouldn't like children of mine," he said, "to have too much to say to
a man like that."
"How do you mean, Mr. Cotter?" asked my aunt.
"What I mean is," said old Cotter, "it's bad for children. My idea is:
let a young lad run about and play with young lads of his own age and
not be... Am I right, Jack?"
"That's my principle, too," said my uncle. "Let him learn to box his
corner. That's what I'm always saying to that Rosicrucian there: take
exercise. Why, when I was a nipper every morning of my life I had a cold
bath, winter and summer. And that's what stands to me now. Education
is all very fine and large.... Mr. Cotter might take a pick of that leg
mutton," he added to my aunt.
"No, no, not for me," said old Cotter.
My aunt brought the dish from the safe and put it on the table.
"But why do you think it's not good for children, Mr. Cotter?" she
"It's bad for children," said old Cotter, "because their minds are so
impressionable. When children see things like that, you know, it has an
I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my
anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile!
It was late when I fell asleep. Though I was angry with old Cotter for
alluding to me as a child, I puzzled my head to extract meaning from his
unfinished sentences. In the dark of my room I imagined that I saw again
the heavy grey face of the paralytic. I drew the blankets over my head
and tried to think of Christmas. But the grey face still followed me. It
murmured; and I understood that it desired to confess something. I felt
my soul receding into some pleasant and vicious region; and there again
I found it waiting for me. It began to confess to me in a murmuring
voice and I wondered why it smiled continually and why the lips were so
moist with spittle. But then I remembered that it had died of paralysis
and I felt that I too was smiling feebly as if to absolve the simoniac
of his sin.
The next morning after breakfast I went down to look at the little house
in Great Britain Street. It was an unassuming shop, registered under
the vague name of Drapery. The drapery consisted mainly of children's
bootees and umbrellas; and on ordinary days a notice used to hang in the
window, saying: Umbrellas Re-covered. No notice was visible now for
the shutters were up. A crape bouquet was tied to the doork-nocker with
ribbon. Two poor women and a telegram boy were reading the card pinned
on the crape. I also approached and read:
July 1st, 1895
The Rev. James Flynn (formerly of
S. Catherine's Church, Meath Street),
aged sixty-five years.
R. I. P.
The reading of the card persuaded me that he was dead and I was
disturbed to find myself at check. Had he not been dead I would have
gone into the little dark room behind the shop to find him sitting in
his arm-chair by the fire, nearly smothered in his great-coat. Perhaps
my aunt would have given me a packet of High Toast for him and this
present would have roused him from his stupefied doze. It was always I
who emptied the packet into his black snuff-box for his hands trembled
too much to allow him to do this without spilling half the snuff about
the floor. Even as he raised his large trembling hand to his nose little
clouds of smoke dribbled through his fingers over the front of his coat.
It may have been these constant showers of snuff which gave his ancient
priestly garments their green faded look for the red handkerchief,
blackened, as it always was, with the snuff-stains of a week, with which
he tried to brush away the fallen grains, was quite inefficacious.
I wished to go in and look at him but I had not the courage to knock. I
walked away slowly along the sunny side of the street, reading all the
theatrical advertisements in the shopwindows as I went. I found it
strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood and I felt
even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had
been freed from something by his death. I wondered at this for, as my
uncle had said the night before, he had taught me a great deal. He had
studied in the Irish college in Rome and he had taught me to pronounce
Latin properly. He had told me stories about the catacombs and about
Napoleon Bonaparte, and he had explained to me the meaning of the
different ceremonies of the Mass and of the different vestments worn
by the priest. Sometimes he had amused himself by putting difficult
questions to me, asking me what one should do in certain circumstances
or whether such and such sins were mortal or venial or only
imperfections. His questions showed me how complex and mysterious were
certain institutions of the Church which I had always regarded as
the simplest acts. The duties of the priest towards the Eucharist and
towards the secrecy of the confessional seemed so grave to me that I
wondered how anybody had ever found in himself the courage to undertake
them; and I was not surprised when he told me that the fathers of the
Church had written books as thick as the Post Office Directory and as
closely printed as the law notices in the newspaper, elucidating all
these intricate questions. Often when I thought of this I could make
no answer or only a very foolish and halting one upon which he used
to smile and nod his head twice or thrice. Sometimes he used to put me
through the responses of the Mass which he had made me learn by heart;
and, as I pattered, he used to smile pensively and nod his head, now and
then pushing huge pinches of snuff up each nostril alternately. When he
smiled he used to uncover his big discoloured teeth and let his tongue
lie upon his lower lip--a habit which had made me feel uneasy in the
beginning of our acquaintance before I knew him well.
As I walked along in the sun I remembered old Cotter's words and tried
to remember what had happened afterwards in the dream. I remembered
that I had noticed long velvet curtains and a swinging lamp of antique
fashion. I felt that I had been very far away, in some land where the
customs were strange--in Persia, I thought.... But I could not remember
the end of the dream.
In the evening my aunt took me with her to visit the house of mourning.
It was after sunset; but the window-panes of the houses that looked
to the west reflected the tawny gold of a great bank of clouds. Nannie
received us in the hall; and, as it would have been unseemly to have
shouted at her, my aunt shook hands with her for all. The old woman
pointed upwards interrogatively and, on my aunt's nodding, proceeded to
toil up the narrow staircase before us, her bowed head being scarcely
above the level of the banister-rail. At the first landing she stopped
and beckoned us forward encouragingly towards the open door of the
dead-room. My aunt went in and the old woman, seeing that I hesitated to
enter, began to beckon to me again repeatedly with her hand.
I went in on tiptoe. The room through the lace end of the blind was
suffused with dusky golden light amid which the candles looked like pale
thin flames. He had been coffined. Nannie gave the lead and we three
knelt down at the foot of the bed. I pretended to pray but I could not
gather my thoughts because the old woman's mutterings distracted me. I
noticed how clumsily her skirt was hooked at the back and how the heels
of her cloth boots were trodden down all to one side. The fancy came to
me that the old priest was smiling as he lay there in his coffin.
But no. When we rose and went up to the head of the bed I saw that he
was not smiling. There he lay, solemn and copious, vested as for the
altar, his large hands loosely retaining a chalice. His face was very
truculent, grey and massive, with black cavernous nostrils and circled
by a scanty white fur. There was a heavy odour in the room--the flowers.
We blessed ourselves and came away. In the little room downstairs we
found Eliza seated in his arm-chair in state. I groped my way towards my
usual chair in the corner while Nannie went to the sideboard and brought
out a decanter of sherry and some wine-glasses. She set these on the
table and invited us to take a little glass of wine. Then, at her
sister's bidding, she filled out the sherry into the glasses and passed
them to us. She pressed me to take some cream crackers also but I
declined because I thought I would make too much noise eating them. She
seemed to be somewhat disappointed at my refusal and went over quietly
to the sofa where she sat down behind her sister. No one spoke: we all
gazed at the empty fireplace.
My aunt waited until Eliza sighed and then said:
"Ah, well, he's gone to a better world."
Eliza sighed again and bowed her head in assent. My aunt fingered the
stem of her wine-glass before sipping a little.
"Did he... peacefully?" she asked.
"Oh, quite peacefully, ma'am," said Eliza. "You couldn't tell when the
breath went out of him. He had a beautiful death, God be praised."
"Father O'Rourke was in with him a Tuesday and anointed him and prepared
him and all."
"He knew then?"
"He was quite resigned."
"He looks quite resigned," said my aunt.
"That's what the woman we had in to wash him said. She said he just
looked as if he was asleep, he looked that peaceful and resigned. No one
would think he'd make such a beautiful corpse."
"Yes, indeed," said my aunt.
She sipped a little more from her glass and said:
"Well, Miss Flynn, at any rate it must be a great comfort for you to
know that you did all you could for him. You were both very kind to him,
I must say."
Eliza smoothed her dress over her knees.
"Ah, poor James!" she said. "God knows we done all we could, as poor as
we are--we wouldn't see him want anything while he was in it."
Nannie had leaned her head against the sofa-pillow and seemed about to
"There's poor Nannie," said Eliza, looking at her, "she's wore out. All
the work we had, she and me, getting in the woman to wash him and then
laying him out and then the coffin and then arranging about the Mass in
the chapel. Only for Father O'Rourke I don't know what we'd have done at all.
It was him brought us all them flowers and them two candlesticks out of
the chapel and wrote out the notice for the Freeman's General and took
charge of all the papers for the cemetery and poor James's insurance."
"Wasn't that good of him?" said my aunt
Eliza closed her eyes and shook her head slowly.
"Ah, there's no friends like the old friends," she said, "when all is
said and done, no friends that a body can trust."
"Indeed, that's true," said my aunt. "And I'm sure now that he's gone to
his eternal reward he won't forget you and all your kindness to him."
"Ah, poor James!" said Eliza. "He was no great trouble to us. You
wouldn't hear him in the house any more than now. Still, I know he's
gone and all to that...."
"It's when it's all over that you'll miss him," said my aunt.
"I know that," said Eliza. "I won't be bringing him in his cup of
beef-tea any more, nor you, ma'am, sending him his snuff. Ah, poor James!"
She stopped, as if she were communing with the past and then said
"Mind you, I noticed there was something queer coming over him latterly.
Whenever I'd bring in his soup to him there I'd find him with his
breviary fallen to the floor, lying back in the chair and his mouth
She laid a finger against her nose and frowned: then she continued:
"But still and all he kept on saying that before the summer was over
he'd go out for a drive one fine day just to see the old house again
where we were all born down in Irishtown and take me and Nannie with
him. If we could only get one of them new-fangled carriages that makes
no noise that Father O'Rourke told him about--them with the rheumatic
wheels--for the day cheap--he said, at Johnny Rush's over the way there
and drive out the three of us together of a Sunday evening. He had his
mind set on that.... Poor James!"
"The Lord have mercy on his soul!" said my aunt.
Eliza took out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes with it. Then she put
it back again in her pocket and gazed into the empty grate for some time
"He was too scrupulous always," she said. "The duties of the priesthood
was too much for him. And then his life was, you might say, crossed."
"Yes," said my aunt. "He was a disappointed man. You could see that."
A silence took possession of the little room and, under cover of it, I
approached the table and tasted my sherry and then returned quietly to
my chair in the comer. Eliza seemed to have fallen into a deep revery.
We waited respectfully for her to break the silence: and after a long
pause she said slowly:
"It was that chalice he broke.... That was the beginning of it. Of
course, they say it was all right, that it contained nothing, I mean.
But still.... They say it was the boy's fault. But poor James was so
nervous, God be merciful to him!"
"And was that it?" said my aunt. "I heard something...."
"That affected his mind," she said. "After that he began to mope by
himself, talking to no one and wandering about by himself. So one night
he was wanted for to go on a call and they couldn't find him anywhere.
They looked high up and low down; and still they couldn't see a sight
of him anywhere. So then the clerk suggested to try the chapel. So
then they got the keys and opened the chapel and the clerk and Father
O'Rourke and another priest that was there brought in a light for to
look for him.... And what do you think but there he was, sitting up by
himself in the dark in his confession-box, wide-awake and laughing-like
softly to himself?"
She stopped suddenly as if to listen. I too listened; but there was no
sound in the house: and I knew that the old priest was lying still in
his coffin as we had seen him, solemn and truculent in death, an idle
chalice on his breast.
"Wide-awake and laughing-like to himself.... So then, of course, when
they saw that, that made them think that there was something gone wrong
IT WAS Joe Dillon who introduced the Wild West to us. He had a little
library made up of old numbers of The Union Jack, Pluck and The
Halfpenny Marvel. Every evening after school we met in his back garden
and arranged Indian battles. He and his fat young brother Leo, the
idler, held the loft of the stable while we tried to carry it by storm;
or we fought a pitched battle on the grass. But, however well we fought,
we never won siege or battle and all our bouts ended with Joe Dillon's
war dance of victory. His parents went to eight-o'clock mass every
morning in Gardiner Street and the peaceful odour of Mrs. Dillon was
prevalent in the hall of the house. But he played too fiercely for us
who were younger and more timid. He looked like some kind of an Indian
when he capered round the garden, an old tea-cosy on his head, beating a
tin with his fist and yelling:
"Ya! yaka, yaka, yaka!"
Everyone was incredulous when it was reported that he had a vocation for
the priesthood. Nevertheless it was true.
A spirit of unruliness diffused itself among us and, under its
influence, differences of culture and constitution were waived. We
banded ourselves together, some boldly, some in jest and some almost in
fear: and of the number of these latter, the reluctant Indians who
were afraid to seem studious or lacking in robustness, I was one. The
adventures related in the literature of the Wild West were remote from
my nature but, at least, they opened doors of escape. I liked better
some American detective stories which were traversed from time to time
by unkempt fierce and beautiful girls. Though there was nothing wrong
in these stories and though their intention was sometimes literary
they were circulated secretly at school. One day when Father Butler was
hearing the four pages of Roman History clumsy Leo Dillon was discovered
with a copy of The Halfpenny Marvel.
"This page or this page? This page Now, Dillon, up! 'Hardly had the
day'... Go on! What day? 'Hardly had the day dawned'... Have you studied
it? What have you there in your pocket?"
Everyone's heart palpitated as Leo Dillon handed up the paper and
everyone assumed an innocent face. Father Butler turned over the pages,
"What is this rubbish?" he said. "The Apache Chief! Is this what you
read instead of studying your Roman History? Let me not find any more
of this wretched stuff in this college. The man who wrote it, I suppose,
was some wretched fellow who writes these things for a drink. I'm
surprised at boys like you, educated, reading such stuff. I could
understand it if you were... National School boys. Now, Dillon, I advise
you strongly, get at your work or..."
This rebuke during the sober hours of school paled much of the glory of
the Wild West for me and the confused puffy face of Leo Dillon awakened
one of my consciences. But when the restraining influence of the school
was at a distance I began to hunger again for wild sensations, for the
escape which those chronicles of disorder alone seemed to offer me. The
mimic warfare of the evening became at last as wearisome to me as the
routine of school in the morning because I wanted real adventures to
happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to
people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.
The summer holidays were near at hand when I made up my mind to break
out of the weariness of school-life for one day at least. With Leo Dillon
and a boy named Mahony I planned a day's miching. Each of us saved up
sixpence. We were to meet at ten in the morning on the Canal Bridge.
Mahony's big sister was to write an excuse for him and Leo Dillon was to
tell his brother to say he was sick. We arranged to go along the Wharf
Road until we came to the ships, then to cross in the ferryboat and walk
out to see the Pigeon House. Leo Dillon was afraid we might meet Father
Butler or someone out of the college; but Mahony asked, very sensibly,
what would Father Butler be doing out at the Pigeon House. We were
reassured: and I brought the first stage of the plot to an end by
collecting sixpence from the other two, at the same time showing them
my own sixpence. When we were making the last arrangements on the eve we
were all vaguely excited. We shook hands, laughing, and Mahony said:
"Till tomorrow, mates!"
That night I slept badly. In the morning I was first-comer to the bridge
as I lived nearest. I hid my books in the long grass near the ashpit at
the end of the garden where nobody ever came and hurried along the canal
bank. It was a mild sunny morning in the first week of June. I sat up
on the coping of the bridge admiring my frail canvas shoes which I had
diligently pipeclayed overnight and watching the docile horses pulling
a tramload of business people up the hill. All the branches of the tall
trees which lined the mall were gay with little light green leaves and
the sunlight slanted through them on to the water. The granite stone of
the bridge was beginning to be warm and I began to pat it with my hands
in time to an air in my head. I was very happy.
When I had been sitting there for five or ten minutes I saw Mahony's
grey suit approaching. He came up the hill, smiling, and clambered
up beside me on the bridge. While we were waiting he brought out
the catapult which bulged from his inner pocket and explained some
improvements which he had made in it. I asked him why he had brought it
and he told me he had brought it to have some gas with the birds. Mahony
used slang freely, and spoke of Father Butler as Old Bunser. We waited
on for a quarter of an hour more but still there was no sign of Leo
Dillon. Mahony, at last, jumped down and said:
"Come along. I knew Fatty'd funk it."
"And his sixpence...?" I said.
"That's forfeit," said Mahony. "And so much the better for us--a bob and
a tanner instead of a bob."
We walked along the North Strand Road till we came to the Vitriol Works
and then turned to the right along the Wharf Road. Mahony began to play
the Indian as soon as we were out of public sight. He chased a crowd
of ragged girls, brandishing his unloaded catapult and, when two ragged
boys began, out of chivalry, to fling stones at us, he proposed that we
should charge them. I objected that the boys were too small and so we
walked on, the ragged troop screaming after us: "Swaddlers!
Swaddlers!" thinking that we were Protestants because Mahony, who was
dark-complexioned, wore the silver badge of a cricket club in his cap.
When we came to the Smoothing Iron we arranged a siege; but it was a
failure because you must have at least three. We revenged ourselves on
Leo Dillon by saying what a funk he was and guessing how many he would
get at three o'clock from Mr. Ryan.
We came then near the river. We spent a long time walking about the
noisy streets flanked by high stone walls, watching the working of
cranes and engines and often being shouted at for our immobility by the
drivers of groaning carts. It was noon when we reached the quays and, as
all the labourers seemed to be eating their lunches, we bought two big
currant buns and sat down to eat them on some metal piping beside the
river. We pleased ourselves with the spectacle of Dublin's commerce--the
barges signalled from far away by their curls of woolly smoke, the brown
fishing fleet beyond Ringsend, the big white sailing-vessel which was
being discharged on the opposite quay. Mahony said it would be right
skit to run away to sea on one of those big ships and even I, looking at
the high masts, saw, or imagined, the geography which had been scantily
dosed to me at school gradually taking substance under my eyes. School
and home seemed to recede from us and their influences upon us seemed to
We crossed the Liffey in the ferryboat, paying our toll to be
transported in the company of two labourers and a little Jew with a bag.
We were serious to the point of solemnity, but once during the short
voyage our eyes met and we laughed. When we landed we watched the
discharging of the graceful threemaster which we had observed from the
other quay. Some bystander said that she was a Norwegian vessel. I went
to the stern and tried to decipher the legend upon it but, failing to do
so, I came back and examined the foreign sailors to see had any of them
green eyes for I had some confused notion.... The sailors' eyes were
blue and grey and even black. The only sailor whose eyes could have been
called green was a tall man who amused the crowd on the quay by calling
out cheerfully every time the planks fell:
"All right! All right!"
When we were tired of this sight we wandered slowly into Ringsend. The
day had grown sultry, and in the windows of the grocers' shops musty
biscuits lay bleaching. We bought some biscuits and chocolate which
we ate sedulously as we wandered through the squalid streets where the
families of the fishermen live. We could find no dairy and so we went
into a huckster's shop and bought a bottle of raspberry lemonade each.
Refreshed by this, Mahony chased a cat down a lane, but the cat escaped
into a wide field. We both felt rather tired and when we reached the
field we made at once for a sloping bank over the ridge of which we
could see the Dodder.
It was too late and we were too tired to carry out our project of
visiting the Pigeon House. We had to be home before four o'clock lest
our adventure should be discovered. Mahony looked regretfully at his
catapult and I had to suggest going home by train before he regained
any cheerfulness. The sun went in behind some clouds and left us to our
jaded thoughts and the crumbs of our provisions.
There was nobody but ourselves in the field. When we had lain on the
bank for some time without speaking I saw a man approaching from the far
end of the field. I watched him lazily as I chewed one of those green
stems on which girls tell fortunes. He came along by the bank slowly. He
walked with one hand upon his hip and in the other hand he held a stick
with which he tapped the turf lightly. He was shabbily dressed in a suit
of greenish-black and wore what we used to call a jerry hat with a high
crown. He seemed to be fairly old for his moustache was ashen-grey. When
he passed at our feet he glanced up at us quickly and then continued his
way. We followed him with our eyes and saw that when he had gone on for
perhaps fifty paces he turned about and began to retrace his steps. He
walked towards us very slowly, always tapping the ground with his stick,
so slowly that I thought he was looking for something in the grass.
He stopped when he came level with us and bade us good-day. We answered
him and he sat down beside us on the slope slowly and with great care.
He began to talk of the weather, saying that it would be a very hot
summer and adding that the seasons had changed greatly since he was a
boy--a long time ago. He said that the happiest time of one's life was
undoubtedly one's school-boy days and that he would give anything to be
young again. While he expressed these sentiments which bored us a little
we kept silent. Then he began to talk of school and of books. He asked
us whether we had read the poetry of Thomas Moore or the works of Sir
Walter Scott and Lord Lytton. I pretended that I had read every book he
mentioned so that in the end he said:
"Ah, I can see you are a bookworm like myself. Now," he added, pointing
to Mahony who was regarding us with open eyes, "he is different; he goes
in for games."
He said he had all Sir Walter Scott's works and all Lord Lytton's works
at home and never tired of reading them. "Of course," he said, "there
were some of Lord Lytton's works which boys couldn't read." Mahony asked
why couldn't boys read them--a question which agitated and pained me
because I was afraid the man would think I was as stupid as Mahony. The
man, however, only smiled. I saw that he had great gaps in his mouth
between his yellow teeth. Then he asked us which of us had the most
sweethearts. Mahony mentioned lightly that he had three totties. The man
asked me how many had I. I answered that I had none. He did not believe
me and said he was sure I must have one. I was silent.
"Tell us," said Mahony pertly to the man, "how many have you yourself?"
The man smiled as before and said that when he was our age he had lots
"Every boy," he said, "has a little sweetheart."
His attitude on this point struck me as strangely liberal in a man
of his age. In my heart I thought that what he said about boys and
sweethearts was reasonable. But I disliked the words in his mouth and I
wondered why he shivered once or twice as if he feared something or felt
a sudden chill. As he proceeded I noticed that his accent was good. He
began to speak to us about girls, saying what nice soft hair they had
and how soft their hands were and how all girls were not so good as they
seemed to be if one only knew. There was nothing he liked, he said, so
much as looking at a nice young girl, at her nice white hands and her
beautiful soft hair. He gave me the impression that he was repeating
something which he had learned by heart or that, magnetised by some
words of his own speech, his mind was slowly circling round and round in
the same orbit. At times he spoke as if he were simply alluding to some
fact that everybody knew, and at times he lowered his voice and spoke
mysteriously as if he were telling us something secret which he did not
wish others to overhear. He repeated his phrases over and over again,
varying them and surrounding them with his monotonous voice. I continued
to gaze towards the foot of the slope, listening to him.
After a long while his monologue paused. He stood up slowly, saying
that he had to leave us for a minute or so, a few minutes, and, without
changing the direction of my gaze, I saw him walking slowly away from us
towards the near end of the field. We remained silent when he had gone.
After a silence of a few minutes I heard Mahony exclaim:
"I say! Look what he's doing!"
As I neither answered nor raised my eyes Mahony exclaimed again:
"I say... He's a queer old josser!"
"In case he asks us for our names," I said, "let you be Murphy and I'll
We said nothing further to each other. I was still considering whether
I would go away or not when the man came back and sat down beside us
again. Hardly had he sat down when Mahony, catching sight of the cat
which had escaped him, sprang up and pursued her across the field. The
man and I watched the chase. The cat escaped once more and Mahony began
to throw stones at the wall she had escaladed. Desisting from this, he
began to wander about the far end of the field, aimlessly.
After an interval the man spoke to me. He said that my friend was a very
rough boy and asked did he get whipped often at school. I was going to
reply indignantly that we were not National School boys to be whipped,
as he called it; but I remained silent. He began to speak on the subject
of chastising boys. His mind, as if magnetised again by his speech,
seemed to circle slowly round and round its new centre. He said that
when boys were that kind they ought to be whipped and well whipped. When
a boy was rough and unruly there was nothing would do him any good but a
good sound whipping. A slap on the hand or a box on the ear was no good:
what he wanted was to get a nice warm whipping. I was surprised at this
sentiment and involuntarily glanced up at his face. As I did so I met
the gaze of a pair of bottle-green eyes peering at me from under a
twitching forehead. I turned my eyes away again.
The man continued his monologue. He seemed to have forgotten his recent
liberalism. He said that if ever he found a boy talking to girls or
having a girl for a sweetheart he would whip him and whip him; and that
would teach him not to be talking to girls. And if a boy had a girl
for a sweetheart and told lies about it then he would give him such
a whipping as no boy ever got in this world. He said that there was
nothing in this world he would like so well as that. He described to
me how he would whip such a boy as if he were unfolding some elaborate
mystery. He would love that, he said, better than anything in this
world; and his voice, as he led me monotonously through the mystery,
grew almost affectionate and seemed to plead with me that I should
I waited till his monologue paused again. Then I stood up abruptly. Lest
I should betray my agitation I delayed a few moments pretending to fix
my shoe properly and then, saying that I was obliged to go, I bade him
good-day. I went up the slope calmly but my heart was beating quickly
with fear that he would seize me by the ankles. When I reached the top
of the slope I turned round and, without looking at him, called loudly
across the field:
My voice had an accent of forced bravery in it and I was ashamed of my
paltry stratagem. I had to call the name again before Mahony saw me
and hallooed in answer. How my heart beat as he came running across the
field to me! He ran as if to bring me aid. And I was penitent; for in my
heart I had always despised him a little.
NORTH RICHMOND STREET, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour
when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free. An uninhabited
house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its
neighbours in a square ground The other houses of the street,
conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown
The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back
drawing-room. Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all
the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old
useless papers. Among these I found a few paper-covered books, the pages
of which were curled and damp: The Abbot, by Walter Scott, The Devout
Communicant and The Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last best because
its leaves were yellow. The wild garden behind the house contained a
central apple-tree and a few straggling bushes under one of which
I found the late tenant's rusty bicycle-pump. He had been a very
charitable priest; in his will he had left all his money to institutions
and the furniture of his house to his sister.
When the short days of winter came dusk fell before we had well eaten
our dinners. When we met in the street the houses had grown sombre. The
space of sky above us was the colour of ever-changing violet and towards
it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns. The cold air
stung us and we played till our bodies glowed. Our shouts echoed in the
silent street. The career of our play brought us through the dark muddy
lanes behind the houses where we ran the gauntlet of the rough tribes
from the cottages, to the back doors of the dark dripping gardens where
odours arose from the ashpits, to the dark odorous stables where a
coachman smoothed and combed the horse or shook music from the buckled
harness. When we returned to the street light from the kitchen windows
had filled the areas. If my uncle was seen turning the corner we hid in
the shadow until we had seen him safely housed. Or if Mangan's sister
came out on the doorstep to call her brother in to his tea we watched
her from our shadow peer up and down the street. We waited to see
whether she would remain or go in and, if she remained, we left our
shadow and walked up to Mangan's steps resignedly. She was waiting
for us, her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door. Her
brother always teased her before he obeyed and I stood by the railings
looking at her. Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope
of her hair tossed from side to side.
Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door.
The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could
not be seen. When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. I ran
to the hall, seized my books and followed her. I kept her brown figure
always in my eye and, when we came near the point at which our ways
diverged, I quickened my pace and passed her. This happened morning
after morning. I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words,
and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.
Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance. On
Saturday evenings when my aunt went marketing I had to go to carry
some of the parcels. We walked through the flaring streets, jostled
by drunken men and bargaining women, amid the curses of labourers, the
shrill litanies of shop-boys who stood on guard by the barrels of pigs'
cheeks, the nasal chanting of street-singers, who sang a come-all-you
about O'Donovan Rossa, or a ballad about the troubles in our native
land. These noises converged in a single sensation of life for me: I
imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes. Her
name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I
myself did not understand. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not
tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out
into my bosom. I thought little of the future. I did not know whether I
would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell
her of my confused adoration. But my body was like a harp and her words
and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.
One evening I went into the back drawing-room in which the priest had
died. It was a dark rainy evening and there was no sound in the house.
Through one of the broken panes I heard the rain impinge upon the earth,
the fine incessant needles of water playing in the sodden beds. Some
distant lamp or lighted window gleamed below me. I was thankful that I
could see so little. All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves
and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of
my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: "O love! O love!" many
At last she spoke to me. When she addressed the first words to me I was
so confused that I did not know what to answer. She asked me was I going
to Araby. I forgot whether I answered yes or no. It would be a splendid
bazaar, she said;s she would love to go.
"And why can't you?" I asked.
While she spoke she turned a silver bracelet round and round her wrist.
She could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat that week
in her convent. Her brother and two other boys were fighting for their
caps and I was alone at the railings. She held one of the spikes, bowing
her head towards me. The light from the lamp opposite our door caught
the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and,
falling, lit up the hand upon the railing. It fell over one side of her
dress and caught the white border of a petticoat, just visible as she
stood at ease.
"It's well for you," she said.
"If I go," I said, "I will bring you something."
What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts
after that evening! I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days.
I chafed against the work of school. At night in my bedroom and by day
in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to
read. The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the
silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over
me. I asked for leave to go to the bazaar on Saturday night. My aunt
was surprised and hoped it was not some Freemason affair. I answered few
questions in class. I watched my master's face pass from amiability to
sternness; he hoped I was not beginning to idle. I could not call my
wandering thoughts together. I had hardly any patience with the serious
work of life which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed
to me child's play, ugly monotonous child's play.
On Saturday morning I reminded my uncle that I wished to go to the
bazaar in the evening. He was fussing at the hallstand, looking for the
hat-brush, and answered me curtly:
"Yes, boy, I know."
As he was in the hall I could not go into the front parlour and lie at
the window. I left the house in bad humour and walked slowly towards the
school. The air was pitilessly raw and already my heart misgave me.
When I came home to dinner my uncle had not yet been home. Still it was
early. I sat staring at the clock for some time and, when its ticking
began to irritate me, I left the room. I mounted the staircase and
gained the upper part of the house. The high cold empty gloomy rooms
liberated me and I went from room to room singing. From the front window
I saw my companions playing below in the street. Their cries reached me
weakened and indistinct and, leaning my forehead against the cool glass,
I looked over at the dark house where she lived. I may have stood
there for an hour, seeing nothing but the brown-clad figure cast by my
imagination, touched discreetly by the lamplight at the curved neck, at
the hand upon the railings and at the border below the dress.
When I came downstairs again I found Mrs. Mercer sitting at the fire.
She was an old garrulous woman, a pawnbroker's widow, who collected
used stamps for some pious purpose. I had to endure the gossip of the
tea-table. The meal was prolonged beyond an hour and still my uncle did
not come. Mrs. Mercer stood up to go: she was sorry she couldn't wait
any longer, but it was after eight o'clock and she did not like to be
out late as the night air was bad for her. When she had gone I began to
walk up and down the room, clenching my fists. My aunt said:
"I'm afraid you may put off your bazaar for this night of Our Lord."
At nine o'clock I heard my uncle's latchkey in the halldoor. I heard him
talking to himself and heard the hallstand rocking when it had received
the weight of his overcoat. I could interpret these signs. When he was
midway through his dinner I asked him to give me the money to go to the
bazaar. He had forgotten.
"The people are in bed and after their first sleep now," he said.
I did not smile. My aunt said to him energetically:
"Can't you give him the money and let him go? You've kept him late
enough as it is."
My uncle said he was very sorry he had forgotten. He said he believed in
the old saying: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." He asked
me where I was going and, when I had told him a second time he asked me
did I know The Arab's Farewell to his Steed. When I left the kitchen he
was about to recite the opening lines of the piece to my aunt.
I held a florin tightly in my hand as I strode down Buckingham Street
towards the station. The sight of the streets thronged with buyers and
glaring with gas recalled to me the purpose of my journey. I took my
seat in a third-class carriage of a deserted train. After an intolerable
delay the train moved out of the station slowly. It crept onward among
ruinous houses and over the twinkling river. At Westland Row Station a
crowd of people pressed to the carriage doors; but the porters moved
them back, saying that it was a special train for the bazaar. I remained
alone in the bare carriage. In a few minutes the train drew up beside an
improvised wooden platform. I passed out on to the road and saw by the
lighted dial of a clock that it was ten minutes to ten. In front of me
was a large building which displayed the magical name.
I could not find any sixpenny entrance and, fearing that the bazaar
would be closed, I passed in quickly through a turnstile, handing a
shilling to a weary-looking man. I found myself in a big hall girdled at
half its height by a gallery. Nearly all the stalls were closed and the
greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognised a silence like
that which pervades a church after a service. I walked into the centre
of the bazaar timidly. A few people were gathered about the stalls which
were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Cafe Chantant
were written in coloured lamps, two men were counting money on a salver.
I listened to the fall of the coins.
Remembering with difficulty why I had come I went over to one of the
stalls and examined porcelain vases and flowered tea-sets. At the
door of the stall a young lady was talking and laughing with two young
gentlemen. I remarked their English accents and listened vaguely to
"O, I never said such a thing!"
"O, but you did!"
"O, but I didn't!"
"Didn't she say that?"
"Yes. I heard her."
"O, there's a... fib!"
Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy
anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have
spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars
that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to
the stall and murmured:
"No, thank you."
The young lady changed the position of one of the vases and went back to
the two young men. They began to talk of the same subject. Once or twice
the young lady glanced at me over her shoulder.
I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make
my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly
and walked down the middle of the bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to
fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one
end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall
was now completely dark.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and
derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
SHE sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head
was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour
of dusty cretonne. She was tired.
Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way
home; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and
afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses. One
time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every
evening with other people's children. Then a man from Belfast bought
the field and built houses in it--not like their little brown houses but
bright brick houses with shining roofs. The children of the avenue used
to play together in that field--the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns,
little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and sisters. Ernest,
however, never played: he was too grown up. Her father used often to
hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick; but usually
little Keogh used to keep nix and call out when he saw her father
coming. Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was
not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time
ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother
was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to
England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the
others, to leave her home.
Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects
which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on
earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would never see again those
familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.
And yet during all those years she had never found out the name of the
priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken
harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed
Margaret Mary Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father.
Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass
it with a casual word:
"He is in Melbourne now."
She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She
tried to weigh each side of the question. In her home anyway she had
shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about
her. Of course she had to work hard, both in the house and at business.
What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she
had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place
would be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She
had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people
"Miss Hill, don't you see these ladies are waiting?"
"Look lively, Miss Hill, please."
She would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.
But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like
that. Then she would be married--she, Eveline. People would treat her
with respect then. She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even
now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger
of her father's violence. She knew it was that that had given her the
palpitations. When they were growing up he had never gone for her like
he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl; but latterly
he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for
her dead mother's sake. And now she had nobody to protect her. Ernest was
dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was nearly
always down somewhere in the country. Besides, the invariable squabble
for money on Saturday nights had begun to weary her unspeakably. She
always gave her entire wages--seven shillings--and Harry always sent up
what he could but the trouble was to get any money from her father.
He said she used to squander the money, that she had no head, that
he wasn't going to give her his hard-earned money to throw about the
streets, and much more, for he was usually fairly bad of a Saturday night.
In the end he would give her the money and ask her had she any intention
of buying Sunday's dinner. Then she had to rush out as quickly as she
could and do her marketing, holding her black leather purse tightly in
her hand as she elbowed her way through the crowds and returning home
late under her load of provisions. She had hard work to keep the house
together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her
charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was
hard work--a hard life--but now that she was about to leave it she did
not find it a wholly undesirable life.
She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind,
manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the night-boat to
be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Ayres where he had a home
waiting for her. How well she remembered the first time she had seen
him; he was lodging in a house on the main road where she used to visit.
It seemed a few weeks ago. He was standing at the gate, his peaked cap
pushed back on his head and his hair tumbled forward over a face of
bronze. Then they had come to know each other. He used to meet her
outside the Stores every evening and see her home. He took her to see
The Bohemian Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part
of the theatre with him. He was awfully fond of music and sang a little.
People knew that they were courting and, when he sang about the lass
that loves a sailor, she always felt pleasantly confused. He used to
call her Poppens out of fun. First of all it had been an excitement for
her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like him. He had tales of
distant countries. He had started as a deck boy at a pound a month on a
ship of the Allan Line going out to Canada. He told her the names of
the ships he had been on and the names of the different services. He had
sailed through the Straits of Magellan and he told her stories of the
terrible Patagonians. He had fallen on his feet in Buenos Ayres, he
said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday. Of
course, her father had found out the affair and had forbidden her to
have anything to say to him.
"I know these sailor chaps," he said.
One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that she had to meet her
The evening deepened in the avenue. The white of two letters in her lap
grew indistinct. One was to Harry; the other was to her father. Ernest
had been her favourite but she liked Harry too. Her father was becoming
old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. Sometimes he could be very
nice. Not long before, when she had been laid up for a day, he had read
her out a ghost story and made toast for her at the fire. Another day,
when their mother was alive, they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill
of Howth. She remembered her father putting on her mother's bonnet to
make the children laugh.
Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window,
leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odour of dusty
cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing.
She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind
her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together
as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother's
illness; she was again in the close dark room at the other side of the
hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player
had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her
father strutting back into the sickroom saying:
"Damned Italians! coming over here!"
As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid its spell on
the very quick of her being--that life of commonplace sacrifices closing
in final craziness. She trembled as she heard again her mother's voice
saying constantly with foolish insistence:
"Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!"
She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape!
Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she
wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness.
Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save
She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He
held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something
about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers
with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a
glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall,
with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale
and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct
her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful
whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea
with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been
booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her
distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in
silent fervent prayer.
A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:
All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her
into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron
No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy.
Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish!
He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted
at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him,
passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or
farewell or recognition.
AFTER THE RACE
THE cars came scudding in towards Dublin, running evenly like pellets
in the groove of the Naas Road. At the crest of the hill at Inchicore
sightseers had gathered in clumps to watch the cars careering homeward
and through this channel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its
wealth and industry. Now and again the clumps of people raised the cheer
of the gratefully oppressed. Their sympathy, however, was for the blue
cars--the cars of their friends, the French.
The French, moreover, were virtual victors. Their team had finished
solidly; they had been placed second and third and the driver of the
winning German car was reported a Belgian. Each blue car, therefore,
received a double measure of welcome as it topped the crest of the hill
and each cheer of welcome was acknowledged with smiles and nods by those
in the car. In one of these trimly built cars was a party of four
young men whose spirits seemed to be at present well above the level
of successful Gallicism: in fact, these four young men were almost
hilarious. They were Charles Segouin, the owner of the car; Andre
Riviere, a young electrician of Canadian birth; a huge Hungarian named
Villona and a neatly groomed young man named Doyle. Segouin was in good
humour because he had unexpectedly received some orders in advance (he
was about to start a motor establishment in Paris) and Riviere was in
good humour because he was to be appointed manager of the establishment;
these two young men (who were cousins) were also in good humour because
of the success of the French cars. Villona was in good humour because he
had had a very satisfactory luncheon; and besides he was an optimist by
nature. The fourth member of the party, however, was too excited to be
He was about twenty-six years of age, with a soft, light brown moustache
and rather innocent-looking grey eyes. His father, who had begun life as
an advanced Nationalist, had modified his views early. He had made his
money as a butcher in Kingstown and by opening shops in Dublin and in
the suburbs he had made his money many times over. He had also been
fortunate enough to secure some of the police contracts and in the end
he had become rich enough to be alluded to in the Dublin newspapers as a
merchant prince. He had sent his son to England to be educated in a big
Catholic college and had afterwards sent him to Dublin University to
study law. Jimmy did not study very earnestly and took to bad courses
for a while. He had money and he was popular; and he divided his time
curiously between musical and motoring circles. Then he had been sent
for a term to Cambridge to see a little life. His father, remonstrative,
but covertly proud of the excess, had paid his bills and brought him
home. It was at Cambridge that he had met Segouin. They were not much
more than acquaintances as yet but Jimmy found great pleasure in the
society of one who had seen so much of the world and was reputed to
own some of the biggest hotels in France. Such a person (as his father
agreed) was well worth knowing, even if he had not been the charming
companion he was. Villona was entertaining also--a brilliant
pianist--but, unfortunately, very poor.
The car ran on merrily with its cargo of hilarious youth. The two
cousins sat on the front seat; Jimmy and his Hungarian friend sat
behind. Decidedly Villona was in excellent spirits; he kept up a deep
bass hum of melody for miles of the road. The Frenchmen flung their
laughter and light words over their shoulders and often Jimmy had
to strain forward to catch the quick phrase. This was not altogether
pleasant for him, as he had nearly always to make a deft guess at the
meaning and shout back a suitable answer in the face of a high wind.
Besides Villona's humming would confuse anybody; the noise of the car,
Rapid motion through space elates one; so does notoriety; so does
the possession of money. These were three good reasons for Jimmy's
excitement. He had been seen by many of his friends that day in the
company of these Continentals. At the control Segouin had presented him
to one of the French competitors and, in answer to his confused murmur
of compliment, the swarthy face of the driver had disclosed a line of
shining white teeth. It was pleasant after that honour to return to the
profane world of spectators amid nudges and significant looks. Then as
to money--he really had a great sum under his control. Segouin, perhaps,
would not think it a great sum but Jimmy who, in spite of temporary
errors, was at heart the inheritor of solid instincts knew well with
what difficulty it had been got together. This knowledge had previously
kept his bills within the limits of reasonable recklessness, and, if he
had been so conscious of the labour latent in money when there had been
question merely of some freak of the higher intelligence, how much more
so now when he was about to stake the greater part of his substance! It
was a serious thing for him.
Of course, the investment was a good one and Segouin had managed to give
the impression that it was by a favour of friendship the mite of Irish
money was to be included in the capital of the concern. Jimmy had a
respect for his father's shrewdness in business matters and in this case
it had been his father who had first suggested the investment; money to
be made in the motor business, pots of money. Moreover Segouin had the
unmistakable air of wealth. Jimmy set out to translate into days' work
that lordly car in which he sat. How smoothly it ran. In what style they
had come careering along the country roads! The journey laid a magical
finger on the genuine pulse of life and gallantly the machinery of human
nerves strove to answer the bounding courses of the swift blue animal.
They drove down Dame Street. The street was busy with unusual
traffic, loud with the horns of motorists and the gongs of impatient
tram-drivers. Near the Bank Segouin drew up and Jimmy and his friend
alighted. A little knot of people collected on the footpath to pay
homage to the snorting motor. The party was to dine together that
evening in Segouin's hotel and, meanwhile, Jimmy and his friend, who was
staying with him, were to go home to dress. The car steered out slowly
for Grafton Street while the two young men pushed their way through
the knot of gazers. They walked northward with a curious feeling of
disappointment in the exercise, while the city hung its pale globes of
light above them in a haze of summer evening.
In Jimmy's house this dinner had been pronounced an occasion. A certain
pride mingled with his parents' trepidation, a certain eagerness, also,
to play fast and loose for the names of great foreign cities have at
least this virtue. Jimmy, too, looked very well when he was dressed and,
as he stood in the hall giving a last equation to the bows of his dress
tie, his father may have felt even commercially satisfied at having
secured for his son qualities often unpurchaseable. His father,
therefore, was unusually friendly with Villona and his manner expressed
a real respect for foreign accomplishments; but this subtlety of his
host was probably lost upon the Hungarian, who was beginning to have a
sharp desire for his dinner.
The dinner was excellent, exquisite. Segouin, Jimmy decided, had a very
refined taste. The party was increased by a young Englishman named Routh
whom Jimmy had seen with Segouin at Cambridge. The young men supped in
a snug room lit by electric candle-lamps. They talked volubly and with
little reserve. Jimmy, whose imagination was kindling, conceived the
lively youth of the Frenchmen twined elegantly upon the firm framework
of the Englishman's manner. A graceful image of his, he thought, and a
just one. He admired the dexterity with which their host directed the
conversation. The five young men had various tastes and their tongues
had been loosened. Villona, with immense respect, began to discover to
the mildly surprised Englishman the beauties of the English madrigal,
deploring the loss of old instruments. Riviere, not wholly ingenuously,
undertook to explain to Jimmy the triumph of the French mechanicians.
The resonant voice of the Hungarian was about to prevail in ridicule of
the spurious lutes of the romantic painters when Segouin shepherded his
party into politics. Here was congenial ground for all. Jimmy, under
generous influences, felt the buried zeal of his father wake to life
within him: he aroused the torpid Routh at last. The room grew doubly
hot and Segouin's task grew harder each moment: there was even danger
of personal spite. The alert host at an opportunity lifted his glass
to Humanity and, when the toast had been drunk, he threw open a window
That night the city wore the mask of a capital. The five young men
strolled along Stephen's Green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke. They
talked loudly and gaily and their cloaks dangled from their shoulders.
The people made way for them. At the corner of Grafton Street a short
fat man was putting two handsome ladies on a car in charge of another
fat man. The car drove off and the short fat man caught sight of the
A torrent of talk followed. Farley was an American. No one knew very
well what the talk was about. Villona and Riviere were the noisiest,
but all the men were excited. They got up on a car, squeezing themselves
together amid much laughter. They drove by the crowd, blended now into
soft colours, to a music of merry bells. They took the train at Westland
Row and in a few seconds, as it seemed to Jimmy, they were walking out
of Kingstown Station. The ticket-collector saluted Jimmy; he was an old
"Fine night, sir!"
It was a serene summer night; the harbour lay like a darkened mirror at
their feet. They proceeded towards it with linked arms, singing Cadet
Roussel in chorus, stamping their feet at every:
"Ho! Ho! Hohe, vraiment!"
They got into a rowboat at the slip and made out for the American's
yacht. There was to be supper, music, cards. Villona said with
"It is delightful!"
There was a yacht piano in the cabin. Villona played a waltz for Farley
and Riviere, Farley acting as cavalier and Riviere as lady. Then
an impromptu square dance, the men devising original figures. What
merriment! Jimmy took his part with a will; this was seeing life, at
least. Then Farley got out of breath and cried "Stop!" A man brought in
a light supper, and the young men sat down to it for form's sake. They
drank, however: it was Bohemian. They drank Ireland, England, France,
Hungary, the United States of America. Jimmy made a speech, a long
speech, Villona saying: "Hear! hear!" whenever there was a pause. There
was a great clapping of hands when he sat down. It must have been a good
speech. Farley clapped him on the back and laughed loudly. What jovial
fellows! What good company they were!
Cards! cards! The table was cleared. Villona returned quietly to his
piano and played voluntaries for them. The other men played game after
game, flinging themselves boldly into the adventure. They drank the
health of the Queen of Hearts and of the Queen of Diamonds. Jimmy felt
obscurely the lack of an audience: the wit was flashing. Play ran very
high and paper began to pass. Jimmy did not know exactly who was
winning but he knew that he was losing. But it was his own fault for
he frequently mistook his cards and the other men had to calculate his
I.O.U.'s for him. They were devils of fellows but he wished they would
stop: it was getting late. Someone gave the toast of the yacht The Belle
of Newport and then someone proposed one great game for a finish.
The piano had stopped; Villona must have gone up on deck. It was a
terrible game. They stopped just before the end of it to drink for
luck. Jimmy understood that the game lay between Routh and Segouin. What
excitement! Jimmy was excited too; he would lose, of course. How much
had he written away? The men rose to their feet to play the last tricks.
talking and gesticulating. Routh won. The cabin shook with the young
men's cheering and the cards were bundled together. They began then to
gather in what they had won. Farley and Jimmy were the heaviest losers.
He knew that he would regret in the morning but at present he was glad
of the rest, glad of the dark stupor that would cover up his folly. He
leaned his elbows on the table and rested his head between his hands,
counting the beats of his temples. The cabin door opened and he saw the
Hungarian standing in a shaft of grey light:
THE grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild
warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets,
shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd.
Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall
poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue
unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging
Two young men came down the hill of Rutland Square. One of them was just
bringing a long monologue to a close. The other, who walked on the verge
of the path and was at times obliged to step on to the road, owing to
his companion's rudeness, wore an amused listening face. He was squat
and ruddy. A yachting cap was shoved far back from his forehead and the
narrative to which he listened made constant waves of expression break
forth over his face from the corners of his nose and eyes and mouth.
Little jets of wheezing laughter followed one another out of his
convulsed body. His eyes, twinkling with cunning enjoyment, glanced at
every moment towards his companion's face. Once or twice he rearranged
the light waterproof which he had slung over one shoulder in toreador
fashion. His breeches, his white rubber shoes and his jauntily slung
waterproof expressed youth. But his figure fell into rotundity at the
waist, his hair was scant and grey and his face, when the waves of
expression had passed over it, had a ravaged look.
When he was quite sure that the narrative had ended he laughed
noiselessly for fully half a minute. Then he said:
"Well!... That takes the biscuit!"
His voice seemed winnowed of vigour; and to enforce his words he added
"That takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call it, recherche
He became serious and silent when he had said this. His tongue was tired
for he had been talking all the afternoon in a public-house in Dorset
Street. Most people considered Lenehan a leech but, in spite of this
reputation, his adroitness and eloquence had always prevented his
friends from forming any general policy against him. He had a brave
manner of coming up to a party of them in a bar and of holding himself
nimbly at the borders of the company until he was included in a round.
He was a sporting vagrant armed with a vast stock of stories, limericks
and riddles. He was insensitive to all kinds of discourtesy. No one
knew how he achieved the stern task of living, but his name was vaguely
associated with racing tissues.
"And where did you pick her up, Corley?" he asked.
Corley ran his tongue swiftly along his upper lip.
"One night, man," he said, "I was going along Dame Street and I spotted
a fine tart under Waterhouse's clock and said good-night, you know. So
we went for a walk round by the canal and she told me she was a slavey
in a house in Baggot Street. I put my arm round her and squeezed her a
bit that night. Then next Sunday, man, I met her by appointment. We went
out to Donnybrook and I brought her into a field there. She told me she
used to go with a dairyman.... It was fine, man. Cigarettes every night
she'd bring me and paying the tram out and back. And one night she
brought me two bloody fine cigars--O, the real cheese, you know, that
the old fellow used to smoke.... I was afraid, man, she'd get in the
family way. But she's up to the dodge."
"Maybe she thinks you'll marry her," said Lenehan.
"I told her I was out of a job," said Corley. "I told her I was in
Pim's. She doesn't know my name. I was too hairy to tell her that. But
she thinks I'm a bit of class, you know."
Lenehan laughed again, noiselessly.
"Of all the good ones ever I heard," he said, "that emphatically takes
Corley's stride acknowledged the compliment. The swing of his burly body
made his friend execute a few light skips from the path to the roadway
and back again. Corley was the son of an inspector of police and he had
inherited his father's frame and gait. He walked with his hands by his
sides, holding himself erect and swaying his head from side to side. His
head was large, globular and oily; it sweated in all weathers; and his
large round hat, set upon it sideways, looked like a bulb which had
grown out of another. He always stared straight before him as if he were
on parade and, when he wished to gaze after someone in the street, it
was necessary for him to move his body from the hips. At present he was
about town. Whenever any job was vacant a friend was always ready to
give him the hard word. He was often to be seen walking with policemen
in plain clothes, talking earnestly. He knew the inner side of all
affairs and was fond of delivering final judgments. He spoke without
listening to the speech of his companions. His conversation was mainly
about himself: what he had said to such a person and what such a person
had said to him and what he had said to settle the matter. When he
reported these dialogues he aspirated the first letter of his name after
the manner of Florentines.
Lenehan offered his friend a cigarette. As the two young men walked on
through the crowd Corley occasionally turned to smile at some of the
passing girls but Lenehan's gaze was fixed on the large faint moon
circled with a double halo. He watched earnestly the passing of the grey
web of twilight across its face. At length he said:
"Well... tell me, Corley, I suppose you'll be able to pull it off all
Corley closed one eye expressively as an answer.
"Is she game for that?" asked Lenehan dubiously. "You can never know
"She's all right," said Corley. "I know the way to get around her, man.
She's a bit gone on me."
"You're what I call a gay Lothario," said Lenehan. "And the proper kind
of a Lothario, too!"
A shade of mockery relieved the servility of his manner. To save himself
he had the habit of leaving his flattery open to the interpretation of
raillery. But Corley had not a subtle mind.
"There's nothing to touch a good slavey," he affirmed. "Take my tip for
"By one who has tried them all," said Lenehan.
"First I used to go with girls, you know," said Corley, unbosoming;
"girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the
tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play at the
theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that way. I used
to spend money on them right enough," he added, in a convincing tone, as
if he was conscious of being disbelieved.
But Lenehan could well believe it; he nodded gravely.
"I know that game," he said, "and it's a mug's game."
"And damn the thing I ever got out of it," said Corley.
"Ditto here," said Lenehan.
"Only off of one of them," said Corley.
He moistened his upper lip by running his tongue along it. The
recollection brightened his eyes. He too gazed at the pale disc of the
moon, now nearly veiled, and seemed to meditate.
"She was... a bit of all right," he said regretfully.
He was silent again. Then he added:
"She's on the turf now. I saw her driving down Earl Street one night
with two fellows with her on a car."
"I suppose that's your doing," said Lenehan.
"There was others at her before me," said Corley philosophically.
This time Lenehan was inclined to disbelieve. He shook his head to and
fro and smiled.
"You know you can't kid me, Corley," he said.
"Honest to God!" said Corley. "Didn't she tell me herself?"
Lenehan made a tragic gesture.
"Base betrayer!" he said.
As they passed along the railings of Trinity College, Lenehan skipped
out into the road and peered up at the clock.
"Twenty after," he said.
"Time enough," said Corley. "She'll be there all right. I always let her
wait a bit."
Lenehan laughed quietly.
"Ecod! Corley, you know how to take them," he said.
"I'm up to all their little tricks," Corley confessed.
"But tell me," said Lenehan again, "are you sure you can bring it off
all right? You know it's a ticklish job. They're damn close on that
point. Eh?... What?"
His bright, small eyes searched his companion's face for reassurance.
Corley swung his head to and fro as if to toss aside an insistent
insect, and his brows gathered.
"I'll pull it off," he said. "Leave it to me, can't you?"
Lenehan said no more. He did not wish to ruffle his friend's temper, to
be sent to the devil and told that his advice was not wanted. A little
tact was necessary. But Corley's brow was soon smooth again. His
thoughts were running another way.
"She's a fine decent tart," he said, with appreciation; "that's what she
They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare Street. Not
far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing
to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly,
glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each new-comer and
from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp, too, heedless
that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the
eyes of strangers and of her master's hands. One hand played in the
bass the melody of Silent, O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the
treble after each group of notes. The notes of the air sounded deep and
The two young men walked up the street without speaking, the mournful
music following them. When they reached Stephen's Green they crossed the
road. Here the noise of trams, the lights and the crowd released them
from their silence.
"There she is!" said Corley.
At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She wore a blue
dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the curbstone, swinging a
sunshade in one hand. Lenehan grew lively.
"Let's have a look at her, Corley," he said.
Corley glanced sideways at his friend and an unpleasant grin appeared on
"Are you trying to get inside me?" he asked.
"Damn it!" said Lenehan boldly, "I don't want an introduction. All I
want is to have a look at her. I'm not going to eat her."
"O... A look at her?" said Corley, more amiably. "Well... I'll tell you
what. I'll go over and talk to her and you can pass by."
"Right!" said Lenehan.
Corley had already thrown one leg over the chains when Lenehan called
"And after? Where will we meet?"
"Half ten," answered Corley, bringing over his other leg.
"Corner of Merrion Street. We'll be coming back."
"Work it all right now," said Lenehan in farewell.
Corley did not answer. He sauntered across the road swaying his head
from side to side. His bulk, his easy pace, and the solid sound of his
boots had something of the conqueror in them. He approached the young
woman and, without saluting, began at once to converse with her. She
swung her umbrella more quickly and executed half turns on her heels.
Once or twice when he spoke to her at close quarters she laughed and
bent her head.
Lenehan observed them for a few minutes. Then he walked rapidly along
beside the chains at some distance and crossed the road obliquely. As he
approached Hume Street corner he found the air heavily scented and his
eyes made a swift anxious scrutiny of the young woman's appearance. She
had her Sunday finery on. Her blue serge skirt was held at the waist by
a belt of black leather. The great silver buckle of her belt seemed to
depress the centre of her body, catching the light stuff of her white
blouse like a clip. She wore a short black jacket with mother-of-pearl
buttons and a ragged black boa. The ends of her tulle collarette had
been carefully disordered and a big bunch of red flowers was pinned
in her bosomm stems upwards. Lenehan's eyes noted approvingly her stout
short muscular body. Frank rude health glowed in her face, on her fat red
cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features were blunt. She had
broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay open in a contented leer,
and two projecting front teeth. As he passed Lenehan took off his cap
and, after about ten seconds, Corley returned a salute to the air. This
he did by raising his hand vaguely and pensively changing the angle of
position of his hat.
Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted and
waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming towards him
and, when they turned to the right, he followed them, stepping lightly
in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion Square. As he walked on
slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he watched Corley's head which turned
at every moment towards the young woman's face like a big ball revolving
on a pivot. He kept the pair in view until he had seen them climbing the
stairs of the Donnybrook tram; then he turned about and went back the
way he had come.
Now that he was alone his face looked older. His gaiety seemed to
forsake him and, as he came by the railings of the Duke's Lawn, he
allowed his hand to run along them. The air which the harpist had played
began to control his movements. His softly padded feet played the melody
while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly along the railings
after each group of notes.
He walked listlessly round Stephen's Green and then down Grafton Street.
Though his eyes took note of many elements of the crowd through which
he passed they did so morosely. He found trivial all that was meant to
charm him and did not answer the glances which invited him to be bold.
He knew that he would have to speak a great deal, to invent and to amuse,
and his brain and throat were too dry for such a task. The problem of
how he could pass the hours till he met Corley again troubled him a
little. He could think of no way of passing them but to keep on walking.
He turned to the left when he came to the corner of Rutland Square and
felt more at ease in the dark quiet street, the sombre look of which
suited his mood. He paused at last before the window of a poor-looking
shop over which the words Refreshment Bar were printed in white letters.
On the glass of the window were two flying inscriptions: Ginger Beer and
Ginger Ale. A cut ham was exposed on a great blue dish while near it
on a plate lay a segment of very light plum-pudding. He eyed this food
earnestly for some time and then, after glancing warily up and down the
street, went into the shop quickly.
He was hungry for, except some biscuits which he had asked two grudging
curates to bring him, he had eaten nothing since breakfast-time. He
sat down at an uncovered wooden table opposite two work-girls and a
mechanic. A slatternly girl waited on him.
"How much is a plate of peas?" he asked.
"Three halfpence, sir," said the girl.
"Bring me a plate of peas," he said, "and a bottle of ginger beer."
He spoke roughly in order to belie his air of gentility for his entry
had been followed by a pause of talk. His face was heated. To appear
natural he pushed his cap back on his head and planted his elbows on the
table. The mechanic and the two work-girls examined him point by point
before resuming their conversation in a subdued voice. The girl brought
him a plate of grocer's hot peas, seasoned with pepper and vinegar, a
fork and his ginger beer. He ate his food greedily and found it so good
that he made a note of the shop mentally. When he had eaten all the peas
he sipped his ginger beer and sat for some time thinking of Corley's
adventure. In his imagination he beheld the pair of lovers walking along
some dark road; he heard Corley's voice in deep energetic gallantries
and saw again the leer of the young woman's mouth. This vision made
him feel keenly his own poverty of purse and spirit. He was tired
of knocking about, of pulling the devil by the tail, of shifts and
intrigues. He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never get a good
job? Would he never have a home of his own? He thought how pleasant it
would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to.
He had walked the streets long enough with friends and with girls. He
knew what those friends were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience
had embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left
him. He felt better after having eaten than he had felt before, less
weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to
settle down in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come
across some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready.
He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of the
shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street and walked
along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame Street. At the
corner of George's Street he met two friends of his and stopped to
converse with them. He was glad that he could rest from all his walking.
His friends asked him had he seen Corley and what was the latest. He
replied that he had spent the day with Corley. His friends talked
very little. They looked vacantly after some figures in the crowd and
sometimes made a critical remark. One said that he had seen Mac an hour
before in Westmoreland Street. At this Lenehan said that he had been
with Mac the night before in Egan's. The young man who had seen Mac
in Westmoreland Street asked was it true that Mac had won a bit over
a billiard match. Lenehan did not know: he said that Holohan had stood
them drinks in Egan's.
He left his friends at a quarter to ten and went up George's Street.
He turned to the left at the City Markets and walked on into Grafton
Street. The crowd of girls and young men had thinned and on his way
up the street he heard many groups and couples bidding one another
good-night. He went as far as the clock of the College of Surgeons: it
was on the stroke of ten. He set off briskly along the northern side
of the Green hurrying for fear Corley should return too soon. When he
reached the corner of Merrion Street he took his stand in the shadow of
a lamp and brought out one of the cigarettes which he had reserved and
lit it. He leaned against the lamp-post and kept his gaze fixed on the
part from which he expected to see Corley and the young woman return.
His mind became active again. He wondered had Corley managed it
successfully. He wondered if he had asked her yet or if he would leave
it to the last. He suffered all the pangs and thrills of his friend's
situation as well as those of his own. But the memory of Corley's slowly
revolving head calmed him somewhat: he was sure Corley would pull it off
all right. All at once the idea struck him that perhaps Corley had seen
her home by another way and given him the slip. His eyes searched the
street: there was no sign of them. Yet it was surely half-an-hour since
he had seen the clock of the College of Surgeons. Would Corley do
a thing like that? He lit his last cigarette and began to smoke it
nervously. He strained his eyes as each tram stopped at the far corner
of the square. They must have gone home by another way. The paper of his
cigarette broke and he flung it into the road with a curse.
Suddenly he saw them coming towards him. He started with delight and,
keeping close to his lamp-post, tried to read the result in their walk.
They were walking quickly, the young woman taking quick short steps,
while Corley kept beside her with his long stride. They did not seem to
be speaking. An intimation of the result pricked him like the point of a
sharp instrument. He knew Corley would fail; he knew it was no go.
They turned down Baggot Street and he followed them at once, taking the
other footpath. When they stopped he stopped too. They talked for a few
moments and then the young woman went down the steps into the area of
a house. Corley remained standing at the edge of the path, a little
distance from the front steps. Some minutes passed. Then the hall-door
was opened slowly and cautiously. A woman came running down the front
steps and coughed. Corley turned and went towards her. His broad figure
hid hers from view for a few seconds and then she reappeared running
up the steps. The door closed on her and Corley began to walk swiftly
towards Stephen's Green.
Lenehan hurried on in the same direction. Some drops of light rain fell.
He took them as a warning and, glancing back towards the house which the
young woman had entered to see that he was not observed, he ran eagerly
across the road. Anxiety and his swift run made him pant. He called out:
Corley turned his head to see who had called him, and then continued
walking as before. Lenehan ran after him, settling the waterproof on his
shoulders with one hand.
"Hallo, Corley!" he cried again.
He came level with his friend and looked keenly in his face. He could
see nothing there.
"Well?" he said. "Did it come off?"
They had reached the corner of Ely Place. Still without answering,
Corley swerved to the left and went up the side street. His features
were composed in stern calm. Lenehan kept up with his friend, breathing
uneasily. He was baffled and a note of menace pierced through his voice.
"Can't you tell us?" he said. "Did you try her?"
Corley halted at the first lamp and stared grimly before him. Then
with a grave gesture he extended a hand towards the light and, smiling,
opened it slowly to the gaze of his disciple. A small gold coin shone in
THE BOARDING HOUSE
MRS. MOONEY was a butcher's daughter. She was a woman who was quite
able to keep things to herself: a determined woman. She had married her
father's foreman and opened a butcher's shop near Spring Gardens. But as
soon as his father-in-law was dead Mr. Mooney began to go to the devil.
He drank, plundered the till, ran headlong into debt. It was no use
making him take the pledge: he was sure to break out again a few days
after. By fighting his wife in the presence of customers and by buying
bad meat he ruined his business. One night he went for his wife with the
cleaver and she had to sleep in a neighbour's house.
After that they lived apart. She went to the priest and got a separation
from him with care of the children. She would give him neither money
nor food nor house-room; and so he was obliged to enlist himself as a
sheriff's man. He was a shabby stooped little drunkard with a white face
and a white moustache and white eyebrows, pencilled above his little eyes,
which were pink-veined and raw; and all day long he sat in the bailiff's
room, waiting to be put on a job. Mrs. Mooney, who had taken what
remained of her money out of the butcher business and set up a boarding
house in Hardwicke Street, was a big imposing woman. Her house had a
floating population made up of tourists from Liverpool and the Isle
of Man and, occasionally, artistes from the music halls. Its resident
population was made up of clerks from the city. She governed her house
cunningly and firmly, knew when to give credit, when to be stern and
when to let things pass. All the resident young men spoke of her as The
Mrs. Mooney's young men paid fifteen shillings a week for board and
lodgings (beer or stout at dinner excluded). They shared in common
tastes and occupations and for this reason they were very chummy with
one another. They discussed with one another the chances of favourites
and outsiders. Jack Mooney, the Madam's son, who was clerk to a
commission agent in Fleet Street, had the reputation of being a hard
case. He was fond of using soldiers' obscenities: usually he came home
in the small hours. When he met his friends he had always a good one
to tell them and he was always sure to be on to a good thing--that is to
say, a likely horse or a likely artiste. He was also handy with the mits
and sang comic songs. On Sunday nights there would often be a reunion in
Mrs. Mooney's front drawing-room. The music-hall artistes would oblige;
and Sheridan played waltzes and polkas and vamped accompaniments. Polly
Mooney, the Madam's daughter, would also sing. She sang:
I'm a... naughty girl.
You needn't sham:
You know I am.
Polly was a slim girl of nineteen; she had light soft hair and a small
full mouth. Her eyes, which were grey with a shade of green through
them, had a habit of glancing upwards when she spoke with anyone, which
made her look like a little perverse madonna. Mrs. Mooney had first
sent her daughter to be a typist in a corn-factor's office but, as a
disreputable sheriff's man used to come every other day to the office,
asking to be allowed to say a word to his daughter, she had taken her
daughter home again and set her to do housework. As Polly was very
lively the intention was to give her the run of the young men. Besides,
young men like to feel that there is a young woman not very far away.
Polly, of course, flirted with the young men but Mrs. Mooney, who was a
shrewd judge, knew that the young men were only passing the time away:
none of them meant business. Things went on so for a long time and Mrs.
Mooney began to think of sending Polly back to typewriting when she
noticed that something was going on between Polly and one of the young
men. She watched the pair and kept her own counsel.
Polly knew that she was being watched, but still her mother's persistent
silence could not be misunderstood. There had been no open complicity
between mother and daughter, no open understanding but, though people
in the house began to talk of the affair, still Mrs. Mooney did not
intervene. Polly began to grow a little strange in her manner and the
young man was evidently perturbed. At last, when she judged it to be the
right moment, Mrs. Mooney intervened. She dealt with moral problems as a
cleaver deals with meat: and in this case she had made up her mind.
It was a bright Sunday morning of early summer, promising heat, but with
a fresh breeze blowing. All the windows of the boarding house were open
and the lace curtains ballooned gently towards the street beneath the
raised sashes. The belfry of George's Church sent out constant peals and
worshippers, singly or in groups, traversed the little circus before
the church, revealing their purpose by their self-contained demeanour
no less than by the little volumes in their gloved hands. Breakfast
was over in the boarding house and the table of the breakfast-room was
covered with plates on which lay yellow streaks of eggs with morsels
of bacon-fat and bacon-rind. Mrs. Mooney sat in the straw arm-chair
and watched the servant Mary remove the breakfast things. She made Mary
collect the crusts and pieces of broken bread to help to make Tuesday's
bread-pudding. When the table was cleared, the broken bread collected,
the sugar and butter safe under lock and key, she began to reconstruct
the interview which she had had the night before with Polly. Things were
as she had suspected: she had been frank in her questions and Polly had
been frank in her answers. Both had been somewhat awkward, of course.
She had been made awkward by her not wishing to receive the news in too
cavalier a fashion or to seem to have connived and Polly had been
made awkward not merely because allusions of that kind always made her
awkward but also because she did not wish it to be thought that in
her wise innocence she had divined the intention behind her mother's
Mrs. Mooney glanced instinctively at the little gilt clock on the
mantelpiece as soon as she had become aware through her revery that the
bells of George's Church had stopped ringing. It was seventeen minutes
past eleven: she would have lots of time to have the matter out with Mr.
Doran and then catch short twelve at Marlborough Street. She was sure
she would win. To begin with she had all the weight of social opinion
on her side: she was an outraged mother. She had allowed him to live
beneath her roof, assuming that he was a man of honour, and he had simply
abused her hospitality. He was thirty-four or thirty-five years of age,
so that youth could not be pleaded as his excuse; nor could ignorance
be his excuse since he was a man who had seen something of the world. He
had simply taken advantage of Polly's youth and inexperience: that was
evident. The question was: What reparation would he make?
There must be reparation made in such cases. It is all very well for
the man: he can go his ways as if nothing had happened, having had his
moment of pleasure, but the girl has to bear the brunt. Some mothers
would be content to patch up such an affair for a sum of money; she had
known cases of it. But she would not do so. For her only one reparation
could make up for the loss of her daughter's honour: marriage.
She counted all her cards again before sending Mary up to Mr. Doran's room
to say that she wished to speak with him. She felt sure she would win.
He was a serious young man, not rakish or loud-voiced like the others.
If it had been Mr. Sheridan or Mr. Meade or Bantam Lyons her task would
have been much harder. She did not think he would face publicity. All
the lodgers in the house knew something of the affair; details had been
invented by some. Besides, he had been employed for thirteen years in a
great Catholic wine-merchant's office and publicity would mean for him,
perhaps, the loss of his job. Whereas if he agreed all might be well.
She knew he had a good screw for one thing and she suspected he had a
bit of stuff put by.
Nearly the half-hour! She stood up and surveyed herself in the
pier-glass. The decisive expression of her great florid face satisfied
her and she thought of some mothers she knew who could not get their
daughters off their hands.
Mr. Doran was very anxious indeed this Sunday morning. He had made two
attempts to shave but his hand had been so unsteady that he had been
obliged to desist. Three days' reddish beard fringed his jaws and every
two or three minutes a mist gathered on his glasses so that he had
to take them off and polish them with his pocket-handkerchief. The
recollection of his confession of the night before was a cause of acute
pain to him; the priest had drawn out every ridiculous detail of the
affair and in the end had so magnified his sin that he was almost
thankful at being afforded a loophole of reparation. The harm was done.
What could he do now but marry her or run away? He could not brazen it
out. The affair would be sure to be talked of and his employer would
be certain to hear of it. Dublin is such a small city: everyone knows
everyone else's business. He felt his heart leap warmly in his throat as
he heard in his excited imagination old Mr. Leonard calling out in his
rasping voice: "Send Mr. Doran here, please."
All his long years of service gone for nothing! All his industry and
diligence thrown away! As a young man he had sown his wild oats, of
course; he had boasted of his free-thinking and denied the existence of
God to his companions in public-houses. But that was all passed and done
with... nearly. He still bought a copy of Reynolds's Newspaper every
week but he attended to his religious duties and for nine-tenths of the
year lived a regular life. He had money enough to settle down on; it was
not that. But the family would look down on her. First of all there
was her disreputable father and then her mother's boarding house was
beginning to get a certain fame. He had a notion that he was being had.
He could imagine his friends talking of the affair and laughing. She was
a little vulgar; some times she said "I seen" and "If I had've known."
But what would grammar matter if he really loved her? He could not make
up his mind whether to like her or despise her for what she had done. Of
course he had done it too. His instinct urged him to remain free, not to
marry. Once you are married you are done for, it said.
While he was sitting helplessly on the side of the bed in shirt and
trousers she tapped lightly at his door and entered. She told him all,
that she had made a clean breast of it to her mother and that her mother
would speak with him that morning. She cried and threw her arms round
his neck, saying:
"O Bob! Bob! What am I to do? What am I to do at all?"
She would put an end to herself, she said.
He comforted her feebly, telling her not to cry, that it would be all
right, never fear. He felt against his shirt the agitation of her bosom.
It was not altogether his fault that it had happened. He remembered
well, with the curious patient memory of the celibate, the first casual
caresses her dress, her breath, her fingers had given him. Then late one
night as he was undressing for bed she had tapped at his door, timidly. She
wanted to relight her candle at his for hers had been blown out by a
gust. It was her bath night. She wore a loose open combing-jacket of
printed flannel. Her white instep shone in the opening of her furry
slippers and the blood glowed warmly behind her perfumed skin. From her
hands and wrists too as she lit and steadied her candle a faint perfume
On nights when he came in very late it was she who warmed up his dinner.
He scarcely knew what he was eating, feeling her beside him alone, at
night, in the sleeping house. And her thoughtfulness! If the night was
anyway cold or wet or windy there was sure to be a little tumbler of
punch ready for him. Perhaps they could be happy together....
They used to go upstairs together on tiptoe, each with a candle, and on
the third landing exchange reluctant good-nights. They used to kiss. He
remembered well her eyes, the touch of her hand and his delirium....
But delirium passes. He echoed her phrase, applying it to himself: "What
am I to do?" The instinct of the celibate warned him to hold back. But
the sin was there; even his sense of honour told him that reparation
must be made for such a sin.
While he was sitting with her on the side of the bed Mary came to the
door and said that the missus wanted to see him in the parlour. He stood
up to put on his coat and waistcoat, more helpless than ever. When he
was dressed he went over to her to comfort her. It would be all right,
never fear. He left her crying on the bed and moaning softly: "O my
Going down the stairs his glasses became so dimmed with moisture that
he had to take them off and polish them. He longed to ascend through the
roof and fly away to another country where he would never hear again
of his trouble, and yet a force pushed him downstairs step by step.
The implacable faces of his employer and of the Madam stared upon his
discomfiture. On the last flight of stairs he passed Jack Mooney who
was coming up from the pantry nursing two bottles of Bass. They saluted
coldly; and the lover's eyes rested for a second or two on a thick
bulldog face and a pair of thick short arms. When he reached the foot of
the staircase he glanced up and saw Jack regarding him from the door of
Suddenly he remembered the night when one of the music-hall artistes,
a little blond Londoner, had made a rather free allusion to Polly.
The reunion had been almost broken up on account of Jack's violence.
Everyone tried to quiet him. The music-hall artiste, a little paler than
usual, kept smiling and saying that there was no harm meant: but Jack
kept shouting at him that if any fellow tried that sort of a game on
with his sister he'd bloody well put his teeth down his throat, so he
Polly sat for a little time on the side of the bed, crying. Then she
dried her eyes and went over to the looking-glass. She dipped the end of
the towel in the water-jug and refreshed her eyes with the cool water.
She looked at herself in profile and readjusted a hairpin above her ear.
Then she went back to the bed again and sat at the foot. She regarded
the pillows for a long time and the sight of them awakened in her mind
secret, amiable memories. She rested the nape of her neck against the
cool iron bed-rail and fell into a reverie. There was no longer any
perturbation visible on her face.
She waited on patiently, almost cheerfully, without alarm, her memories
gradually giving place to hopes and visions of the future. Her hopes and
visions were so intricate that she no longer saw the white pillows
on which her gaze was fixed or remembered that she was waiting for
At last she heard her mother calling. She started to her feet and ran to
"Come down, dear. Mr. Doran wants to speak to you."
Then she remembered what she had been waiting for.
A LITTLE CLOUD
EIGHT years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and
wished him godspeed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once
by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few
fellows had talents like his and fewer still could remain unspoiled
by such success. Gallaher's heart was in the right place and he had
deserved to win. It was something to have a friend like that.
Little Chandler's thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting
with Gallaher, of Gallaher's invitation and of the great city London
where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler because, though
he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave one the idea
of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame was
fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took the
greatest care of his fair silken hair and moustache and used perfume
discreetly on his handkerchief. The half-moons of his nails were perfect
and when he smiled you caught a glimpse of a row of childish white
As he sat at his desk in the King's Inns he thought what changes those
eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby and
necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure on the London Press. He
turned often from his tiresome writing to gaze out of the office window.
The glow of a late autumn sunset covered the grass plots and walks. It
cast a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit
old men who drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all the moving
figures--on the children who ran screaming along the gravel paths and
on everyone who passed through the gardens. He watched the scene and
thought of life; and (as always happened when he thought of life) he
became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how
useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of
wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had
bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in the
little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from the
bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always
held him back; and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times
he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.
When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk and of
his fellow-clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the feudal
arch of the King's Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked swiftly down
Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and the air had grown
sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood or
ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or
squatted like mice upon the thresholds. Little Chandler gave them no
thought. He picked his way deftly through all that minute vermin-like
life and under the shadow of the gaunt spectral mansions in which the
old nobility of Dublin had roystered. No memory of the past touched him,
for his mind was full of a present joy.
He had never been in Corless's but he knew the value of the name. He
knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and drink
liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke French and
German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs drawn up before the
door and richly dressed ladies, escorted by cavaliers, alight and
enter quickly. They wore noisy dresses and many wraps. Their faces were
powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth,
like alarmed Atalantas. He had always passed without turning his head
to look. It was his habit to walk swiftly in the street even by day and
whenever he found himself in the city late at night he hurried on his
way apprehensively and excitedly. Sometimes, however, he courted the
causes of his fear. He chose the darkest and narrowest streets and,
as he walked boldly forward, the silence that was spread about his
footsteps troubled him, the wandering, silent figures troubled him; and
at times a sound of low fugitive laughter made him tremble like a leaf.
He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the
London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before?
Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember
many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that
Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of
fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides.
In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money
transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody
denied him talent. There was always a certain... something in Ignatius
Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out
at elbows and at his wits' end for money he kept up a bold face. Little
Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride
to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher's sayings when he was in a tight
"Half time now, boys," he used to say light-heartedly. "Where's my
That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn't but
admire him for it.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he
felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his
soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no
doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could
do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the
river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses. They
seemed to him a band of tramps, huddled together along the riverbanks,
their old coats covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the panorama
of sunset and waiting for the first chill of night bid them arise, shake
themselves and begone. He wondered whether he could write a poem to
express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some
London paper for him. Could he write something original? He was not sure
what idea he wished to express but the thought that a poetic moment had
touched him took life within him like an infant hope. He stepped onward
Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own sober
inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his mind. He
was not so old--thirty-two. His temperament might be said to be just
at the point of maturity. There were so many different moods and
impressions that he wished to express in verse. He felt them within him.
He tried weigh to his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy
was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a
melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple
joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men
would listen. He would never be popular: he saw that. He could not sway
the crowd but he might appeal to a little circle of kindred minds.
The English critics, perhaps, would recognise him as one of the Celtic
school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems; besides that, he
would put in allusions. He began to invent sentences and phrases from
the notice which his book would get. "Mr. Chandler has the gift of easy
and graceful verse."... "wistful sadness pervades these poems."... "The
Celtic note." It was a pity his name was not more Irish-looking. Perhaps
it would be better to insert his mother's name before the surname:
Thomas Malone Chandler, or better still: T. Malone Chandler. He would
speak to Gallaher about it.
He pursued his revery so ardently that he passed his street and had
to turn back. As he came near Corless's his former agitation began to
overmaster him and he halted before the door in indecision. Finally he
opened the door and entered.
The light and noise of the bar held him at the doorways for a few
moments. He looked about him, but his sight was confused by the shining
of many red and green wine-glasses The bar seemed to him to be full
of people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. He
glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to make his errand
appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody
had turned to look at him: and there, sure enough, was Ignatius Gallaher
leaning with his back against the counter and his feet planted far
"Hallo, Tommy, old hero, here you are! What is it to be? What will you
have? I'm taking whisky: better stuff than we get across the water.
Soda? Lithia? No mineral? I'm the same. Spoils the flavour.... Here,
garcon, bring us two halves of malt whisky, like a good fellow.... Well,
and how have you been pulling along since I saw you last? Dear God,
how old we're getting! Do you see any signs of aging in me--eh, what? A
little grey and thin on the top--what?"
Ignatius Gallaher took off his hat and displayed a large closely cropped
head. His face was heavy, pale and cleanshaven. His eyes, which were of
bluish slate-colour, relieved his unhealthy pallor and shone out plainly
above the vivid orange tie he wore. Between these rival features the
lips appeared very long and shapeless and colourless. He bent his head
and felt with two sympathetic fingers the thin hair at the crown. Little
Chandler shook his head as a denial. Ignatius Galaher put on his hat
"It pulls you down," he said. "Press life. Always hurry and scurry,
looking for copy and sometimes not finding it: and then, always to have
something new in your stuff. Damn proofs and printers, I say, for a few
days. I'm deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the old country.
Does a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton better since I
landed again in dear dirty Dublin.... Here you are, Tommy. Water? Say
Little Chandler allowed his whisky to be very much diluted.
"You don't know what's good for you, my boy," said Ignatius Gallaher. "I
drink mine neat."
"I drink very little as a rule," said Little Chandler modestly. "An odd
half-one or so when I meet any of the old crowd: that's all."
"Ah well," said Ignatius Gallaher, cheerfully, "here's to us and to old
times and old acquaintance."
They clinked glasses and drank the toast.
"I met some of the old gang today," said Ignatius Gallaher. "O'Hara
seems to be in a bad way. What's he doing?"
"Nothing," said Little Chandler. "He's gone to the dogs."
"But Hogan has a good sit, hasn't he?"
"Yes; he's in the Land Commission."
"I met him one night in London and he seemed to be very flush.... Poor
O'Hara! Boose, I suppose?"
"Other things, too," said Little Chandler shortly.
Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
"Tommy," he said, "I see you haven't changed an atom. You're the very
same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday mornings when I
had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You'd want to knock about a bit
in the world. Have you never been anywhere even for a trip?"
"I've been to the Isle of Man," said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
"The Isle of Man!" he said. "Go to London or Paris: Paris, for choice.
That'd do you good."
"Have you seen Paris?"
"I should think I have! I've knocked about there a little."
"And is it really so beautiful as they say?" asked Little Chandler.
He sipped a little of his drink while Ignatius Gallaher finished his
"Beautiful?" said Ignatius Gallaher, pausing on the word and on the
flavour of his drink. "It's not so beautiful, you know. Of course, it is
beautiful.... But it's the life of Paris; that's the thing. Ah, there's
no city like Paris for gaiety, movement, excitement...."
Little Chandler finished his whisky and, after some trouble, succeeded
in catching the barman's eye. He ordered the same again.
"I've been to the Moulin Rouge," Ignatius Gallaher continued when the
barman had removed their glasses, "and I've been to all the Bohemian
cafes. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap like you, Tommy."
Little Chandler said nothing until the barman returned with two glasses:
then he touched his friend's glass lightly and reciprocated the former
toast. He was beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned. Gallaher's
accent and way of expressing himself did not please him. There was
something vulgar in his friend which he had not observed before. But
perhaps it was only the result of living in London amid the bustle and
competition of the Press. The old personal charm was still there under
this new gaudy manner. And, after all, Gallaher had lived, he had seen
the world. Little Chandler looked at his friend enviously.
"Everything in Paris is gay," said Ignatius Gallaher. "They believe in
enjoying life--and don't you think they're right? If you want to enjoy
yourself properly you must go to Paris. And, mind you, they've a great
feeling for the Irish there. When they heard I was from Ireland they
were ready to eat me, man."
Little Chandler took four or five sips from his glass.
"Tell me," he said, "is it true that Paris is so... immoral as they
Ignatius Gallaher made a catholic gesture with his right arm.
"Every place is immoral," he said. "Of course you do find spicy bits in
Paris. Go to one of the students' balls, for instance. That's lively, if
you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose. You know what
they are, I suppose?"
"I've heard of them," said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher drank off his whisky and shook his head.
"Ah," he said, "you may say what you like. There's no woman like the
Parisienne--for style, for go."
"Then it is an immoral city," said Little Chandler, with timid
insistence--"I mean, compared with London or Dublin?"
"London!" said Ignatius Gallaher. "It's six of one and half-a-dozen of
the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when
he was over there. He'd open your eye.... I say, Tommy, don't make punch
of that whisky: liquor up."
"O, come on, another one won't do you any harm. What is it? The same
again, I suppose?"
"Well... all right."
"Francois, the same again.... Will you smoke, Tommy?"
Ignatius Gallaher produced his cigar-case. The two friends lit their
cigars and puffed at them in silence until their drinks were served.
"I'll tell you my opinion," said Ignatius Gallaher, emerging after some
time from the clouds of smoke in which he had taken refuge, "it's a rum
world. Talk of immorality! I've heard of cases--what am I saying?--I've
known them: cases of... immorality...."
Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a calm
historian's tone, he proceeded to sketch for his friend some pictures
of the corruption which was rife abroad. He summarised the vices of many
capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin. Some things he
could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of others he had had
personal experience. He spared neither rank nor caste. He revealed many
of the secrets of religious houses on the Continent and described some
of the practices which were fashionable in high society and ended by
telling, with details, a story about an English duchess--a story which
he knew to be true. Little Chandler was astonished.
"Ah, well," said Ignatius Gallaher, "here we are in old jog-along Dublin
where nothing is known of such things."
"How dull you must find it," said Little Chandler, "after all the other
places you've seen!"
"Well," said Ignatius Gallaher, "it's a relaxation to come over here,
you know. And, after all, it's the old country, as they say, isn't it?
You can't help having a certain feeling for it. That's human nature....
But tell me something about yourself. Hogan told me you had... tasted
the joys of connubial bliss. Two years ago, wasn't it?"
Little Chandler blushed and smiled.
"Yes," he said. "I was married last May twelve months."
"I hope it's not too late in the day to offer my best wishes," said
Ignatius Gallaher. "I didn't know your address or I'd have done so at
He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took.
"Well, Tommy," he said, "I wish you and yours every joy in life, old
chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot you. And
that's the wish of a sincere friend, an old friend. You know that?"
"I know that," said Little Chandler.
"Any youngsters?" said Ignatius Gallaher.
Little Chandler blushed again.
"We have one child," he said.
"Son or daughter?"
"A little boy."
Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend sonorously on the back.
"Bravo," he said, "I wouldn't doubt you, Tommy."
Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his lower
lip with three childishly white front teeth.
"I hope you'll spend an evening with us," he said, "before you go
back. My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little music
"Thanks awfully, old chap," said Ignatius Gallaher, "I'm sorry we didn't
meet earlier. But I must leave tomorrow night."
"I'm awfully sorry, old man. You see I'm over here with another
fellow, clever young chap he is too, and we arranged to go to a little
card-party. Only for that..."
"O, in that case..."
"But who knows?" said Ignatius Gallaher considerately. "Next year I may
take a little skip over here now that I've broken the ice. It's only a
"Very well," said Little Chandler, "the next time you come we must have
an evening together. That's agreed now, isn't it?"
"Yes, that's agreed," said Ignatius Gallaher. "Next year if I come,
"And to clinch the bargain," said Little Chandler, "we'll just have one
Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked at it.
"Is it to be the last?" he said. "Because you know, I have an a.p."
"O, yes, positively," said Little Chandler.
"Very well, then," said Ignatius Gallaher, "let us have another one as a
deoc an doruis--that's good vernacular for a small whisky, I believe."
Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to his
face a few moments before was establishing itself. A trifle made
him blush at any time: and now he felt warm and excited. Three small
whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher's strong cigar had confused
his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent person. The adventure of
meeting Gallaher after eight years, of finding himself with Gallaher
in Corless's surrounded by lights and noise, of listening to Gallaher's
stories and of sharing for a brief space Gallaher's vagrant and
triumphant life, upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature. He felt
acutely the contrast between his own life and his friend's and it seemed
to him unjust. Gallaher was his inferior in birth and education. He was
sure that he could do something better than his friend had ever done, or
could ever do, something higher than mere tawdry journalism if he only
got the chance. What was it that stood in his way? His unfortunate
timidity! He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his
manhood. He saw behind Gallaher's refusal of his invitation. Gallaher
was only patronising him by his friendliness just as he was patronising
Ireland by his visit.
The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass
towards his friend and took up the other boldly.
"Who knows?" he said, as they lifted their glasses. "When you come next
year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and happiness to Mr.
and Mrs. Ignatius Gallaher."
Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively
over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips
decisively, set down his glass and said:
"No blooming fear of that, my boy. I'm going to have my fling first and
see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack--if I
"Some day you will," said Little Chandler calmly.
Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full upon
"You think so?" he said.
"You'll put your head in the sack," repeated Little Chandler stoutly,
"like everyone else if you can find the girl."
He had slightly emphasised his tone and he was aware that he had
betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his cheek, he
did not flinch from his friend's gaze. Ignatius Gallaher watched him for
a few moments and then said:
"If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there'll be no
mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She'll have a good
fat account at the bank or she won't do for me."
Little Chandler shook his head.
"Why, man alive," said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, "do you know what
it is? I've only to say the word and tomorrow I can have the woman
and the cash. You don't believe it? Well, I know it. There are
hundreds--what am I saying?--thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten
with money, that'd only be too glad.... You wait a while my boy. See if
I don't play my cards properly. When I go about a thing I mean business,
I tell you. You just wait."
He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed loudly.
Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a calmer tone:
"But I'm in no hurry. They can wait. I don't fancy tying myself up to
one woman, you know."
He imitated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face.
"Must get a bit stale, I should think," he said.
* * * * *
Little Chandler sat in the room off the hall, holding a child in his
arms. To save money they kept no servant but Annie's young sister Monica
came for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so in the evening
to help. But Monica had gone home long ago. It was a quarter to nine.
Little Chandler had come home late for tea and, moreover, he had
forgotten to bring Annie home the parcel of coffee from Bewley's. Of
course she was in a bad humour and gave him short answers. She said she
would do without any tea but when it came near the time at which the
shop at the corner closed she decided to go out herself for a quarter
of a pound of tea and two pounds of sugar. She put the sleeping child
deftly in his arms and said:
"Here. Don't waken him."
A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its
light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of crumpled
horn. It was Annie's photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing
at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he
had brought her home as a present one Saturday. It had cost him ten and
elevenpence; but what an agony of nervousness it had cost him! How
he had suffered that day, waiting at the shop door until the shop was
empty, standing at the counter and trying to appear at his ease while
the girl piled ladies' blouses before him, paying at the desk and
forgetting to take up the odd penny of his change, being called back by
the cashier, and finally, striving to hide his blushes as he left the
shop by examining the parcel to see if it was securely tied. When he
brought the blouse home Annie kissed him and said it was very pretty and
stylish; but when she heard the price she threw the blouse on the table
and said it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence for it.
At first she wanted to take it back but when she tried it on she was
delighted with it, especially with the make of the sleeves, and kissed
him and said he was very good to think of her.
He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered
coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But
he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike?
The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied
him: there was no passion in them, no rapture. He thought of what
Gallaher had said about rich Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he
thought, how full they are of passion, of voluptuous longing!... Why had
he married the eyes in the photograph?
He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round the
room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which he had
bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen it herself
and it reminded him of her. It too was prim and pretty. A dull resentment
against his life awoke within him. Could he not escape from his little
house? Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher?
Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be paid for. If
he could only write a book and get it published, that might open the way
A volume of Byron's poems lay before him on the table. He opened it
cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and began
to read the first poem in the book:
Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom,
Not e'en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb
And scatter flowers on the dust I love.
He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room.
How melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the
melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he wanted
to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan Bridge, for
example. If he could get back again into that mood....
The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and tried to
hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to and fro in
his arms but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it faster while his
eyes began to read the second stanza:
Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
That clay where once...
It was useless. He couldn't read. He couldn't do anything. The wailing
of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless, useless!
He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger and suddenly
bending to the child's face he shouted:
The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began to
scream. He jumped up from his chair and walked hastily up and down the
room with the child in his arms. It began to sob piteously, losing its
breath for four or five seconds, and then bursting out anew. The thin
walls of the room echoed the sound. He tried to soothe it but it sobbed
more convulsively. He looked at the contracted and quivering face of
the child and began to be alarmed. He counted seven sobs without a
break between them and caught the child to his breast in fright. If it
The door was burst open and a young woman ran in, panting.
"What is it? What is it?" she cried.
The child, hearing its mother's voice, broke out into a paroxysm of
"It's nothing, Annie... it's nothing.... He began to cry..."
She flung her parcels on the floor and snatched the child from him.
"What have you done to him?" she cried, glaring into his face.
Little Chandler sustained for one moment the gaze of her eyes and his
heart closed together as he met the hatred in them. He began to stammer:
"It's nothing.... He... he began to cry.... I couldn't... I didn't do
Giving no heed to him she began to walk up and down the room, clasping
the child tightly in her arms and murmuring:
"My little man! My little mannie! Was 'ou frightened, love?... There
now, love! There now!... Lambabaun! Mamma's little lamb of the world!...
Little Chandler felt his cheeks suffused with shame and he stood back
out of the lamplight. He listened while the paroxysm of the child's
sobbing grew less and less; and tears of remorse started to his eyes.
THE bell rang furiously and, when Miss Parker went to the tube, a
furious voice called out in a piercing North of Ireland accent:
"Send Farrington here!"
Miss Parker returned to her machine, saying to a man who was writing at
"Mr. Alleyne wants you upstairs."
The man muttered "Blast him!" under his breath and pushed back his chair
to stand up. When he stood up he was tall and of great bulk. He had a
hanging face, dark wine-coloured, with fair eyebrows and moustache:
his eyes bulged forward slightly and the whites of them were dirty.
He lifted up the counter and, passing by the clients, went out of the
office with a heavy step.
He went heavily upstairs until he came to the second landing, where
a door bore a brass plate with the inscription Mr. Alleyne. Here he
halted, puffing with labour and vexation, and knocked. The shrill voice
The man entered Mr. Alleyne's room. Simultaneously Mr. Alleyne, a little
man wearing gold-rimmed glasses on a cleanshaven face, shot his head up
over a pile of documents. The head itself was so pink and hairless it
seemed like a large egg reposing on the papers. Mr. Alleyne did not lose
"Farrington? What is the meaning of this? Why have I always to complain
of you? May I ask you why you haven't made a copy of that contract
between Bodley and Kirwan? I told you it must be ready by four o'clock."
"But Mr. Shelley said, sir----"
"Mr. Shelley said, sir.... Kindly attend to what I say and not to
what Mr. Shelley says, sir. You have always some excuse or another for
shirking work. Let me tell you that if the contract is not copied before
this evening I'll lay the matter before Mr. Crosbie.... Do you hear me
"Do you hear me now?... Ay and another little matter! I might as well be
talking to the wall as talking to you. Understand once for all that you
get a half an hour for your lunch and not an hour and a half. How many
courses do you want, I'd like to know.... Do you mind me now?"
Mr. Alleyne bent his head again upon his pile of papers. The man stared
fixedly at the polished skull which directed the affairs of Crosbie &
Alleyne, gauging its fragility. A spasm of rage gripped his throat for
a few moments and then passed, leaving after it a sharp sensation of
thirst. The man recognised the sensation and felt that he must have a
good night's drinking. The middle of the month was passed and, if he
could get the copy done in time, Mr. Alleyne might give him an order on
the cashier. He stood still, gazing fixedly at the head upon the pile
of papers. Suddenly Mr. Alleyne began to upset all the papers, searching
for something. Then, as if he had been unaware of the man's presence
till that moment, he shot up his head again, saying:
"Eh? Are you going to stand there all day? Upon my word, Farrington, you
take things easy!"
"I was waiting to see..."
"Very good, you needn't wait to see. Go downstairs and do your work."
The man walked heavily towards the door and, as he went out of the room,
he heard Mr. Alleyne cry after him that if the contract was not copied
by evening Mr. Crosbie would hear of the matter.
He returned to his desk in the lower office and counted the sheets which
remained to be copied. He took up his pen and dipped it in the ink but
he continued to stare stupidly at the last words he had written: In no
case shall the said Bernard Bodley be... The evening was falling and in
a few minutes they would be lighting the gas: then he could write. He
felt that he must slake the thirst in his throat. He stood up from his
desk and, lifting the counter as before, passed out of the office. As he
was passing out the chief clerk looked at him inquiringly.
"It's all right, Mr. Shelley," said the man, pointing with his finger to
indicate the objective of his journey.
The chief clerk glanced at the hat-rack, but, seeing the row complete,
offered no remark. As soon as he was on the landing the man pulled
a shepherd's plaid cap out of his pocket, put it on his head and ran
quickly down the rickety stairs. From the street door he walked on
furtively on the inner side of the path towards the corner and all at
once dived into a doorway. He was now safe in the dark snug of O'Neill's
shop, and filling up the little window that looked into the bar with his
inflamed face, the colour of dark wine or dark meat, he called out:
"Here, Pat, give us a g.p., like a good fellow."
The curate brought him a glass of plain porter. The man drank it at a
gulp and asked for a caraway seed. He put his penny on the counter and,
leaving the curate to grope for it in the gloom, retreated out of the
snug as furtively as he had entered it.
Darkness, accompanied by a thick fog, was gaining upon the dusk of
February and the lamps in Eustace Street had been lit. The man went up
by the houses until he reached the door of the office, wondering whether
he could finish his copy in time. On the stairs a moist pungent odour of
perfumes saluted his nose: evidently Miss Delacour had come while he
was out in O'Neill's. He crammed his cap back again into his pocket and
re-entered the office, assuming an air of absentmindedness.
"Mr. Alleyne has been calling for you," said the chief clerk severely.
"Where were you?"
The man glanced at the two clients who were standing at the counter as
if to intimate that their presence prevented him from answering. As the
clients were both male the chief clerk allowed himself a laugh.
"I know that game," he said. "Five times in one day is a little bit...
Well, you better look sharp and get a copy of our correspondence in the
Delacour case for Mr. Alleyne."
This address in the presence of the public, his run upstairs and the
porter he had gulped down so hastily confused the man and, as he sat
down at his desk to get what was required, he realised how hopeless was
the task of finishing his copy of the contract before half past five.
The dark damp night was coming and he longed to spend it in the bars,
drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas and the clatter of
glasses. He got out the Delacour correspondence and passed out of
the office. He hoped Mr. Alleyne would not discover that the last two
letters were missing.
The moist pungent perfume lay all the way up to Mr. Alleyne's room. Miss
Delacour was a middle-aged woman of Jewish appearance. Mr. Alleyne was
said to be sweet on her or on her money. She came to the office often
and stayed a long time when she came. She was sitting beside his desk
now in an aroma of perfumes, smoothing the handle of her umbrella and
nodding the great black feather in her hat. Mr. Alleyne had swivelled
his chair round to face her and thrown his right foot jauntily upon
his left knee. The man put the correspondence on the desk and bowed
respectfully but neither Mr. Alleyne nor Miss Delacour took any notice
of his bow. Mr. Alleyne tapped a finger on the correspondence and then
flicked it towards him as if to say: "That's all right: you can go."
The man returned to the lower office and sat down again at his desk.
He stared intently at the incomplete phrase: In no case shall the said
Bernard Bodley be... and thought how strange it was that the last three
words began with the same letter. The chief clerk began to hurry Miss
Parker, saying she would never have the letters typed in time for post.
The man listened to the clicking of the machine for a few minutes and
then set to work to finish his copy. But his head was not clear and his
mind wandered away to the glare and rattle of the public-house. It was a
night for hot punches. He struggled on with his copy, but when the clock
struck five he had still fourteen pages to write. Blast it! He couldn't
finish it in time. He longed to execrate aloud, to bring his fist down
on something violently. He was so enraged that he wrote Bernard Bernard
instead of Bernard Bodley and had to begin again on a clean sheet.
He felt strong enough to clear out the whole office singlehanded. His
body ached to do something, to rush out and revel in violence. All
the indignities of his life enraged him.... Could he ask the cashier
privately for an advance? No, the cashier was no good, no damn good:
he wouldn't give an advance.... He knew where he would meet the boys:
Leonard and O'Halloran and Nosey Flynn. The barometer of his emotional
nature was set for a spell of riot.
His imagination had so abstracted him that his name was called twice
before he answered. Mr. Alleyne and Miss Delacour were standing outside
the counter and all the clerks had turn round in anticipation of
something. The man got up from his desk. Mr. Alleyne began a tirade of
abuse, saying that two letters were missing. The man answered that he
knew nothing about them, that he had made a faithful copy. The tirade
continued: it was so bitter and violent that the man could hardly
restrain his fist from descending upon the head of the manikin before
"I know nothing about any other two letters," he said stupidly.
"You--know--nothing. Of course you know nothing," said Mr. Alleyne.
"Tell me," he added, glancing first for approval to the lady beside him,
"do you take me for a fool? Do you think me an utter fool?"
The man glanced from the lady's face to the little egg-shaped head and
back again; and, almost before he was aware of it, his tongue had found
a felicitous moment:
"I don't think, sir," he said, "that that's a fair question to put to
There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks. Everyone was
astounded (the author of the witticism no less than his neighbours) and
Miss Delacour, who was a stout amiable person, began to smile broadly.
Mr. Alleyne flushed to the hue of a wild rose and his mouth twitched
with a dwarf's passion. He shook his fist in the man's face till it
seemed to vibrate like the knob of some electric machine:
"You impertinent ruffian! You impertinent ruffian! I'll make short work
of you! Wait till you see! You'll apologise to me for your impertinence
or you'll quit the office instanter! You'll quit this, I'm telling you,
or you'll apologise to me!"
* * * * *
He stood in a doorway opposite the office watching to see if the cashier
would come out alone. All the clerks passed out and finally the cashier
came out with the chief clerk. It was no use trying to say a word to him
when he was with the chief clerk. The man felt that his position was bad
enough. He had been obliged to offer an abject apology to Mr. Alleyne
for his impertinence but he knew what a hornet's nest the office would
be for him. He could remember the way in which Mr. Alleyne had hounded
little Peake out of the office in order to make room for his own nephew.
He felt savage and thirsty and revengeful, annoyed with himself and with
everyone else. Mr. Alleyne would never give him an hour's rest; his life
would be a hell to him. He had made a proper fool of himself this time.
Could he not keep his tongue in his cheek? But they had never pulled
together from the first, he and Mr. Alleyne, ever since the day Mr.
Alleyne had overheard him mimicking his North of Ireland accent to amuse
Higgins and Miss Parker: that had been the beginning of it. He might
have tried Higgins for the money, but sure Higgins never had anything
for himself. A man with two establishments to keep up, of course he
He felt his great body again aching for the comfort of the public-house.
The fog had begun to chill him and he wondered could he touch Pat in
O'Neill's. He could not touch him for more than a bob--and a bob was
no use. Yet he must get money somewhere or other: he had spent his
last penny for the g.p. and soon it would be too late for getting money
anywhere. Suddenly, as he was fingering his watch-chain, he thought of
Terry Kelly's pawn-office in Fleet Street. That was the dart! Why didn't
he think of it sooner?
He went through the narrow alley of Temple Bar quickly, muttering to
himself that they could all go to hell because he was going to have
a good night of it. The clerk in Terry Kelly's said A crown! but the
consignor held out for six shillings; and in the end the six shillings
was allowed him literally. He came out of the pawn-office joyfully,
making a little cylinder, of the coins between his thumb and fingers. In
Westmoreland Street the footpaths were crowded with young men and women
returning from business and ragged urchins ran here and there yelling
out the names of the evening editions. The man passed through the crowd,
looking on the spectacle generally with proud satisfaction and staring
masterfully at the office-girls. His head was full of the noises of
tram-gongs and swishing trolleys and his nose already sniffed the
curling fumes of punch. As he walked on he preconsidered the terms in which
he would narrate the incident to the boys:
"So, I just looked at him--coolly, you know, and looked at her. Then I
looked back at him again--taking my time, you know. 'I don't think that
that's a fair question to put to me,' says I."
Nosey Flynn was sitting up in his usual corner of Davy Byrne's and, when
he heard the story, he stood Farrington a half-one, saying it was as
smart a thing as ever he heard. Farrington stood a drink in his turn.
After a while O'Halloran and Paddy Leonard came in and the story was
repeated to them. O'Halloran stood tailors of malt, hot, all round and
told the story of the retort he had made to the chief clerk when he was
in Callan's of Fownes's Street; but, as the retort was after the manner
of the liberal shepherds in the eclogues, he had to admit that it was
not as clever as Farrington's retort. At this Farrington told the boys
to polish off that and have another.
Just as they were naming their poisons who should come in but Higgins!
Of course he had to join in with the others. The men asked him to give
his version of it, and he did so with great vivacity for the sight of
five small hot whiskies was very exhilarating. Everyone roared
laughing when he showed the way in which Mr. Alleyne shook his fist in
Farrington's face. Then he imitated Farrington, saying, "And here was my
nabs, as cool as you please," while Farrington looked at the company out
of his heavy dirty eyes, smiling and at times drawing forth stray drops
of liquor from his moustache with the aid of his lower lip.
When that round was over there was a pause. O'Halloran had money but
neither of the other two seemed to have any; so the whole party left
the shop somewhat regretfully. At the corner of Duke Street Higgins and
Nosey Flynn bevelled off to the left while the other three turned back
towards the city. Rain was drizzling down on the cold streets and, when
they reached the Ballast Office, Farrington suggested the Scotch House.
The bar was full of men and loud with the noise of tongues and glasses.
The three men pushed past the whining match-sellers at the door and
formed a little party at the corner of the counter. They began to
exchange stories. Leonard introduced them to a young fellow named
Weathers who was performing at the Tivoli as an acrobat and knockabout
artiste. Farrington stood a drink all round. Weathers said he would take
a small Irish and Apollinaris. Farrington, who had definite notions of
what was what, asked the boys would they have an Apollinaris too;
but the boys told Tim to make theirs hot. The talk became theatrical.
O'Halloran stood a round and then Farrington stood another round,
Weathers protesting that the hospitality was too Irish. He promised to
get them in behind the scenes and introduce them to some nice girls.
O'Halloran said that he and Leonard would go, but that Farrington
wouldn't go because he was a married man; and Farrington's heavy dirty
eyes leered at the company in token that he understood he was being
chaffed. Weathers made them all have just one little tincture at his
expense and promised to meet them later on at Mulligan's in Poolbeg
When the Scotch House closed they went round to Mulligan's. They went
into the parlour at the back and O'Halloran ordered small hot specials
all round. They were all beginning to feel mellow. Farrington was just
standing another round when Weathers came back. Much to Farrington's
relief he drank a glass of bitter this time. Funds were getting low but
they had enough to keep them going. Presently two young women with big
hats and a young man in a check suit came in and sat at a table close
by. Weathers saluted them and told the company that they were out of the
Tivoli. Farrington's eyes wandered at every moment in the direction of
one of the young women. There was something striking in her appearance.
An immense scarf of peacock-blue muslin was wound round her hat and
knotted in a great bow under her chin; and she wore bright yellow
gloves, reaching to the elbow. Farrington gazed admiringly at the plump
arm which she moved very often and with much grace; and when, after a
little time, she answered his gaze he admired still more her large dark
brown eyes. The oblique staring expression in them fascinated him. She
glanced at him once or twice and, when the party was leaving the room,
she brushed against his chair and said "O, pardon!" in a London accent.
He watched her leave the room in the hope that she would look back at
him, but he was disappointed. He cursed his want of money and cursed all
the rounds he had stood, particularly all the whiskies and Apolinaris
which he had stood to Weathers. If there was one thing that he hated it
was a sponge. He was so angry that he lost count of the conversation of
When Paddy Leonard called him he found that they were talking about
feats of strength. Weathers was showing his biceps muscle to the company
and boasting so much that the other two had called on Farrington to
uphold the national honour. Farrington pulled up his sleeve accordingly
and showed his biceps muscle to the company. The two arms were examined
and compared and finally it was agreed to have a trial of strength. The
table was cleared and the two men rested their elbows on it, clasping
hands. When Paddy Leonard said "Go!" each was to try to bring down
the other's hand on to the table. Farrington looked very serious and
The trial began. After about thirty seconds Weathers brought his
opponent's hand slowly down on to the table. Farrington's dark
wine-coloured face flushed darker still with anger and humiliation at
having been defeated by such a stripling.
"You're not to put the weight of your body behind it. Play fair," he
"Who's not playing fair?" said the other.
"Come on again. The two best out of three."
The trial began again. The veins stood out on Farrington's forehead,
and the pallor of Weathers' complexion changed to peony. Their hands
and arms trembled under the stress. After a long struggle Weathers again
brought his opponent's hand slowly on to the table. There was a murmur
of applause from the spectators. The curate, who was standing beside
the table, nodded his red head towards the victor and said with stupid
"Ah! that's the knack!"
"What the hell do you know about it?" said Farrington fiercely, turning
on the man. "What do you put in your gab for?"
"Sh, sh!" said O'Halloran, observing the violent expression of
Farrington's face. "Pony up, boys. We'll have just one little smahan
more and then we'll be off."
A very sullen-faced man stood at the corner of O'Connell Bridge
waiting for the little Sandymount tram to take him home. He was full
of smouldering anger and revengefulness. He felt humiliated and
discontented; he did not even feel drunk; and he had only twopence in
his pocket. He cursed everything. He had done for himself in the office,
pawned his watch, spent all his money; and he had not even got drunk.
He began to feel thirsty again and he longed to be back again in the hot
reeking public-house. He had lost his reputation as a strong man, having
been defeated twice by a mere boy. His heart swelled with fury and, when
he thought of the woman in the big hat who had brushed against him and
said Pardon! his fury nearly choked him.
His tram let him down at Shelbourne Road and he steered his great body
along in the shadow of the wall of the barracks. He loathed returning
to his home. When he went in by the side-door he found the kitchen empty
and the kitchen fire nearly out. He bawled upstairs:
His wife was a little sharp-faced woman who bullied her husband when
he was sober and was bullied by him when he was drunk. They had five
children. A little boy came running down the stairs.
"Who is that?" said the man, peering through the darkness.
"Who are you? Charlie?"
"No, pa. Tom."
"Where's your mother?"
"She's out at the chapel."
"That's right.... Did she think of leaving any dinner for me?"
"Yes, pa. I--"
"Light the lamp. What do you mean by having the place in darkness? Are
the other children in bed?"
The man sat down heavily on one of the chairs while the little boy
lit the lamp. He began to mimic his son's flat accent, saying half to
himself: "At the chapel. At the chapel, if you please!" When the lamp
was lit he banged his fist on the table and shouted:
"What's for my dinner?"
"I'm going... to cook it, pa," said the little boy.
The man jumped up furiously and pointed to the fire.
"On that fire! You let the fire out! By God, I'll teach you to do that
He took a step to the door and seized the walking-stick which was
standing behind it.
"I'll teach you to let the fire out!" he said, rolling up his sleeve in
order to give his arm free play.
The little boy cried "O, pa!" and ran whimpering round the table, but
the man followed him and caught him by the coat. The little boy looked
about him wildly but, seeing no way of escape, fell upon his knees.
"Now, you'll let the fire out the next time!" said the man striking at
him vigorously with the stick. "Take that, you little whelp!"
The boy uttered a squeal of pain as the stick cut his thigh. He clasped
his hands together in the air and his voice shook with fright.
"O, pa!" he cried. "Don't beat me, pa! And I'll... I'll say a Hail Mary
for you.... I'll say a Hail Mary for you, pa, if you don't beat me....
I'll say a Hail Mary...."
THE matron had given her leave to go out as soon as the women's tea was
over and Maria looked forward to her evening out. The kitchen was
spick and span: the cook said you could see yourself in the big copper
boilers. The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were
four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went
closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices
and were ready to be handed round at tea. Maria had cut them herself.
Maria was a very, very small person indeed but she had a very long
nose and a very long chin. She talked a little through her nose, always
soothingly: "Yes, my dear," and "No, my dear." She was always sent for
when the women quarrelled over their tubs and always succeeded in making
peace. One day the matron had said to her:
"Maria, you are a veritable peace-maker!"
And the sub-matron and two of the Board ladies had heard the compliment.
And Ginger Mooney was always saying what she wouldn't do to the dummy
who had charge of the irons if it wasn't for Maria. Everyone was so fond
The women would have their tea at six o'clock and she would be able to
get away before seven. From Ballsbridge to the Pillar, twenty minutes;
from the Pillar to Drumcondra, twenty minutes; and twenty minutes to buy
the things. She would be there before eight. She took out her purse with
the silver clasps and read again the words A Present from Belfast. She
was very fond of that purse because Joe had brought it to her five years
before when he and Alphy had gone to Belfast on a Whit-Monday trip. In
the purse were two half-crowns and some coppers. She would have five
shillings clear after paying tram fare. What a nice evening they would
have, all the children singing! Only she hoped that Joe wouldn't come in
drunk. He was so different when he took any drink.
Often he had wanted her to go and live with them; but she would have
felt herself in the way (though Joe's wife was ever so nice with her)
and she had become accustomed to the life of the laundry. Joe was a good
fellow. She had nursed him and Alphy too; and Joe used often say:
"Mamma is mamma but Maria is my proper mother."
After the break-up at home the boys had got her that position in the
Dublin by Lamplight laundry, and she liked it. She used to have such
a bad opinion of Protestants but now she thought they were very nice
people, a little quiet and serious, but still very nice people to live
with. Then she had her plants in the conservatory and she liked looking
after them. She had lovely ferns and wax-plants and, whenever anyone
came to visit her, she always gave the visitor one or two slips from
her conservatory. There was one thing she didn't like and that was the
tracts on the walks; but the matron was such a nice person to deal with,
When the cook told her everything was ready she went into the women's
room and began to pull the big bell. In a few minutes the women began
to come in by twos and threes, wiping their steaming hands in their
petticoats and pulling down the sleeves of their blouses over their red
steaming arms. They settled down before their huge mugs which the cook
and the dummy filled up with hot tea, already mixed with milk and sugar
in huge tin cans. Maria superintended the distribution of the barmbrack
and saw that every woman got her four slices. There was a great deal of
laughing and joking during the meal. Lizzie Fleming said Maria was sure
to get the ring and, though Fleming had said that for so many Hallow
Eves, Maria had to laugh and say she didn't want any ring or man either;
and when she laughed her grey-green eyes sparkled with disappointed
shyness and the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin. Then
Ginger Mooney lifted her mug of tea and proposed Maria's health while
all the other women clattered with their mugs on the table, and said she
was sorry she hadn't a sup of porter to drink it in. And Maria laughed
again till the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin and till
her minute body nearly shook itself asunder because she knew that Mooney
meant well though, of course, she had the notions of a common woman.
But wasn't Maria glad when the women had finished their tea and the cook
and the dummy had begun to clear away the tea-things! She went into
her little bedroom and, remembering that the next morning was a mass
morning, changed the hand of the alarm from seven to six. Then she took
off her working skirt and her house-boots and laid her best skirt out on
the bed and her tiny dress-boots beside the foot of the bed. She changed
her blouse too and, as she stood before the mirror, she thought of how
she used to dress for mass on Sunday morning when she was a young girl;
and she looked with quaint affection at the diminutive body which she
had so often adorned. In spite of its years she found it a nice tidy
When she got outside the streets were shining with rain and she was glad
of her old brown waterproof. The tram was full and she had to sit on the
little stool at the end of the car, facing all the people, with her toes
barely touching the floor. She arranged in her mind all she was going to
do and thought how much better it was to be independent and to have your
own money in your pocket. She hoped they would have a nice evening. She
was sure they would but she could not help thinking what a pity it was
Alphy and Joe were not speaking. They were always falling out now but
when they were boys together they used to be the best of friends: but
such was life.
She got out of her tram at the Pillar and ferreted her way quickly among
the crowds. She went into Downes's cake-shop but the shop was so full of
people that it was a long time before she could get herself attended
to. She bought a dozen of mixed penny cakes, and at last came out of the
shop laden with a big bag. Then she thought what else would she buy: she
wanted to buy something really nice. They would be sure to have plenty
of apples and nuts. It was hard to know what to buy and all she could
think of was cake. She decided to buy some plumcake but Downes's
plumcake had not enough almond icing on top of it so she went over to
a shop in Henry Street. Here she was a long time in suiting herself and
the stylish young lady behind the counter, who was evidently a little
annoyed by her, asked her was it wedding-cake she wanted to buy. That
made Maria blush and smile at the young lady; but the young lady took it
all very seriously and finally cut a thick slice of plumcake, parcelled
it up and said:
She thought she would have to stand in the Drumcondra tram because none
of the young men seemed to notice her but an elderly gentleman made room
for her. He was a stout gentleman and he wore a brown hard hat; he had
a square red face and a greyish moustache. Maria thought he was a
colonel-looking gentleman and she reflected how much more polite he was
than the young men who simply stared straight before them. The gentleman
began to chat with her about Hallow Eve and the rainy weather. He
supposed the bag was full of good things for the little ones and said
it was only right that the youngsters should enjoy themselves while they
were young. Maria agreed with him and favoured him with demure nods and
hems. He was very nice with her, and when she was getting out at the
Canal Bridge she thanked him and bowed, and he bowed to her and raised
his hat and smiled agreeably, and while she was going up along the
terrace, bending her tiny head under the rain, she thought how easy it
was to know a gentleman even when he has a drop taken.
Everybody said: "O, here's Maria!" when she came to Joe's house. Joe was
there, having come home from business, and all the children had their
Sunday dresses on. There were two big girls in from next door and games
were going on. Maria gave the bag of cakes to the eldest boy, Alphy, to
divide and Mrs. Donnelly said it was too good of her to bring such a big
bag of cakes and made all the children say:
But Maria said she had brought something special for papa and mamma,
something they would be sure to like, and she began to look for her
plumcake. She tried in Downes's bag and then in the pockets of her
waterproof and then on the hallstand but nowhere could she find it.
Then she asked all the children had any of them eaten it--by mistake, of
course--but the children all said no and looked as if they did not like
to eat cakes if they were to be accused of stealing. Everybody had a
solution for the mystery and Mrs. Donnelly said it was plain that Maria
had left it behind her in the tram. Maria, remembering how confused the
gentleman with the greyish moustache had made her, coloured with shame
and vexation and disappointment. At the thought of the failure of her
little surprise and of the two and fourpence she had thrown away for
nothing she nearly cried outright.
But Joe said it didn't matter and made her sit down by the fire. He
was very nice with her. He told her all that went on in his office,
repeating for her a smart answer which he had made to the manager. Maria
did not understand why Joe laughed so much over the answer he had made
but she said that the manager must have been a very overbearing person
to deal with. Joe said he wasn't so bad when you knew how to take him,
that he was a decent sort so long as you didn't rub him the wrong way.
Mrs. Donnelly played the piano for the children and they danced and
sang. Then the two next-door girls handed round the nuts. Nobody could
find the nutcrackers and Joe was nearly getting cross over it and asked
how did they expect Maria to crack nuts without a nutcracker. But Maria
said she didn't like nuts and that they weren't to bother about her.
Then Joe asked would she take a bottle of stout and Mrs. Donnelly said
there was port wine too in the house if she would prefer that. Maria
said she would rather they didn't ask her to take anything: but Joe
So Maria let him have his way and they sat by the fire talking over old
times and Maria thought she would put in a good word for Alphy. But Joe
cried that God might strike him stone dead if ever he spoke a word to
his brother again and Maria said she was sorry she had mentioned the
matter. Mrs. Donnelly told her husband it was a great shame for him to
speak that way of his own flesh and blood but Joe said that Alphy was no
brother of his and there was nearly being a row on the head of it. But
Joe said he would not lose his temper on account of the night it was
and asked his wife to open some more stout. The two next-door girls
had arranged some Hallow Eve games and soon everything was merry again.
Maria was delighted to see the children so merry and Joe and his wife in
such good spirits. The next-door girls put some saucers on the table
and then led the children up to the table, blindfold. One got the
prayer-book and the other three got the water; and when one of the
next-door girls got the ring Mrs. Donnelly shook her finger at the
blushing girl as much as to say: O, I know all about it! They insisted
then on blindfolding Maria and leading her up to the table to see
what she would get; and, while they were putting on the bandage, Maria
laughed and laughed again till the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of
They led her up to the table amid laughing and joking and she put her
hand out in the air as she was told to do. She moved her hand about here
and there in the air and descended on one of the saucers. She felt a
soft wet substance with her fingers and was surprised that nobody spoke
or took off her bandage. There was a pause for a few seconds; and then
a great deal of scuffling and whispering. Somebody said something about
the garden, and at last Mrs. Donnelly said something very cross to one
of the next-door girls and told her to throw it out at once: that was no
play. Maria understood that it was wrong that time and so she had to do
it over again: and this time she got the prayer-book.
After that Mrs. Donnelly played Miss McCloud's Reel for the children
and Joe made Maria take a glass of wine. Soon they were all quite merry
again and Mrs. Donnelly said Maria would enter a convent before the year
was out because she had got the prayer-book. Maria had never seen Joe
so nice to her as he was that night, so full of pleasant talk and
reminiscences. She said they were all very good to her.
At last the children grew tired and sleepy and Joe asked Maria would she
not sing some little song before she went, one of the old songs. Mrs.
Donnelly said "Do, please, Maria!" and so Maria had to get up and stand
beside the piano. Mrs. Donnelly bade the children be quiet and listen
to Maria's song. Then she played the prelude and said "Now, Maria!" and
Maria, blushing very much began to sing in a tiny quavering voice. She
sang I Dreamt that I Dwelt, and when she came to the second verse she
I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count; could boast
Of a high ancestral name,
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you loved me still the same.
But no one tried to show her her mistake; and when she had ended her
song Joe was very much moved. He said that there was no time like the
long ago and no music for him like poor old Balfe, whatever other people
might say; and his eyes filled up so much with tears that he could not
find what he was looking for and in the end he had to ask his wife to
tell him where the corkscrew was.
A PAINFUL CASE
MR. JAMES DUFFY lived in Chapelizod because he wished to live as far as
possible from the city of which he was a citizen and because he found
all the other suburbs of Dublin mean, modern and pretentious. He lived
in an old sombre house and from his windows he could look into the
disused distillery or upwards along the shallow river on which Dublin is
built. The lofty walls of his uncarpeted room were free from pictures.
He had himself bought every article of furniture in the room: a black
iron bedstead, an iron washstand, four cane chairs, a clothes-rack,
a coal-scuttle, a fender and irons and a square table on which lay a
double desk. A bookcase had been made in an alcove by means of shelves
of white wood. The bed was clothed with white bedclothes and a black
and scarlet rug covered the foot. A little hand-mirror hung above the
washstand and during the day a white-shaded lamp stood as the sole
ornament of the mantelpiece. The books on the white wooden shelves were
arranged from below upwards according to bulk. A complete Wordsworth
stood at one end of the lowest shelf and a copy of the Maynooth
Catechism, sewn into the cloth cover of a notebook, stood at one end of
the top shelf. Writing materials were always on the desk. In the desk
lay a manuscript translation of Hauptmann's Michael Kramer, the stage
directions of which were written in purple ink, and a little sheaf of
papers held together by a brass pin. In these sheets a sentence was
inscribed from time to time and, in an ironical moment, the headline of
an advertisement for Bile Beans had been pasted on to the first sheet.
On lifting the lid of the desk a faint fragrance escaped--the fragrance
of new cedarwood pencils or of a bottle of gum or of an overripe apple
which might have been left there and forgotten.
Mr. Duffy abhorred anything which betokened physical or mental disorder.
A mediaeval doctor would have called him saturnine. His face, which
carried the entire tale of his years, was of the brown tint of Dublin
streets. On his long and rather large head grew dry black hair and a
tawny moustache did not quite cover an unamiable mouth. His cheekbones
also gave his face a harsh character; but there was no harshness in the
eyes which, looking at the world from under their tawny eyebrows, gave
the impression of a man ever alert to greet a redeeming instinct in
others but often disappointed. He lived at a little distance from his
body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd
autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time
to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third
person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars
and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel.
He had been for many years cashier of a private bank in Baggot Street.
Every morning he came in from Chapelizod by tram. At midday he went
to Dan Burke's and took his lunch--a bottle of lager beer and a small
trayful of arrowroot biscuits. At four o'clock he was set free. He dined
in an eating-house in George's Street where he felt himself safe from
the society of Dublin's gilded youth and where there was a certain plain
honesty in the bill of fare. His evenings were spent either before his
landlady's piano or roaming about the outskirts of the city. His liking
for Mozart's music brought him sometimes to an opera or a concert: these
were the only dissipations of his life.
He had neither companions nor friends, church nor creed. He lived his
spiritual life without any communion with others, visiting his relatives
at Christmas and escorting them to the cemetery when they died. He
performed these two social duties for old dignity's sake but conceded
nothing further to the conventions which regulate the civic life. He
allowed himself to think that in certain circumstances he would rob
his hank but, as these circumstances never arose, his life rolled out
evenly--an adventureless tale.
One evening he found himself sitting beside two ladies in the Rotunda.
The house, thinly peopled and silent, gave distressing prophecy of
failure. The lady who sat next him looked round at the deserted house
once or twice and then said:
"What a pity there is such a poor house tonight! It's so hard on people
to have to sing to empty benches."
He took the remark as an invitation to talk. He was surprised that
she seemed so little awkward. While they talked he tried to fix her
permanently in his memory. When he learned that the young girl beside
her was her daughter he judged her to be a year or so younger than
himself. Her face, which must have been handsome, had remained
intelligent. It was an oval face with strongly marked features. The eyes
were very dark blue and steady. Their gaze began with a defiant note
but was confused by what seemed a deliberate swoon of the pupil into the
iris, revealing for an instant a temperament of great sensibility. The
pupil reasserted itself quickly, this half-disclosed nature fell again
under the reign of prudence, and her astrakhan jacket, moulding a bosom
of a certain fullness, struck the note of defiance more definitely.
He met her again a few weeks afterwards at a concert in Earlsfort
Terrace and seized the moments when her daughter's attention was
diverted to become intimate. She alluded once or twice to her husband
but her tone was not such as to make the allusion a warning. Her name
was Mrs. Sinico. Her husband's great-great-grandfather had come from
Leghorn. Her husband was captain of a mercantile boat plying between
Dublin and Holland; and they had one child.
Meeting her a third time by accident he found courage to make an
appointment. She came. This was the first of many meetings; they met
always in the evening and chose the most quiet quarters for their walks
together. Mr. Duffy, however, had a distaste for underhand ways and,
finding that they were compelled to meet stealthily, he forced her to
ask him to her house. Captain Sinico encouraged his visits, thinking
that his daughter's hand was in question. He had dismissed his wife so
sincerely from his gallery of pleasures that he did not suspect that
anyone else would take an interest in her. As the husband was often
away and the daughter out giving music lessons Mr. Duffy had many
opportunities of enjoying the lady's society. Neither he nor she had had
any such adventure before and neither was conscious of any incongruity.
Little by little he entangled his thoughts with hers. He lent her books,
provided her with ideas, shared his intellectual life with her. She
listened to all.
Sometimes in return for his theories she gave out some fact of her own
life. With almost maternal solicitude she urged him to let his nature
open to the full: she became his confessor. He told her that for some
time he had assisted at the meetings of an Irish Socialist Party where
he had felt himself a unique figure amidst a score of sober workmen in
a garret lit by an inefficient oil-lamp. When the party had divided into
three sections, each under its own leader and in its own garret, he had
discontinued his attendances. The workmen's discussions, he said,
were too timorous; the interest they took in the question of wages was
inordinate. He felt that they were hard-featured realists and that they
resented an exactitude which was the produce of a leisure not within
their reach. No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to
strike Dublin for some centuries.
She asked him why did he not write out his thoughts. For what, he asked
her, with careful scorn. To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of
thinking consecutively for sixty seconds? To submit himself to the
criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to
policemen and its fine arts to impresarios?
He went often to her little cottage outside Dublin; often they spent
their evenings alone. Little by little, as their thoughts entangled,
they spoke of subjects less remote. Her companionship was like a warm
soil about an exotic. Many times she allowed the dark to fall upon
them, refraining from lighting the lamp. The dark discreet room, their
isolation, the music that still vibrated in their ears united them.
This union exalted him, wore away the rough edges of his character,
emotionalised his mental life. Sometimes he caught himself listening to
the sound of his own voice. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend
to an angelical stature; and, as he attached the fervent nature of his
companion more and more closely to him, he heard the strange impersonal
voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul's incurable
loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own. The end
of these discourses was that one night during which she had shown every
sign of unusual excitement, Mrs. Sinico caught up his hand passionately
and pressed it to her cheek.
Mr. Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words
disillusioned him. He did not visit her for a week, then he wrote to her
asking her to meet him. As he did not wish their last interview to be
troubled by the influence of their ruined confessional they met in a
little cakeshop near the Parkgate. It was cold autumn weather but in
spite of the cold they wandered up and down the roads of the Park for
nearly three hours. They agreed to break off their intercourse: every
bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow. When they came out of the Park they
walked in silence towards the tram; but here she began to tremble
so violently that, fearing another collapse on her part, he bade her
good-bye quickly and left her. A few days later he received a parcel
containing his books and music.
Four years passed. Mr. Duffy returned to his even way of life. His room
still bore witness of the orderliness of his mind. Some new pieces of
music encumbered the music-stand in the lower room and on his shelves
stood two volumes by Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra and The Gay
Science. He wrote seldom in the sheaf of papers which lay in his desk.
One of his sentences, written two months after his last interview with
Mrs. Sinico, read: Love between man and man is impossible because there
must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is
impossible because there must be sexual intercourse. He kept away from
concerts lest he should meet her. His father died; the junior partner of
the bank retired. And still every morning he went into the city by
tram and every evening walked home from the city after having dined
moderately in George's Street and read the evening paper for dessert.
One evening as he was about to put a morsel of corned beef and cabbage
into his mouth his hand stopped. His eyes fixed themselves on a
paragraph in the evening paper which he had propped against the
water-carafe. He replaced the morsel of food on his plate and read the
paragraph attentively. Then he drank a glass of water, pushed his plate
to one side, doubled the paper down before him between his elbows and
read the paragraph over and over again. The cabbage began to deposit a
cold white grease on his plate. The girl came over to him to ask was
his dinner not properly cooked. He said it was very good and ate a few
mouthfuls of it with difficulty. Then he paid his bill and went out.
He walked along quickly through the November twilight, his stout hazel
stick striking the ground regularly, the fringe of the buff Mail peeping
out of a side-pocket of his tight reefer overcoat. On the lonely road
which leads from the Parkgate to Chapelizod he slackened his pace.
His stick struck the ground less emphatically and his breath, issuing
irregularly, almost with a sighing sound, condensed in the wintry air.
When he reached his house he went up at once to his bedroom and, taking
the paper from his pocket, read the paragraph again by the failing light
of the window. He read it not aloud, but moving his lips as a priest
does when he reads the prayers Secreto. This was the paragraph:
DEATH OF A LADY AT SYDNEY PARADE
A PAINFUL CASE
Today at the City of Dublin Hospital the Deputy Coroner (in the absence
of Mr. Leverett) held an inquest on the body of Mrs. Emily Sinico, aged
forty-three years, who was killed at Sydney Parade Station yesterday
evening. The evidence showed that the deceased lady, while attempting to
cross the line, was knocked down by the engine of the ten o'clock slow
train from Kingstown, thereby sustaining injuries of the head and right
side which led to her death.
James Lennon, driver of the engine, stated that he had been in the
employment of the railway company for fifteen years. On hearing
the guard's whistle he set the train in motion and a second or two
afterwards brought it to rest in response to loud cries. The train was
P. Dunne, railway porter, stated that as the train was about to start he
observed a woman attempting to cross the lines. He ran towards her and
shouted, but, before he could reach her, she was caught by the buffer of
the engine and fell to the ground.
A juror. "You saw the lady fall?"
Police Sergeant Croly deposed that when he arrived he found the deceased
lying on the platform apparently dead. He had the body taken to the
waiting-room pending the arrival of the ambulance.
Constable 57E corroborated.
Dr. Halpin, assistant house surgeon of the City of Dublin Hospital,
stated that the deceased had two lower ribs fractured and had sustained
severe contusions of the right shoulder. The right side of the head
had been injured in the fall. The injuries were not sufficient to
have caused death in a normal person. Death, in his opinion, had been
probably due to shock and sudden failure of the heart's action.
Mr. H. B. Patterson Finlay, on behalf of the railway company, expressed
his deep regret at the accident. The company had always taken every
precaution to prevent people crossing the lines except by the bridges,
both by placing notices in every station and by the use of patent spring
gates at level crossings. The deceased had been in the habit of crossing
the lines late at night from platform to platform and, in view of
certain other circumstances of the case, he did not think the railway
officials were to blame.
Captain Sinico, of Leoville, Sydney Parade, husband of the deceased,
also gave evidence. He stated that the deceased was his wife. He was
not in Dublin at the time of the accident as he had arrived only that
morning from Rotterdam. They had been married for twenty-two years and
had lived happily until about two years ago when his wife began to be
rather intemperate in her habits.
Miss Mary Sinico said that of late her mother had been in the habit
of going out at night to buy spirits. She, witness, had often tried to
reason with her mother and had induced her to join a league. She was not
at home until an hour after the accident. The jury returned a verdict
in accordance with the medical evidence and exonerated Lennon from all
The Deputy Coroner said it was a most painful case, and expressed great
sympathy with Captain Sinico and his daughter. He urged on the railway
company to take strong measures to prevent the possibility of similar
accidents in the future. No blame attached to anyone.
Mr. Duffy raised his eyes from the paper and gazed out of his window on
the cheerless evening landscape. The river lay quiet beside the empty
distillery and from time to time a light appeared in some house on the
Lucan road. What an end! The whole narrative of her death revolted him
and it revolted him to think that he had ever spoken to her of what he
held sacred. The threadbare phrases, the inane expressions of sympathy,
the cautious words of a reporter won over to conceal the details of
a commonplace vulgar death attacked his stomach. Not merely had she
degraded herself; she had degraded him. He saw the squalid tract of her
vice, miserable and malodorous. His soul's companion! He thought of
the hobbling wretches whom he had seen carrying cans and bottles to
be filled by the barman. Just God, what an end! Evidently she had been
unfit to live, without any strength of purpose, an easy prey to habits,
one of the wrecks on which civilisation has been reared. But that she
could have sunk so low! Was it possible he had deceived himself
so utterly about her? He remembered her outburst of that night and
interpreted it in a harsher sense than he had ever done. He had no
difficulty now in approving of the course he had taken.
As the light failed and his memory began to wander he thought her hand
touched his. The shock which had first attacked his stomach was now
attacking his nerves. He put on his overcoat and hat quickly and went
out. The cold air met him on the threshold; it crept into the sleeves of
his coat. When he came to the public-house at Chapelizod Bridge he went
in and ordered a hot punch.
The proprietor served him obsequiously but did not venture to talk.
There were five or six workingmen in the shop discussing the value of a
gentleman's estate in County Kildare They drank at intervals from their
huge pint tumblers and smoked, spitting often on the floor and sometimes
dragging the sawdust over their spits with their heavy boots. Mr. Duffy
sat on his stool and gazed at them, without seeing or hearing them.
After a while they went out and he called for another punch. He sat a
long time over it. The shop was very quiet. The proprietor sprawled on
the counter reading the Herald and yawning. Now and again a tram was
heard swishing along the lonely road outside.
As he sat there, living over his life with her and evoking alternately
the two images in which he now conceived her, he realised that she was
dead, that she had ceased to exist, that she had become a memory. He
began to feel ill at ease. He asked himself what else could he have
done. He could not have carried on a comedy of deception with her; he
could not have lived with her openly. He had done what seemed to him
best. How was he to blame? Now that she was gone he understood how
lonely her life must have been, sitting night after night alone in that
room. His life would be lonely too until he, too, died, ceased to exist,
became a memory--if anyone remembered him.
It was after nine o'clock when he left the shop. The night was cold and
gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the
gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked
four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments
he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood
still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her? Why had he sentenced
her to death? He felt his moral nature falling to pieces.
When he gained the crest of the Magazine Hill he halted and looked
along the river towards Dublin, the lights of which burned redly and
hospitably in the cold night. He looked down the slope and, at the base,
in the shadow of the wall of the Park, he saw some human figures lying.
Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair. He gnawed the
rectitude of his life; he felt that he had been outcast from life's
feast. One human being had seemed to love him and he had denied her life
and happiness: he had sentenced her to ignominy, a death of shame. He
knew that the prostrate creatures down by the wall were watching him and
wished him gone. No one wanted him; he was outcast from life's feast.
He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards
Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge
Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness,
obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still
he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the
syllables of her name.
He turned back the way he had come, the rhythm of the engine pounding
in his ears. He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him. He
halted under a tree and allowed the rhythm to die away. He could not
feel her near him in the darkness nor her voice touch his ear. He
waited for some minutes listening. He could hear nothing: the night was
perfectly silent. He listened again: perfectly silent. He felt that he
IVY DAY IN THE COMMITTEE ROOM
OLD JACK raked the cinders together with a piece of cardboard and spread
them judiciously over the whitening dome of coals. When the dome was
thinly covered his face lapsed into darkness but, as he set himself to
fan the fire again, his crouching shadow ascended the opposite wall and
his face slowly re-emerged into light. It was an old man's face, very
bony and hairy. The moist blue eyes blinked at the fire and the moist
mouth fell open at times, munching once or twice mechanically when
it closed. When the cinders had caught he laid the piece of cardboard
against the wall, sighed and said:
"That's better now, Mr. O'Connor."
Mr. O'Connor, a grey-haired young man, whose face was disfigured by many
blotches and pimples, had just brought the tobacco for a cigarette
into a shapely cylinder but when spoken to he undid his handiwork
meditatively. Then he began to roll the tobacco again meditatively and
after a moment's thought decided to lick the paper.
"Did Mr. Tierney say when he'd be back?" he asked in a husky falsetto.
"He didn't say."
Mr. O'Connor put his cigarette into his mouth and began search his
pockets. He took out a pack of thin pasteboard cards.
"I'll get you a match," said the old man.
"Never mind, this'll do," said Mr. O'Connor.
He selected one of the cards and read what was printed on it:
ROYAL EXCHANGE WARD
Mr. Richard J. Tierney, P.L.G., respectfully solicits the favour of your
vote and influence at the coming election in the Royal Exchange Ward.
Mr. O'Connor had been engaged by Tierney's agent to canvass one part of
the ward but, as the weather was inclement and his boots let in the wet,
he spent a great part of the day sitting by the fire in the Committee
Room in Wicklow Street with Jack, the old caretaker. They had been
sitting thus since the short day had grown dark. It was the sixth of
October, dismal and cold out of doors.
Mr. O'Connor tore a strip off the card and, lighting it, lit his
cigarette. As he did so the flame lit up a leaf of dark glossy ivy the
lapel of his coat. The old man watched him attentively and then, taking
up the piece of cardboard again, began to fan the fire slowly while his
"Ah, yes," he said, continuing, "it's hard to know what way to bring
up children. Now who'd think he'd turn out like that! I sent him to
the Christian Brothers and I done what I could for him, and there he goes
boosing about. I tried to make him someway decent."
He replaced the cardboard wearily.
"Only I'm an old man now I'd change his tune for him. I'd take the stick
to his back and beat him while I could stand over him--as I done many
a time before. The mother, you know, she cocks him up with this and
"That's what ruins children," said Mr. O'Connor.
"To be sure it is," said the old man. "And little thanks you get for it,
only impudence. He takes th'upper hand of me whenever he sees I've a
sup taken. What's the world coming to when sons speaks that way to their
"What age is he?" said Mr. O'Connor.
"Nineteen," said the old man.
"Why don't you put him to something?"
"Sure, amn't I never done at the drunken bowsy ever since he left
school? 'I won't keep you,' I says. 'You must get a job for yourself.'
But, sure, it's worse whenever he gets a job; he drinks it all."
Mr. O'Connor shook his head in sympathy, and the old man fell silent,
gazing into the fire. Someone opened the door of the room and called
"Hello! Is this a Freemasons' meeting?"
"Who's that?" said the old man.
"What are you doing in the dark?" asked a voice.
"Is that you, Hynes?" asked Mr. O'Connor.
"Yes. What are you doing in the dark?" said Mr. Hynes. advancing into
the light of the fire.
He was a tall, slender young man with a light brown moustache. Imminent
little drops of rain hung at the brim of his hat and the collar of his
jacket-coat was turned up.
"Well, Mat," he said to Mr. O'Connor, "how goes it?"
Mr. O'Connor shook his head. The old man left the hearth and, after
stumbling about the room returned with two candlesticks which he thrust
one after the other into the fire and carried to the table. A denuded
room came into view and the fire lost all its cheerful colour. The walls
of the room were bare except for a copy of an election address. In the
middle of the room was a small table on which papers were heaped.
Mr. Hynes leaned against the mantelpiece and asked:
"Has he paid you yet?"
"Not yet," said Mr. O'Connor. "I hope to God he'll not leave us in the
Mr. Hynes laughed.
"O, he'll pay you. Never fear," he said.
"I hope he'll look smart about it if he means business," said Mr.
"What do you think, Jack?" said Mr. Hynes satirically to the old man.
The old man returned to his seat by the fire, saying:
"It isn't but he has it, anyway. Not like the other tinker."
"What other tinker?" said Mr. Hynes.
"Colgan," said the old man scornfully.
"It is because Colgan's a working-man you say that? What's the
difference between a good honest bricklayer and a publican--eh? Hasn't
the working-man as good a right to be in the Corporation as anyone
else--ay, and a better right than those shoneens that are always hat in
hand before any fellow with a handle to his name? Isn't that so, Mat?"
said Mr. Hynes, addressing Mr. O'Connor.
"I think you're right," said Mr. O'Connor.
"One man is a plain honest man with no hunker-sliding about him. He goes
in to represent the labour classes. This fellow you're working for only
wants to get some job or other."
"Of course, the working-classes should be represented," said the old
"The working-man," said Mr. Hynes, "gets all kicks and no halfpence. But
it's labour produces everything. The working-man is not looking for fat
jobs for his sons and nephews and cousins. The working-man is not going
to drag the honour of Dublin in the mud to please a German monarch."
"How's that?" said the old man.
"Don't you know they want to present an address of welcome to Edward
Rex if he comes here next year? What do we want kowtowing to a foreign
"Our man won't vote for the address," said Mr. O'Connor. "He goes in on
the Nationalist ticket."
"Won't he?" said Mr. Hynes. "Wait till you see whether he will or not. I
know him. Is it Tricky Dicky Tierney?"
"By God! perhaps you're right, Joe," said Mr. O'Connor. "Anyway, I wish
he'd turn up with the spondulics."
The three men fell silent. The old man began to rake more cinders
together. Mr. Hynes took off his hat, shook it and then turned down the
collar of his coat, displaying, as he did so, an ivy leaf in the lapel.
"If this man was alive," he said, pointing to the leaf, "we'd have no
talk of an address of welcome."
"That's true," said Mr. O'Connor.
"Musha, God be with them times!" said the old man. "There was some life
in it then."
The room was silent again. Then a bustling little man with a snuffling
nose and very cold ears pushed in the door. He walked over quickly to
the fire, rubbing his hands as if he intended to produce a spark from
"No money, boys," he said.
"Sit down here, Mr. Henchy," said the old man, offering him his chair.
"O, don't stir, Jack, don't stir," said Mr. Henchy
He nodded curtly to Mr. Hynes and sat down on the chair which the old
"Did you serve Aungier Street?" he asked Mr. O'Connor.
"Yes," said Mr. O'Connor, beginning to search his pockets for memoranda.
"Did you call on Grimes?"
"Well? How does he stand?"
"He wouldn't promise. He said: 'I won't tell anyone what way I'm going
to vote.' But I think he'll be all right."
"He asked me who the nominators were; and I told him. I mentioned Father
Burke's name. I think it'll be all right."
Mr. Henchy began to snuffle and to rub his hands over the fire at a
terrific speed. Then he said:
"For the love of God, Jack, bring us a bit of coal. There must be some
The old man went out of the room.
"It's no go," said Mr. Henchy, shaking his head. "I asked the little
shoeboy, but he said: 'Oh, now, Mr. Henchy, when I see work going on
properly I won't forget you, you may be sure.' Mean little tinker!
'Usha, how could he be anything else?"
"What did I tell you, Mat?" said Mr. Hynes. "Tricky Dicky Tierney."
"O, he's as tricky as they make 'em," said Mr. Henchy. "He hasn't got
those little pigs' eyes for nothing. Blast his soul! Couldn't he pay
up like a man instead of: 'O, now, Mr. Henchy, I must speak to Mr.
Fanning.... I've spent a lot of money'? Mean little school-boy of hell! I
suppose he forgets the time his little old father kept the hand-me-down
shop in Mary's Lane."
"But is that a fact?" asked Mr. O'Connor.
"God, yes," said Mr. Henchy. "Did you never hear that? And the men
used to go in on Sunday morning before the houses were open to buy a
waistcoat or a trousers--moya! But Tricky Dicky's little old father
always had a tricky little black bottle up in a corner. Do you mind now?
That's that. That's where he first saw the light."
The old man returned with a few lumps of coal which he placed here and
there on the fire.
"Thats a nice how-do-you-do," said Mr. O'Connor. "How does he expect us
to work for him if he won't stump up?"
"I can't help it," said Mr. Henchy. "I expect to find the bailiffs in
the hall when I go home."
Mr. Hynes laughed and, shoving himself away from the mantelpiece with
the aid of his shoulders, made ready to leave.
"It'll be all right when King Eddie comes," he said. "Well boys, I'm off
for the present. See you later. 'Bye, 'bye."
He went out of the room slowly. Neither Mr. Henchy nor the old man said
anything, but, just as the door was closing, Mr. O'Connor, who had been
staring moodily into the fire, called out suddenly:
Mr. Henchy waited a few moments and then nodded in the direction of the
"Tell me," he said across the fire, "what brings our friend in here?
What does he want?"
"'Usha, poor Joe!" said Mr. O'Connor, throwing the end of his cigarette
into the fire, "he's hard up, like the rest of us."
Mr. Henchy snuffled vigorously and spat so copiously that he nearly put
out the fire, which uttered a hissing protest.
"To tell you my private and candid opinion," he said, "I think he's a
man from the other camp. He's a spy of Colgan's, if you ask me. Just go
round and try and find out how they're getting on. They won't suspect
you. Do you twig?"
"Ah, poor Joe is a decent skin," said Mr. O'Connor.
"His father was a decent, respectable man," Mr. Henchy admitted. "Poor
old Larry Hynes! Many a good turn he did in his day! But I'm greatly
afraid our friend is not nineteen carat. Damn it, I can understand a
fellow being hard up, but what I can't understand is a fellow sponging.
Couldn't he have some spark of manhood about him?"
"He doesn't get a warm welcome from me when he comes," said the old man.
"Let him work for his own side and not come spying around here."
"I don't know," said Mr. O'Connor dubiously, as he took out
cigarette-papers and tobacco. "I think Joe Hynes is a straight man.
He's a clever chap, too, with the pen. Do you remember that thing he
"Some of these hillsiders and fenians are a bit too clever if you ask me,"
said Mr. Henchy. "Do you know what my private and candid opinion is
about some of those little jokers? I believe half of them are in the pay
of the Castle."
"There's no knowing," said the old man.
"O, but I know it for a fact," said Mr. Henchy. "They're Castle
hacks.... I don't say Hynes.... No, damn it, I think he's a stroke above
that.... But there's a certain little nobleman with a cock-eye--you know
the patriot I'm alluding to?"
Mr. O'Connor nodded.
"There's a lineal descendant of Major Sirr for you if you like! O, the
heart's blood of a patriot! That's a fellow now that'd sell his country
for fourpence--ay--and go down on his bended knees and thank the
Almighty Christ he had a country to sell."
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in!" said Mr. Henchy.
A person resembling a poor clergyman or a poor actor appeared in the
doorway. His black clothes were tightly buttoned on his short body
and it was impossible to say whether he wore a clergyman's collar or
a layman's, because the collar of his shabby frock-coat, the uncovered
buttons of which reflected the candlelight, was turned up about his
neck. He wore a round hat of hard black felt. His face, shining with
raindrops, had the appearance of damp yellow cheese save where two rosy
spots indicated the cheekbones. He opened his very long mouth suddenly
to express disappointment and at the same time opened wide his very
bright blue eyes to express pleasure and surprise.
"O Father Keon!" said Mr. Henchy, jumping up from his chair. "Is that
you? Come in!"
"O, no, no, no!" said Father Keon quickly, pursing his lips as if he
were addressing a child.
"Won't you come in and sit down?"
"No, no, no!" said Father Keon, speaking in a discreet, indulgent,
velvety voice. "Don't let me disturb you now! I'm just looking for Mr.
"He's round at the Black Eagle," said Mr. Henchy. "But won't you come in
and sit down a minute?"
"No, no, thank you. It was just a little business matter," said Father
Keon. "Thank you, indeed."
He retreated from the doorway and Mr. Henchy, seizing one of the
candlesticks, went to the door to light him downstairs.
"O, don't trouble, I beg!"
"No, but the stairs is so dark."
"No, no, I can see.... Thank you, indeed."
"Are you right now?"
"All right, thanks.... Thanks."
Mr. Henchy returned with the candlestick and put it on the table. He sat
down again at the fire. There was silence for a few moments.
"Tell me, John," said Mr. O'Connor, lighting his cigarette with another
"What he is exactly?"
"Ask me an easier one," said Mr. Henchy.
"Fanning and himself seem to me very thick. They're often in Kavanagh's
together. Is he a priest at all?"
"Mmmyes, I believe so.... I think he's what you call a black sheep.
We haven't many of them, thank God! but we have a few.... He's an
unfortunate man of some kind...."
"And how does he knock it out?" asked Mr. O'Connor.
"That's another mystery."
"Is he attached to any chapel or church or institution or----"
"No," said Mr. Henchy, "I think he's travelling on his own account....
God forgive me," he added, "I thought he was the dozen of stout."
"Is there any chance of a drink itself?" asked Mr. O'Connor.
"I'm dry too," said the old man.
"I asked that little shoeboy three times," said Mr. Henchy, "would he
send up a dozen of stout. I asked him again now, but he was leaning
on the counter in his shirt-sleeves having a deep goster with Alderman
"Why didn't you remind him?" said Mr. O'Connor.
"Well, I couldn't go over while he was talking to Alderman Cowley. I
just waited till I caught his eye, and said: 'About that little matter I
was speaking to you about....' 'That'll be all right, Mr. H.,' he said.
Yerra, sure the little hop-o'-my-thumb has forgotten all about it."
"There's some deal on in that quarter," said Mr. O'Connor thoughtfully.
"I saw the three of them hard at it yesterday at Suffolk Street corner."
"I think I know the little game they're at," said Mr. Henchy. "You must
owe the City Fathers money nowadays if you want to be made Lord Mayor.
Then they'll make you Lord Mayor. By God! I'm thinking seriously of
becoming a City Father myself. What do you think? Would I do for the
Mr. O'Connor laughed.
"So far as owing money goes...."
"Driving out of the Mansion House," said Mr. Henchy, "in all my vermin,
with Jack here standing up behind me in a powdered wig--eh?"
"And make me your private secretary, John."
"Yes. And I'll make Father Keon my private chaplain. We'll have a family
"Faith, Mr. Henchy," said the old man, "you'd keep up better style than
some of them. I was talking one day to old Keegan, the porter. 'And
how do you like your new master, Pat?' says I to him. 'You haven't much
entertaining now,' says I. 'Entertaining!' says he. 'He'd live on the
smell of an oil-rag.' And do you know what he told me? Now, I declare to
God I didn't believe him."
"What?" said Mr. Henchy and Mr. O'Connor.
"He told me: 'What do you think of a Lord Mayor of Dublin sending out
for a pound of chops for his dinner? How's that for high living?' says
he. 'Wisha! wisha,' says I. 'A pound of chops,' says he, 'coming into
the Mansion House.' 'Wisha!' says I, 'what kind of people is going at
At this point there was a knock at the door, and a boy put in his head.
"What is it?" said the old man.
"From the Black Eagle," said the boy, walking in sideways and depositing
a basket on the floor with a noise of shaken bottles.
The old man helped the boy to transfer the bottles from the basket to
the table and counted the full tally. After the transfer the boy put his
basket on his arm and asked:
"What bottles?" said the old man.
"Won't you let us drink them first?" said Mr. Henchy.
"I was told to ask for the bottles."
"Come back tomorrow," said the old man.
"Here, boy!" said Mr. Henchy, "will you run over to O'Farrell's and ask
him to lend us a corkscrew--for Mr. Henchy, say. Tell him we won't keep
it a minute. Leave the basket there."
The boy went out and Mr. Henchy began to rub his hands cheerfully,
"Ah, well, he's not so bad after all. He's as good as his word, anyhow."
"There's no tumblers," said the old man.
"O, don't let that trouble you, Jack," said Mr. Henchy. "Many's the good
man before now drank out of the bottle."
"Anyway, it's better than nothing," said Mr. O'Connor.
"He's not a bad sort," said Mr. Henchy, "only Fanning has such a loan of
him. He means well, you know, in his own tinpot way."
The boy came back with the corkscrew. The old man opened three bottles
and was handing back the corkscrew when Mr. Henchy said to the boy:
"Would you like a drink, boy?"
"If you please, sir," said the boy.
The old man opened another bottle grudgingly, and handed it to the boy.
"What age are you?" he asked.
"Seventeen," said the boy.
As the old man said nothing further, the boy took the bottle and said:
"Here's my best respects, sir," to Mr. Henchy, drank the contents, put
the bottle back on the table and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. Then
he took up the corkscrew and went out of the door sideways, muttering
some form of salutation.
"That's the way it begins," said the old man.
"The thin edge of the wedge," said Mr. Henchy.
The old man distributed the three bottles which he had opened and the
men drank from them simultaneously. After having drunk each placed his
bottle on the mantelpiece within hand's reach and drew in a long breath
"Well, I did a good day's work today," said Mr. Henchy, after a pause.
"That so, John?"
"Yes. I got him one or two sure things in Dawson Street, Crofton and
myself. Between ourselves, you know, Crofton (he's a decent chap, of
course), but he's not worth a damn as a canvasser. He hasn't a word
to throw to a dog. He stands and looks at the people while I do the
Here two men entered the room. One of them was a very fat man whose blue
serge clothes seemed to be in danger of falling from his sloping figure.
He had a big face which resembled a young ox's face in expression,
staring blue eyes and a grizzled moustache. The other man, who was much
younger and frailer, had a thin, clean-shaven face. He wore a very high
double collar and a wide-brimmed bowler hat.
"Hello, Crofton!" said Mr. Henchy to the fat man. "Talk of the devil..."
"Where did the boose come from?" asked the young man. "Did the cow
"O, of course, Lyons spots the drink first thing!" said Mr. O'Connor,
"Is that the way you chaps canvass," said Mr. Lyons, "and Crofton and I
out in the cold and rain looking for votes?"
"Why, blast your soul," said Mr. Henchy, "I'd get more votes in five
minutes than you two'd get in a week."
"Open two bottles of stout, Jack," said Mr. O'Connor.
"How can I?" said the old man, "when there's no corkscrew?"
"Wait now, wait now!" said Mr. Henchy, getting up quickly. "Did you ever
see this little trick?"
He took two bottles from the table and, carrying them to the fire, put
them on the hob. Then he sat down again by the fire and took another
drink from his bottle. Mr. Lyons sat on the edge of the table, pushed
his hat towards the nape of his neck and began to swing his legs.
"Which is my bottle?" he asked.
"This lad," said Mr. Henchy.
Mr. Crofton sat down on a box and looked fixedly at the other bottle on
the hob. He was silent for two reasons. The first reason, sufficient in
itself, was that he had nothing to say; the second reason was that
he considered his companions beneath him. He had been a canvasser for
Wilkins, the Conservative, but when the Conservatives had withdrawn
their man and, choosing the lesser of two evils, given their support to
the Nationalist candidate, he had been engaged to work for Mr. Tiemey.
In a few minutes an apologetic "Pok!" was heard as the cork flew out
of Mr. Lyons' bottle. Mr. Lyons jumped off the table, went to the fire,
took his bottle and carried it back to the table.
"I was just telling them, Crofton," said Mr. Henchy, "that we got a good
few votes today."
"Who did you get?" asked Mr. Lyons.
"Well, I got Parkes for one, and I got Atkinson for two, and got Ward
of Dawson Street. Fine old chap he is, too--regular old toff, old
Conservative! 'But isn't your candidate a Nationalist?' said he. 'He's a
respectable man,' said I. 'He's in favour of whatever will benefit this
country. He's a big ratepayer,' I said. 'He has extensive house property
in the city and three places of business and isn't it to his own
advantage to keep down the rates? He's a prominent and respected
citizen,' said I, 'and a Poor Law Guardian, and he doesn't belong to any
party, good, bad, or indifferent.' That's the way to talk to 'em."
"And what about the address to the King?" said Mr. Lyons, after drinking
and smacking his lips.
"Listen to me," said Mr. Henchy. "What we want in this country, as I
said to old Ward, is capital. The King's coming here will mean an influx
of money into this country. The citizens of Dublin will benefit by it.
Look at all the factories down by the quays there, idle! Look at all the
money there is in the country if we only worked the old industries, the
mills, the ship-building yards and factories. It's capital we want."
"But look here, John," said Mr. O'Connor. "Why should we welcome the
King of England? Didn't Parnell himself..."
"Parnell," said Mr. Henchy, "is dead. Now, here's the way I look at it.
Here's this chap come to the throne after his old mother keeping him out
of it till the man was grey. He's a man of the world, and he means
well by us. He's a jolly fine decent fellow, if you ask me, and no damn
nonsense about him. He just says to himself: 'The old one never went
to see these wild Irish. By Christ, I'll go myself and see what they're
like.' And are we going to insult the man when he comes over here on a
friendly visit? Eh? Isn't that right, Crofton?"
Mr. Crofton nodded his head.
"But after all now," said Mr. Lyons argumentatively, "King Edward's
life, you know, is not the very..."
"Let bygones be bygones," said Mr. Henchy. "I admire the man personally.
He's just an ordinary knockabout like you and me. He's fond of his glass
of grog and he's a bit of a rake, perhaps, and he's a good sportsman.
Damn it, can't we Irish play fair?"
"That's all very fine," said Mr. Lyons. "But look at the case of Parnell
"In the name of God," said Mr. Henchy, "where's the analogy between the
"What I mean," said Mr. Lyons, "is we have our ideals. Why, now, would
we welcome a man like that? Do you think now after what he did Parnell
was a fit man to lead us? And why, then, would we do it for Edward the
"This is Parnell's anniversary," said Mr. O'Connor, "and don't let
us stir up any bad blood. We all respect him now that he's dead and
gone--even the Conservatives," he added, turning to Mr. Crofton.
Pok! The tardy cork flew out of Mr. Crofton's bottle. Mr. Crofton got
up from his box and went to the fire. As he returned with his capture he
said in a deep voice:
"Our side of the house respects him, because he was a gentleman."
"Right you are, Crofton!" said Mr. Henchy fiercely. "He was the only man
that could keep that bag of cats in order. 'Down, ye dogs! Lie down, ye
curs!' That's the way he treated them. Come in, Joe! Come in!" he called
out, catching sight of Mr. Hynes in the doorway.
Mr. Hynes came in slowly.
"Open another bottle of stout, Jack," said Mr. Henchy. "O, I forgot
there's no corkscrew! Here, show me one here and I'll put it at the
The old man handed him another bottle and he placed it on the hob.
"Sit down, Joe," said Mr. O'Connor, "we're just talking about the
"Ay, ay!" said Mr. Henchy.
Mr. Hynes sat on the side of the table near Mr. Lyons but said nothing.
"There's one of them, anyhow," said Mr. Henchy, "that didn't renege him.
By God, I'll say for you, Joe! No, by God, you stuck to him like a man!"
"O, Joe," said Mr. O'Connor suddenly. "Give us that thing you wrote--do
you remember? Have you got it on you?"
"O, ay!" said Mr. Henchy. "Give us that. Did you ever hear that,
Crofton? Listen to this now: splendid thing."
"Go on," said Mr. O'Connor. "Fire away, Joe."
Mr. Hynes did not seem to remember at once the piece to which they were
alluding, but, after reflecting a while, he said:
"O, that thing is it.... Sure, that's old now."
"Out with it, man!" said Mr. O'Connor.
"'Sh, 'sh," said Mr. Henchy. "Now, Joe!"
Mr. Hynes hesitated a little longer. Then amid the silence he took off
his hat, laid it on the table and stood up. He seemed to be rehearsing
the piece in his mind. After a rather long pause he announced:
THE DEATH OF PARNELL
6th October, 1891
He cleared his throat once or twice and then began to recite:
He is dead. Our Uncrowned King is dead.
O, Erin, mourn with grief and woe
For he lies dead whom the fell gang
Of modern hypocrites laid low.
He lies slain by the coward hounds
He raised to glory from the mire;
And Erin's hopes and Erin's dreams
Perish upon her monarch's pyre.
In palace, cabin or in cot
The Irish heart where'er it be
Is bowed with woe--for he is gone
Who would have wrought her destiny.
He would have had his Erin famed,
The green flag gloriously unfurled,
Her statesmen, bards and warriors raised
Before the nations of the World.
He dreamed (alas, 'twas but a dream!)
Of Liberty: but as he strove
To clutch that idol, treachery
Sundered him from the thing he loved.
Shame on the coward, caitiff hands
That smote their Lord or with a kiss
Betrayed him to the rabble-rout
Of fawning priests--no friends of his.
May everlasting shame consume
The memory of those who tried
To befoul and smear the exalted name
Of one who spurned them in his pride.
He fell as fall the mighty ones,
Nobly undaunted to the last,
And death has now united him
With Erin's heroes of the past.
No sound of strife disturb his sleep!
Calmly he rests: no human pain
Or high ambition spurs him now
The peaks of glory to attain.
They had their way: they laid him low.
But Erin, list, his spirit may
Rise, like the Phoenix from the flames,
When breaks the dawning of the day,
The day that brings us Freedom's reign.
And on that day may Erin well
Pledge in the cup she lifts to Joy
One grief--the memory of Parnell.
Mr. Hynes sat down again on the table. When he had finished his
recitation there was a silence and then a burst of clapping: even Mr.
Lyons clapped. The applause continued for a little time. When it had
ceased all the auditors drank from their bottles in silence.
Pok! The cork flew out of Mr. Hynes' bottle, but Mr. Hynes remained
sitting flushed and bare-headed on the table. He did not seem to have
heard the invitation.
"Good man, Joe!" said Mr. O'Connor, taking out his cigarette papers and
pouch the better to hide his emotion.
"What do you think of that, Crofton?" cried Mr. Henchy. "Isn't that
Mr. Crofton said that it was a very fine piece of writing.
MR HOLOHAN, assistant secretary of the Eire Abu Society, had been
walking up and down Dublin for nearly a month, with his hands and
pockets full of dirty pieces of paper, arranging about the series of
concerts. He had a game leg and for this his friends called him Hoppy
Holohan. He walked up and down constantly, stood by the hour at street
corners arguing the point and made notes; but in the end it was Mrs.
Kearney who arranged everything.
Miss Devlin had become Mrs. Kearney out of spite. She had been educated
in a high-class convent, where she had learned French and music. As
she was naturally pale and unbending in manner she made few friends at
school. When she came to the age of marriage she was sent out to many
houses where her playing and ivory manners were much admired. She sat
amid the chilly circle of her accomplishments, waiting for some suitor
to brave it and offer her a brilliant life. But the young men whom she
met were ordinary and she gave them no encouragement, trying to console
her romantic desires by eating a great deal of Turkish Delight in
secret. However, when she drew near the limit and her friends began
to loosen their tongues about her, she silenced them by marrying Mr.
Kearney, who was a bootmaker on Ormond Quay.
He was much older than she. His conversation, which was serious, took
place at intervals in his great brown beard. After the first year of
married life, Mrs. Kearney perceived that such a man would wear better
than a romantic person, but she never put her own romantic ideas away.
He was sober, thrifty and pious; he went to the altar every first
Friday, sometimes with her, oftener by himself. But she never weakened
in her religion and was a good wife to him. At some party in a strange
house when she lifted her eyebrow ever so slightly he stood up to take
his leave and, when his cough troubled him, she put the eider-down quilt
over his feet and made a strong rum punch. For his part, he was a model
father. By paying a small sum every week into a society, he ensured for
both his daughters a dowry of one hundred pounds each when they came to
the age of twenty-four. He sent the older daughter, Kathleen, to a good
convent, where she learned French and music, and afterward paid her
fees at the Academy. Every year in the month of July Mrs. Kearney found
occasion to say to some friend:
"My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks."
If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones.
When the Irish Revival began to be appreciable Mrs. Kearney determined
to take advantage of her daughter's name and brought an Irish teacher to
the house. Kathleen and her sister sent Irish picture postcards to their
friends and these friends sent back other Irish picture postcards.
On special Sundays, when Mr. Kearney went with his family to the
pro-cathedral, a little crowd of people would assemble after mass at
the corner of Cathedral Street. They were all friends of the
Kearneys--musical friends or Nationalist friends; and, when they had
played every little counter of gossip, they shook hands with one
another all together, laughing at the crossing of so many hands, and said
good-bye to one another in Irish. Soon the name of Miss Kathleen Kearney
began to be heard often on people's lips. People said that she was
very clever at music and a very nice girl and, moreover, that she was
a believer in the language movement. Mrs. Kearney was well content at
this. Therefore she was not surprised when one day Mr. Holohan came to
her and proposed that her daughter should be the accompanist at a
series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give in the
Antient Concert Rooms. She brought him into the drawing-room, made him
sit down and brought out the decanter and the silver biscuit-barrel. She
entered heart and soul into the details of the enterprise, advised and
dissuaded: and finally a contract was drawn up by which Kathleen was to
receive eight guineas for her services as accompanist at the four grand
As Mr. Holohan was a novice in such delicate matters as the wording of
bills and the disposing of items for a programme, Mrs. Kearney helped
him. She had tact. She knew what artistes should go into capitals and
what artistes should go into small type. She knew that the first tenor
would not like to come on after Mr. Meade's comic turn. To keep the
audience continually diverted she slipped the doubtful items in between
the old favourites. Mr. Holohan called to see her every day to have her
advice on some point. She was invariably friendly and advising--homely,
in fact. She pushed the decanter towards him, saying:
"Now, help yourself, Mr. Holohan!"
And while he was helping himself she said:
"Don't be afraid! Don't be afraid of it!"
Everything went on smoothly. Mrs. Kearney bought some lovely blush-pink
charmeuse in Brown Thomas's to let into the front of Kathleen's dress.
It cost a pretty penny; but there are occasions when a little expense
is justifiable. She took a dozen of two-shilling tickets for the final
concert and sent them to those friends who could not be trusted to come
otherwise. She forgot nothing, and, thanks to her, everything that was
to be done was done.
The concerts were to be on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
When Mrs. Kearney arrived with her daughter at the Antient Concert Rooms
on Wednesday night she did not like the look of things. A few young men,
wearing bright blue badges in their coats, stood idle in the vestibule;
none of them wore evening dress. She passed by with her daughter and a
quick glance through the open door of the hall showed her the cause of
the stewards' idleness. At first she wondered had she mistaken the hour.
No, it was twenty minutes to eight.
In the dressing-room behind the stage she was introduced to the
secretary of the Society, Mr. Fitzpatrick. She smiled and shook his
hand. He was a little man, with a white, vacant face. She noticed that
he wore his soft brown hat carelessly on the side of his head and that
his accent was flat. He held a programme in his hand, and, while he was
talking to her, he chewed one end of it into a moist pulp. He seemed
to bear disappointments lightly. Mr. Holohan came into the dressingroom
every few minutes with reports from the box-office. The artistes talked
among themselves nervously, glanced from time to time at the mirror and
rolled and unrolled their music. When it was nearly half-past eight, the
few people in the hall began to express their desire to be entertained.
Mr. Fitzpatrick came in, smiled vacantly at the room, and said:
"Well now, ladies and gentlemen. I suppose we'd better open the ball."
Mrs. Kearney rewarded his very flat final syllable with a quick stare of
contempt, and then said to her daughter encouragingly:
"Are you ready, dear?"
When she had an opportunity, she called Mr. Holohan aside and asked him
to tell her what it meant. Mr. Holohan did not know what it meant.
He said that the Committee had made a mistake in arranging for four
concerts: four was too many.
"And the artistes!" said Mrs. Kearney. "Of course they are doing their
best, but really they are not good."
Mr. Holohan admitted that the artistes were no good but the Committee,
he said, had decided to let the first three concerts go as they pleased
and reserve all the talent for Saturday night. Mrs. Kearney said
nothing, but, as the mediocre items followed one another on the platform
and the few people in the hall grew fewer and fewer, she began to regret
that she had put herself to any expense for such a concert. There was
something she didn't like in the look of things and Mr. Fitzpatrick's
vacant smile irritated her very much. However, she said nothing and
waited to see how it would end. The concert expired shortly before ten,
and everyone went home quickly.
The concert on Thursday night was better attended, but Mrs. Kearney
saw at once that the house was filled with paper. The audience behaved
indecorously, as if the concert were an informal dress rehearsal. Mr.
Fitzpatrick seemed to enjoy himself; he was quite unconscious that Mrs.
Kearney was taking angry note of his conduct. He stood at the edge of
the screen, from time to time jutting out his head and exchanging a
laugh with two friends in the corner of the balcony. In the course of
the evening, Mrs. Kearney learned that the Friday concert was to be
abandoned and that the Committee was going to move heaven and earth to
secure a bumper house on Saturday night. When she heard this, she sought
out Mr. Holohan. She buttonholed him as he was limping out quickly with
a glass of lemonade for a young lady and asked him was it true. Yes, it
"But, of course, that doesn't alter the contract," she said. "The
contract was for four concerts."
Mr. Holohan seemed to be in a hurry; he advised her to speak to Mr.
Fitzpatrick. Mrs. Kearney was now beginning to be alarmed. She called
Mr. Fitzpatrick away from his screen and told him that her daughter had
signed for four concerts and that, of course, according to the terms
of the contract, she should receive the sum originally stipulated for,
whether the society gave the four concerts or not. Mr. Fitzpatrick, who
did not catch the point at issue very quickly, seemed unable to resolve
the difficulty and said that he would bring the matter before the
Committee. Mrs. Kearney's anger began to flutter in her cheek and she
had all she could do to keep from asking:
"And who is the Cometty pray?"
But she knew that it would not be ladylike to do that: so she was
Little boys were sent out into the principal streets of Dublin early on
Friday morning with bundles of handbills. Special puffs appeared in all
the evening papers, reminding the music-loving public of the treat which
was in store for it on the following evening. Mrs. Kearney was
somewhat reassured, but she thought well to tell her husband part of
her suspicions. He listened carefully and said that perhaps it would be
better if he went with her on Saturday night. She agreed. She respected
her husband in the same way as she respected the General Post Office, as
something large, secure and fixed; and though she knew the small number
of his talents she appreciated his abstract value as a male. She was
glad that he had suggested coming with her. She thought her plans over.
The night of the grand concert came. Mrs. Kearney, with her husband and
daughter, arrived at the Antient Concert Rooms three-quarters of an hour
before the time at which the concert was to begin. By ill luck it was a
rainy evening. Mrs. Kearney placed her daughter's clothes and music in
charge of her husband and went all over the building looking for Mr.
Holohan or Mr. Fitzpatrick. She could find neither. She asked the
stewards was any member of the Committee in the hall and, after a great
deal of trouble, a steward brought out a little woman named Miss
Beirne to whom Mrs. Kearney explained that she wanted to see one of the
secretaries. Miss Beirne expected them any minute and asked could she do
anything. Mrs. Kearney looked searchingly at the oldish face which was
screwed into an expression of trustfulness and enthusiasm and answered:
"No, thank you!"
The little woman hoped they would have a good house. She looked out
at the rain until the melancholy of the wet street effaced all the
trustfulness and enthusiasm from her twisted features. Then she gave a
little sigh and said:
"Ah, well! We did our best, the dear knows."
Mrs. Kearney had to go back to the dressing-room.
The artistes were arriving. The bass and the second tenor had already
come. The bass, Mr. Duggan, was a slender young man with a scattered
black moustache. He was the son of a hall porter in an office in the
city and, as a boy, he had sung prolonged bass notes in the resounding
hall. From this humble state he had raised himself until he had become
a first-rate artiste. He had appeared in grand opera. One night, when an
operatic artiste had fallen ill, he had undertaken the part of the king
in the opera of Maritana at the Queen's Theatre. He sang his music with
great feeling and volume and was warmly welcomed by the gallery; but,
unfortunately, he marred the good impression by wiping his nose in his
gloved hand once or twice out of thoughtlessness. He was unassuming and
spoke little. He said yous so softly that it passed unnoticed and he
never drank anything stronger than milk for his voice's sake. Mr. Bell,
the second tenor, was a fair-haired little man who competed every year
for prizes at the Feis Ceoil. On his fourth trial he had been awarded
a bronze medal. He was extremely nervous and extremely jealous of
other tenors and he covered his nervous jealousy with an ebullient
friendliness. It was his humour to have people know what an ordeal a
concert was to him. Therefore when he saw Mr. Duggan he went over to him
"Are you in it too?"
"Yes," said Mr. Duggan.
Mr. Bell laughed at his fellow-sufferer, held out his hand and said:
Mrs. Kearney passed by these two young men and went to the edge of the
screen to view the house. The seats were being filled up rapidly and a
pleasant noise circulated in the auditorium. She came back and spoke to
her husband privately. Their conversation was evidently about Kathleen
for they both glanced at her often as she stood chatting to one of her
Nationalist friends, Miss Healy, the contralto. An unknown solitary
woman with a pale face walked through the room. The women followed with
keen eyes the faded blue dress which was stretched upon a meagre body.
Someone said that she was Madam Glynn, the soprano.
"I wonder where did they dig her up," said Kathleen to Miss Healy. "I'm
sure I never heard of her."
Miss Healy had to smile. Mr. Holohan limped into the dressing-room
at that moment and the two young ladies asked him who was the unknown
woman. Mr. Holohan said that she was Madam Glynn from London. Madam
Glynn took her stand in a corner of the room, holding a roll of music
stiffly before her and from time to time changing the direction of her
startled gaze. The shadow took her faded dress into shelter but fell
revengefully into the little cup behind her collar-bone. The noise of
the hall became more audible. The first tenor and the baritone arrived
together. They were both well dressed, stout and complacent and they
brought a breath of opulence among the company.
Mrs. Kearney brought her daughter over to them, and talked to them
amiably. She wanted to be on good terms with them but, while she strove
to be polite, her eyes followed Mr. Holohan in his limping and devious
courses. As soon as she could she excused herself and went out after
"Mr. Holohan, I want to speak to you for a moment," she said.
They went down to a discreet part of the corridor. Mrs Kearney asked
him when was her daughter going to be paid. Mr. Holohan said that Mr.
Fitzpatrick had charge of that. Mrs. Kearney said that she didn't know
anything about Mr. Fitzpatrick. Her daughter had signed a contract for
eight guineas and she would have to be paid. Mr. Holohan said that it
wasn't his business.
"Why isn't it your business?" asked Mrs. Kearney. "Didn't you yourself
bring her the contract? Anyway, if it's not your business it's my
business and I mean to see to it."
"You'd better speak to Mr. Fitzpatrick," said Mr. Holohan distantly.
"I don't know anything about Mr. Fitzpatrick," repeated Mrs. Kearney. "I
have my contract, and I intend to see that it is carried out."
When she came back to the dressing-room her cheeks were slightly
suffused. The room was lively. Two men in outdoor dress had taken
possession of the fireplace and were chatting familiarly with Miss Healy
and the baritone. They were the Freeman man and Mr. O'Madden Burke. The
Freeman man had come in to say that he could not wait for the concert as
he had to report the lecture which an American priest was giving in
the Mansion House. He said they were to leave the report for him at the
Freeman office and he would see that it went in. He was a grey-haired
man, with a plausible voice and careful manners. He held an extinguished
cigar in his hand and the aroma of cigar smoke floated near him. He had
not intended to stay a moment because concerts and artistes bored him
considerably but he remained leaning against the mantelpiece. Miss
Healy stood in front of him, talking and laughing. He was old enough to
suspect one reason for her politeness but young enough in spirit to
turn the moment to account. The warmth, fragrance and colour of her body
appealed to his senses. He was pleasantly conscious that the bosom which
he saw rise and fall slowly beneath him rose and fell at that moment
for him, that the laughter and fragrance and wilful glances were his
tribute. When he could stay no longer he took leave of her regretfully.
"O'Madden Burke will write the notice," he explained to Mr. Holohan,
"and I'll see it in."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Hendrick," said Mr. Holohan, "you'll see it
in, I know. Now, won't you have a little something before you go?"
"I don't mind," said Mr. Hendrick.
The two men went along some tortuous passages and up a dark staircase
and came to a secluded room where one of the stewards was uncorking
bottles for a few gentlemen. One of these gentlemen was Mr. O'Madden
Burke, who had found out the room by instinct. He was a suave, elderly
man who balanced his imposing body, when at rest, upon a large silk
umbrella. His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon
which he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely
While Mr. Holohan was entertaining the Freeman man Mrs. Kearney was
speaking so animatedly to her husband that he had to ask her to lower
her voice. The conversation of the others in the dressing-room had
become strained. Mr. Bell, the first item, stood ready with his music
but the accompanist made no sign. Evidently something was wrong. Mr.
Kearney looked straight before him, stroking his beard, while Mrs.
Kearney spoke into Kathleen's ear with subdued emphasis. From the hall
came sounds of encouragement, clapping and stamping of feet. The
first tenor and the baritone and Miss Healy stood together, waiting
tranquilly, but Mr. Bell's nerves were greatly agitated because he was
afraid the audience would think that he had come late.
Mr. Holohan and Mr. O'Madden Burke came into the room. In a moment Mr.
Holohan perceived the hush. He went over to Mrs. Kearney and spoke
with her earnestly. While they were speaking the noise in the hall grew
louder. Mr. Holohan became very red and excited. He spoke volubly, but
Mrs. Kearney said curtly at intervals:
"She won't go on. She must get her eight guineas."
Mr. Holohan pointed desperately towards the hall where the audience was
clapping and stamping. He appealed to Mr Kearney and to Kathleen. But
Mr. Kearney continued to stroke his beard and Kathleen looked down,
moving the point of her new shoe: it was not her fault. Mrs. Kearney
"She won't go on without her money."
After a swift struggle of tongues Mr. Holohan hobbled out in haste.
The room was silent. When the strain of the silence had become somewhat
painful Miss Healy said to the baritone:
"Have you seen Mrs. Pat Campbell this week?"
The baritone had not seen her but he had been told that she was very
fine. The conversation went no further. The first tenor bent his head
and began to count the links of the gold chain which was extended across
his waist, smiling and humming random notes to observe the effect on the
frontal sinus. From time to time everyone glanced at Mrs. Kearney.
The noise in the auditorium had risen to a clamour when Mr. Fitzpatrick
burst into the room, followed by Mr. Holohan, who was panting. The
clapping and stamping in the hall were punctuated by whistling. Mr.
Fitzpatrick held a few banknotes in his hand. He counted out four
into Mrs. Kearney's hand and said she would get the other half at the
interval. Mrs. Kearney said:
"This is four shillings short."
But Kathleen gathered in her skirt and said: "Now, Mr. Bell," to
the first item, who was shaking like an aspen. The singer and the
accompanist went out together. The noise in hall died away. There was a
pause of a few seconds: and then the piano was heard.
The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam
Glynn's item. The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping voice,
with all the old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation
which she believed lent elegance to her singing. She looked as if she
had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts
of the hall made fun of her high wailing notes. The first tenor and the
contralto, however, brought down the house. Kathleen played a selection
of Irish airs which was generously applauded. The first part closed with
a stirring patriotic recitation delivered by a young lady who arranged
amateur theatricals. It was deservedly applauded; and, when it was
ended, the men went out for the interval, content.
All this time the dressing-room was a hive of excitement. In one corner
were Mr. Holohan, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Miss Beirne, two of the stewards, the
baritone, the bass, and Mr. O'Madden Burke. Mr. O'Madden Burke said it
was the most scandalous exhibition he had ever witnessed. Miss Kathleen
Kearney's musical career was ended in Dublin after that, he said. The
baritone was asked what did he think of Mrs. Kearney's conduct. He did
not like to say anything. He had been paid his money and wished to be at
peace with men. However, he said that Mrs. Kearney might have taken the
artistes into consideration. The stewards and the secretaries debated
hotly as to what should be done when the interval came.
"I agree with Miss Beirne," said Mr. O'Madden Burke. "Pay her nothing."
In another corner of the room were Mrs. Kearney and her husband, Mr.
Bell, Miss Healy and the young lady who had to recite the patriotic
piece. Mrs. Kearney said that the Committee had treated her
scandalously. She had spared neither trouble nor expense and this was
how she was repaid.
They thought they had only a girl to deal with and that, therefore, they
could ride roughshod over her. But she would show them their mistake.
They wouldn't have dared to have treated her like that if she had been a
man. But she would see that her daughter got her rights: she wouldn't
be fooled. If they didn't pay her to the last farthing she would make
Dublin ring. Of course she was sorry for the sake of the artistes. But
what else could she do? She appealed to the second tenor who said he
thought she had not been well treated. Then she appealed to Miss Healy.
Miss Healy wanted to join the other group but she did not like to do so
because she was a great friend of Kathleen's and the Kearneys had often
invited her to their house.
As soon as the first part was ended Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Holohan went
over to Mrs. Kearney and told her that the other four guineas would be
paid after the Committee meeting on the following Tuesday and that, in
case her daughter did not play for the second part, the Committee would
consider the contract broken and would pay nothing.
"I haven't seen any Committee," said Mrs. Kearney angrily. "My daughter
has her contract. She will get four pounds eight into her hand or a foot
she won't put on that platform."
"I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Kearney," said Mr. Holohan. "I never thought
you would treat us this way."
"And what way did you treat me?" asked Mrs. Kearney.
Her face was inundated with an angry colour and she looked as if she
would attack someone with her hands.
"I'm asking for my rights." she said.
"You might have some sense of decency," said Mr. Holohan.
"Might I, indeed?... And when I ask when my daughter is going to be paid
I can't get a civil answer."
She tossed her head and assumed a haughty voice:
"You must speak to the secretary. It's not my business. I'm a great
"I thought you were a lady," said Mr. Holohan, walking away from her
After that Mrs. Kearney's conduct was condemned on all hands: everyone
approved of what the Committee had done. She stood at the door, haggard
with rage, arguing with her husband and daughter, gesticulating with
them. She waited until it was time for the second part to begin in the
hope that the secretaries would approach her. But Miss Healy had kindly
consented to play one or two accompaniments. Mrs. Kearney had to stand
aside to allow the baritone and his accompanist to pass up to the
platform. She stood still for an instant like an angry stone image
and, when the first notes of the song struck her ear, she caught up her
daughter's cloak and said to her husband:
"Get a cab!"
He went out at once. Mrs. Kearney wrapped the cloak round her daughter
and followed him. As she passed through the doorway she stopped and
glared into Mr. Holohan's face.
"I'm not done with you yet," she said.
"But I'm done with you," said Mr. Holohan.
Kathleen followed her mother meekly. Mr. Holohan began to pace up and
down the room, in order to cool himself for he his skin on fire.
"That's a nice lady!" he said. "O, she's a nice lady!"
"You did the proper thing, Holohan," said Mr. O'Madden Burke, poised
upon his umbrella in approval.
TWO GENTLEMEN who were in the lavatory at the time tried to lift him up:
but he was quite helpless. He lay curled up at the foot of the stairs
down which he had fallen. They succeeded in turning him over. His hat
had rolled a few yards away and his clothes were smeared with the filth
and ooze of the floor on which he had lain, face downwards. His eyes
were closed and he breathed with a grunting noise. A thin stream of
blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.
These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the stairs
and laid him down again on the floor of the bar. In two minutes he was
surrounded by a ring of men. The manager of the bar asked everyone
who he was and who was with him. No one knew who he was but one of the
curates said he had served the gentleman with a small rum.
"Was he by himself?" asked the manager.
"No, sir. There was two gentlemen with him."
"And where are they?"
No one knew; a voice said:
"Give him air. He's fainted."
The ring of onlookers distended and closed again elastically. A dark
medal of blood had formed itself near the man's head on the tessellated
floor. The manager, alarmed by the grey pallor of the man's face, sent
for a policeman.
His collar was unfastened and his necktie undone. He opened eyes for an
instant, sighed and closed them again. One of gentlemen who had carried
him upstairs held a dinged silk hat in his hand. The manager asked
repeatedly did no one know who the injured man was or where had his
friends gone. The door of the bar opened and an immense constable
entered. A crowd which had followed him down the laneway collected
outside the door, struggling to look in through the glass panels.
The manager at once began to narrate what he knew. The constable, a young
man with thick immobile features, listened. He moved his head slowly to
right and left and from the manager to the person on the floor, as if
he feared to be the victim of some delusion. Then he drew off his glove,
produced a small book from his waist, licked the lead of his pencil and
made ready to indite. He asked in a suspicious provincial accent:
"Who is the man? What's his name and address?"
A young man in a cycling-suit cleared his way through the ring of
bystanders. He knelt down promptly beside the injured man and called for
water. The constable knelt down also to help. The young man washed the
blood from the injured man's mouth and then called for some brandy. The
constable repeated the order in an authoritative voice until a curate
came running with the glass. The brandy was forced down the man's
throat. In a few seconds he opened his eyes and looked about him. He
looked at the circle of faces and then, understanding, strove to rise to
"You're all right now?" asked the young man in the cycling-suit.
"Sha,'s nothing," said the injured man, trying to stand up.
He was helped to his feet. The manager said something about a hospital
and some of the bystanders gave advice. The battered silk hat was placed
on the man's head. The constable asked:
"Where do you live?"
The man, without answering, began to twirl the ends of his moustache.
He made light of his accident. It was nothing, he said: only a little
accident. He spoke very thickly.
"Where do you live?" repeated the constable.
The man said they were to get a cab for him. While the point was being
debated a tall agile gentleman of fair complexion, wearing a long yellow
ulster, came from the far end of the bar. Seeing the spectacle, he
"Hallo, Tom, old man! What's the trouble?"
"Sha,'s nothing," said the man.
The new-comer surveyed the deplorable figure before him and then turned
to the constable, saying:
"It's all right, constable. I'll see him home."
The constable touched his helmet and answered:
"All right, Mr. Power!"
"Come now, Tom," said Mr. Power, taking his friend by the arm. "No bones
broken. What? Can you walk?"
The young man in the cycling-suit took the man by the other arm and the
"How did you get yourself into this mess?" asked Mr. Power.
"The gentleman fell down the stairs," said the young man.
"I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir," said the injured man.
"Not at all."
"'ant we have a little...?"
"Not now. Not now."
The three men left the bar and the crowd sifted through the doors in to
the laneway. The manager brought the constable to the stairs to inspect
the scene of the accident. They agreed that the gentleman must have
missed his footing. The customers returned to the counter and a curate
set about removing the traces of blood from the floor.
When they came out into Grafton Street, Mr. Power whistled for an
outsider. The injured man said again as well as he could.
"I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir. I hope we'll 'eet again. 'y na'e is
The shock and the incipient pain had partly sobered him.
"Don't mention it," said the young man.
They shook hands. Mr. Kernan was hoisted on to the car and, while Mr.
Power was giving directions to the carman, he expressed his gratitude
to the young man and regretted that they could not have a little drink
"Another time," said the young man.
The car drove off towards Westmoreland Street. As it passed Ballast
Office the clock showed half-past nine. A keen east wind hit them,
blowing from the mouth of the river. Mr. Kernan was huddled together
with cold. His friend asked him to tell how the accident had happened.
"I'an't 'an," he answered, "'y 'ongue is hurt."
The other leaned over the well of the car and peered into Mr. Kernan's
mouth but he could not see. He struck a match and, sheltering it in the
shell of his hands, peered again into the mouth which Mr. Kernan opened
obediently. The swaying movement of the car brought the match to and
from the opened mouth. The lower teeth and gums were covered with
clotted blood and a minute piece of the tongue seemed to have been
bitten off. The match was blown out.
"That's ugly," said Mr. Power.
"Sha, 's nothing," said Mr. Kernan, closing his mouth and pulling the
collar of his filthy coat across his neck.
Mr. Kernan was a commercial traveller of the old school which believed
in the dignity of its calling. He had never been seen in the city
without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters. By grace of
these two articles of clothing, he said, a man could always pass muster.
He carried on the tradition of his Napoleon, the great Blackwhite, whose
memory he evoked at times by legend and mimicry. Modern business methods
had spared him only so far as to allow him a little office in Crowe
Street, on the window blind of which was written the name of his firm
with the address--London, E. C. On the mantelpiece of this little office
a little leaden battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table
before the window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half
full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea. He took
a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then spat it
forth into the grate. Then he paused to judge.
Mr. Power, a much younger man, was employed in the Royal Irish
Constabulary Office in Dublin Castle. The arc of his social rise
intersected the arc of his friend's decline, but Mr. Kernan's decline
was mitigated by the fact that certain of those friends who had known
him at his highest point of success still esteemed him as a character.
Mr. Power was one of these friends. His inexplicable debts were a byword
in his circle; he was a debonair young man.
The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr. Kernan
was helped into the house. His wife put him to bed while Mr. Power sat
downstairs in the kitchen asking the children where they went to school
and what book they were in. The children--two girls and a boy, conscious
of their father's helplessness and of their mother's absence, began some
horseplay with him. He was surprised at their manners and at their
accents, and his brow grew thoughtful. After a while Mrs. Kernan entered
the kitchen, exclaiming:
"Such a sight! O, he'll do for himself one day and that's the holy alls
of it. He's been drinking since Friday."
Mr. Power was careful to explain to her that he was not responsible,
that he had come on the scene by the merest accident. Mrs. Kernan,
remembering Mr. Power's good offices during domestic quarrels, as well
as many small, but opportune loans, said:
"O, you needn't tell me that, Mr. Power. I know you're a friend of his,
not like some of the others he does be with. They're all right so long
as he has money in his pocket to keep him out from his wife and family.
Nice friends! Who was he with tonight, I'd like to know?"
Mr. Power shook his head but said nothing.
"I'm so sorry," she continued, "that I've nothing in the house to offer
you. But if you wait a minute I'll send round to Fogarty's at the
Mr. Power stood up.
"We were waiting for him to come home with the money. He never seems to
think he has a home at all."
"O, now, Mrs. Kernan," said Mr. Power, "we'll make him turn over a new
leaf. I'll talk to Martin. He's the man. We'll come here one of these
nights and talk it over."
She saw him to the door. The carman was stamping up and down the
footpath, and swinging his arms to warm himself.
"It's very kind of you to bring him home," she said.
"Not at all," said Mr. Power.
He got up on the car. As it drove off he raised his hat to her gaily.
"We'll make a new man of him," he said. "Good-night, Mrs. Kernan."
* * * * *
Mrs. Kernan's puzzled eyes watched the car till it was out of sight.
Then she withdrew them, went into the house and emptied her husband's
She was an active, practical woman of middle age. Not long before she
had celebrated her silver wedding and renewed her intimacy with her
husband by waltzing with him to Mr. Power's accompaniment. In her days
of courtship, Mr. Kernan had seemed to her a not ungallant figure: and
she still hurried to the chapel door whenever a wedding was reported
and, seeing the bridal pair, recalled with vivid pleasure how she had
passed out of the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount, leaning on the
arm of a jovial well-fed man, who was dressed smartly in a frock-coat
and lavender trousers and carried a silk hat gracefully balanced upon
his other arm. After three weeks she had found a wife's life irksome
and, later on, when she was beginning to find it unbearable, she had
become a mother. The part of mother presented to her no insuperable
difficulties and for twenty-five years she had kept house shrewdly for
her husband. Her two eldest sons were launched. One was in a draper's
shop in Glasgow and the other was clerk to a tea-merchant in Belfast.
They were good sons, wrote regularly and sometimes sent home money. The
other children were still at school.
Mr. Kernan sent a letter to his office next day and remained in bed. She
made beef-tea for him and scolded him roundly. She accepted his frequent
intemperance as part of the climate, healed him dutifully whenever he
was sick and always tried to make him eat a breakfast. There were worse
husbands. He had never been violent since the boys had grown up, and she
knew that he would walk to the end of Thomas Street and back again to
book even a small order.
Two nights after, his friends came to see him. She brought them up to
his bedroom, the air of which was impregnated with a personal odour,
and gave them chairs at the fire. Mr. Kernan's tongue, the occasional
stinging pain of which had made him somewhat irritable during the day,
became more polite. He sat propped up in the bed by pillows and the
little colour in his puffy cheeks made them resemble warm cinders. He
apologised to his guests for the disorder of the room, but at the same
time looked at them a little proudly, with a veteran's pride.
He was quite unconscious that he was the victim of a plot which his
friends, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. M'Coy and Mr. Power had disclosed to Mrs.
Kernan in the parlour. The idea had been Mr. Power's, but its development
was entrusted to Mr. Cunningham. Mr. Kernan came of Protestant stock
and, though he had been converted to the Catholic faith at the time
of his marriage, he had not been in the pale of the Church for twenty
years. He was fond, moreover, of giving side-thrusts at Catholicism.
Mr. Cunningham was the very man for such a case. He was an elder
colleague of Mr. Power. His own domestic life was not very happy. People
had great sympathy with him, for it was known that he had married an
unpresentable woman who was an incurable drunkard. He had set up house
for her six times; and each time she had pawned the furniture on him.
Everyone had respect for poor Martin Cunningham. He was a thoroughly
sensible man, influential and intelligent. His blade of human knowledge,
natural astuteness particularised by long association with cases in the
police courts, had been tempered by brief immersions in the waters
of general philosophy. He was well informed. His friends bowed to his
opinions and considered that his face was like Shakespeare's.
When the plot had been disclosed to her, Mrs. Kernan had said:
"I leave it all in your hands, Mr. Cunningham."
After a quarter of a century of married life, she had very few illusions
left. Religion for her was a habit, and she suspected that a man of her
husband's age would not change greatly before death. She was tempted to
see a curious appropriateness in his accident and, but that she did
not wish to seem bloody-minded, would have told the gentlemen that
Mr. Kernan's tongue would not suffer by being shortened. However, Mr.
Cunningham was a capable man; and religion was religion. The scheme
might do good and, at least, it could do no harm. Her beliefs were
not extravagant. She believed steadily in the Sacred Heart as the
most generally useful of all Catholic devotions and approved of the
sacraments. Her faith was bounded by her kitchen, but, if she was put to
it, she could believe also in the banshee and in the Holy Ghost.
The gentlemen began to talk of the accident. Mr. Cunningham said that he
had once known a similar case. A man of seventy had bitten off a piece
of his tongue during an epileptic fit and the tongue had filled in
again, so that no one could see a trace of the bite.
"Well, I'm not seventy," said the invalid.
"God forbid," said Mr. Cunningham.
"It doesn't pain you now?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
Mr. M'Coy had been at one time a tenor of some reputation. His wife, who
had been a soprano, still taught young children to play the piano at low
terms. His line of life had not been the shortest distance between two
points and for short periods he had been driven to live by his wits. He
had been a clerk in the Midland Railway, a canvasser for advertisements
for The Irish Times and for The Freeman's Journal, a town traveller
for a coal firm on commission, a private inquiry agent, a clerk in the
office of the Sub-Sheriff, and he had recently become secretary to the
City Coroner. His new office made him professionally interested in Mr.
"Pain? Not much," answered Mr. Kernan. "But it's so sickening. I feel as
if I wanted to retch off."
"That's the boose," said Mr. Cunningham firmly.
"No," said Mr. Kernan. "I think I caught a cold on the car. There's
something keeps coming into my throat, phlegm or----"
"Mucus." said Mr. M'Coy.
"It keeps coming like from down in my throat; sickening."
"Yes, yes," said Mr. M'Coy, "that's the thorax."
He looked at Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Power at the same time with an air
of challenge. Mr. Cunningham nodded his head rapidly and Mr. Power said:
"Ah, well, all's well that ends well."
"I'm very much obliged to you, old man," said the invalid.
Mr. Power waved his hand.
"Those other two fellows I was with----"
"Who were you with?" asked Mr. Cunningham.
"A chap. I don't know his name. Damn it now, what's his name? Little
chap with sandy hair...."
"And who else?"
"Hm," said Mr. Cunningham.
When Mr. Cunningham made that remark, people were silent. It was known
that the speaker had secret sources of information. In this case the
monosyllable had a moral intention. Mr. Harford sometimes formed one
of a little detachment which left the city shortly after noon on Sunday
with the purpose of arriving as soon as possible at some public-house on
the outskirts of the city where its members duly qualified themselves as
bona fide travellers. But his fellow-travellers had never consented
to overlook his origin. He had begun life as an obscure financier by
lending small sums of money to workmen at usurious interest. Later on he
had become the partner of a very fat, short gentleman, Mr. Goldberg, in
the Liffey Loan Bank. Though he had never embraced more than the Jewish
ethical code, his fellow-Catholics, whenever they had smarted in person
or by proxy under his exactions, spoke of him bitterly as an Irish Jew
and an illiterate, and saw divine disapproval of usury made manifest
through the person of his idiot son. At other times they remembered his
"I wonder where did he go to," said Mr. Kernan.
He wished the details of the incident to remain vague. He wished his
friends to think there had been some mistake, that Mr. Harford and he
had missed each other. His friends, who knew quite well Mr. Harford's
manners in drinking were silent. Mr. Power said again:
"All's well that ends well."
Mr. Kernan changed the subject at once.
"That was a decent young chap, that medical fellow," he said. "Only for
"O, only for him," said Mr. Power, "it might have been a case of seven
days, without the option of a fine."
"Yes, yes," said Mr. Kernan, trying to remember. "I remember now there
was a policeman. Decent young fellow, he seemed. How did it happen at
"It happened that you were peloothered, Tom," said Mr. Cunningham
"True bill," said Mr. Kernan, equally gravely.
"I suppose you squared the constable, Jack," said Mr. M'Coy.
Mr. Power did not relish the use of his Christian name. He was not
straight-laced, but he could not forget that Mr. M'Coy had recently made
a crusade in search of valises and portmanteaus to enable Mrs. M'Coy to
fulfil imaginary engagements in the country. More than he resented the
fact that he had been victimised he resented such low playing of the
game. He answered the question, therefore, as if Mr. Kernan had asked
The narrative made Mr. Kernan indignant. He was keenly conscious of his
citizenship, wished to live with his city on terms mutually honourable
and resented any affront put upon him by those whom he called country
"Is this what we pay rates for?" he asked. "To feed and clothe these
ignorant bostooms... and they're nothing else."
Mr. Cunningham laughed. He was a Castle official only during office
"How could they be anything else, Tom?" he said.
He assumed a thick, provincial accent and said in a tone of command:
"65, catch your cabbage!"
Everyone laughed. Mr. M'Coy, who wanted to enter the conversation by any
door, pretended that he had never heard the story. Mr. Cunningham said:
"It is supposed--they say, you know--to take place in the depot where
they get these thundering big country fellows, omadhauns, you know, to
drill. The sergeant makes them stand in a row against the wall and hold
up their plates."
He illustrated the story by grotesque gestures.
"At dinner, you know. Then he has a bloody big bowl of cabbage before
him on the table and a bloody big spoon like a shovel. He takes up a wad
of cabbage on the spoon and pegs it across the room and the poor devils
have to try and catch it on their plates: 65, catch your cabbage."
Everyone laughed again: but Mr. Kernan was somewhat indignant still. He
talked of writing a letter to the papers.
"These yahoos coming up here," he said, "think they can boss the people.
I needn't tell you, Martin, what kind of men they are."
Mr. Cunningham gave a qualified assent.
"It's like everything else in this world," he said. "You get some bad
ones and you get some good ones."
"O yes, you get some good ones, I admit," said Mr. Kernan, satisfied.
"It's better to have nothing to say to them," said Mr. M'Coy. "That's my
Mrs. Kernan entered the room and, placing a tray on the table, said:
"Help yourselves, gentlemen."
Mr. Power stood up to officiate, offering her his chair. She declined
it, saying she was ironing downstairs, and, after having exchanged a nod
with Mr. Cunningham behind Mr. Power's back, prepared to leave the room.
Her husband called out to her:
"And have you nothing for me, duckie?"
"O, you! The back of my hand to you!" said Mrs. Kernan tartly.
Her husband called after her:
"Nothing for poor little hubby!"
He assumed such a comical face and voice that the distribution of the
bottles of stout took place amid general merriment.
The gentlemen drank from their glasses, set the glasses again on the
table and paused. Then Mr. Cunningham turned towards Mr. Power and said
"On Thursday night, you said, Jack."
"Thursday, yes," said Mr. Power.
"Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham promptly.
"We can meet in M'Auley's," said Mr. M'Coy. "That'll be the most
"But we mustn't be late," said Mr. Power earnestly, "because it is sure
to be crammed to the doors."
"We can meet at half-seven," said Mr. M'Coy.
"Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham.
"Half-seven at M'Auley's be it!"
There was a short silence. Mr. Kernan waited to see whether he would be
taken into his friends' confidence. Then he asked:
"What's in the wind?"
"O, it's nothing," said Mr. Cunningham. "It's only a little matter that
we're arranging about for Thursday."
"The opera, is it?" said Mr. Kernan.
"No, no," said Mr. Cunningham in an evasive tone, "it's just a little...
"O," said Mr. Kernan.
There was silence again. Then Mr. Power said, point blank:
"To tell you the truth, Tom, we're going to make a retreat."
"Yes, that's it," said Mr. Cunningham, "Jack and I and M'Coy here--we're
all going to wash the pot."
He uttered the metaphor with a certain homely energy and, encouraged by
his own voice, proceeded:
"You see, we may as well all admit we're a nice collection of
scoundrels, one and all. I say, one and all," he added with gruff
charity and turning to Mr. Power. "Own up now!"
"I own up," said Mr. Power.
"And I own up," said Mr. M'Coy.
"So we're going to wash the pot together," said Mr. Cunningham.
A thought seemed to strike him. He turned suddenly to the invalid and
"D'ye know what, Tom, has just occurred to me? You night join in and
we'd have a four-handed reel."
"Good idea," said Mr. Power. "The four of us together."
Mr. Kernan was silent. The proposal conveyed very little meaning to
his mind, but, understanding that some spiritual agencies were about to
concern themselves on his behalf, he thought he owed it to his dignity
to show a stiff neck. He took no part in the conversation for a long
while, but listened, with an air of calm enmity, while his friends
discussed the Jesuits.
"I haven't such a bad opinion of the Jesuits," he said, intervening at
length. "They're an educated order. I believe they mean well, too."
"They're the grandest order in the Church, Tom," said Mr. Cunningham,
with enthusiasm. "The General of the Jesuits stands next to the Pope."
"There's no mistake about it," said Mr. M'Coy, "if you want a thing
well done and no flies about, you go to a Jesuit. They're the boyos have
influence. I'll tell you a case in point...."
"The Jesuits are a fine body of men," said Mr. Power.
"It's a curious thing," said Mr. Cunningham, "about the Jesuit Order.
Every other order of the Church had to be reformed at some time or other
but the Jesuit Order was never once reformed. It never fell away."
"Is that so?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
"That's a fact," said Mr. Cunningham. "That's history."
"Look at their church, too," said Mr. Power. "Look at the congregation
"The Jesuits cater for the upper classes," said Mr. M'Coy.
"Of course," said Mr. Power.
"Yes," said Mr. Kernan. "That's why I have a feeling for them. It's some
of those secular priests, ignorant, bumptious----"
"They're all good men," said Mr. Cunningham, "each in his own way. The
Irish priesthood is honoured all the world over."
"O yes," said Mr. Power.
"Not like some of the other priesthoods on the continent," said Mr.
M'Coy, "unworthy of the name."
"Perhaps you're right," said Mr. Kernan, relenting.
"Of course I'm right," said Mr. Cunningham. "I haven't been in the
world all this time and seen most sides of it without being a judge of
The gentlemen drank again, one following another's example. Mr. Kernan
seemed to be weighing something in his mind. He was impressed. He had a
high opinion of Mr. Cunningham as a judge of character and as a reader
of faces. He asked for particulars.
"O, it's just a retreat, you know," said Mr. Cunningham. "Father Purdon
is giving it. It's for business men, you know."
"He won't be too hard on us, Tom," said Mr. Power persuasively.
"Father Purdon? Father Purdon?" said the invalid.
"O, you must know him, Tom," said Mr. Cunningham stoutly. "Fine, jolly
fellow! He's a man of the world like ourselves."
"Ah,... yes. I think I know him. Rather red face; tall."
"That's the man."
"And tell me, Martin.... Is he a good preacher?"
"Munno.... It's not exactly a sermon, you know. It's just kind of a
friendly talk, you know, in a common-sense way."
Mr. Kernan deliberated. Mr. M'Coy said:
"Father Tom Burke, that was the boy!"
"O, Father Tom Burke," said Mr. Cunningham, "that was a born orator. Did
you ever hear him, Tom?"
"Did I ever hear him!" said the invalid, nettled. "Rather! I heard
"And yet they say he wasn't much of a theologian," said Mr Cunningham.
"Is that so?" said Mr. M'Coy.
"O, of course, nothing wrong, you know. Only sometimes, they say, he
didn't preach what was quite orthodox."
"Ah!... he was a splendid man," said Mr. M'Coy.
"I heard him once," Mr. Kernan continued. "I forget the subject of his
discourse now. Crofton and I were in the back of the... pit, you know...
"The body," said Mr. Cunningham.
"Yes, in the back near the door. I forget now what.... O yes, it was
on the Pope, the late Pope. I remember it well. Upon my word it was
magnificent, the style of the oratory. And his voice! God! hadn't he a
voice! The Prisoner of the Vatican, he called him. I remember Crofton
saying to me when we came out----"
"But he's an Orangeman, Crofton, isn't he?" said Mr. Power.
"'Course he is," said Mr. Kernan, "and a damned decent Orangeman too. We
went into Butler's in Moore Street--faith, I was genuinely moved, tell you
the God's truth--and I remember well his very words. 'Kernan,' he said, 'we
worship at different altars, he said, but our belief is the same.' Struck
me as very well put."
"There's a good deal in that," said Mr. Power. "There used always to be
crowds of Protestants in the chapel where Father Tom was preaching."
"There's not much difference between us," said Mr. M'Coy.
"We both believe in----"
He hesitated for a moment.
"... in the Redeemer. Only they don't believe in the Pope and in the
mother of God."
"But, of course," said Mr. Cunningham quietly and effectively, "our
religion is the religion, the old, original faith."
"Not a doubt of it," said Mr. Kernan warmly.
Mrs. Kernan came to the door of the bedroom and announced:
"Here's a visitor for you!"
"Who is it?"
"O, come in! come in!"
A pale, oval face came forward into the light. The arch of its fair
trailing moustache was repeated in the fair eyebrows looped above
pleasantly astonished eyes. Mr. Fogarty was a modest grocer. He had
failed in business in a licensed house in the city because his financial
condition had constrained him to tie himself to second-class distillers
and brewers. He had opened a small shop on Glasnevin Road where, he
flattered himself, his manners would ingratiate him with the housewives
of the district. He bore himself with a certain grace, complimented
little children and spoke with a neat enunciation. He was not without
Mr. Fogarty brought a gift with him, a half-pint of special whisky. He
inquired politely for Mr. Kernan, placed his gift on the table and sat
down with the company on equal terms. Mr. Kernan appreciated the gift
all the more since he was aware that there was a small account for
groceries unsettled between him and Mr. Fogarty. He said:
"I wouldn't doubt you, old man. Open that, Jack, will you?"
Mr. Power again officiated. Glasses were rinsed and five small
measures of whisky were poured out. This new influence enlivened the
conversation. Mr. Fogarty, sitting on a small area of the chair, was
"Pope Leo XIII," said Mr. Cunningham, "was one of the lights of the age.
His great idea, you know, was the union of the Latin and Greek Churches.
That was the aim of his life."
"I often heard he was one of the most intellectual men in Europe," said
Mr. Power. "I mean, apart from his being Pope."
"So he was," said Mr. Cunningham, "if not the most so. His motto, you
know, as Pope, was Lux upon Lux--Light upon Light."
"No, no," said Mr. Fogarty eagerly. "I think you're wrong there. It was
Lux in Tenebris, I think--Light in Darkness."
"O yes," said Mr. M'Coy, "Tenebrae."
"Allow me," said Mr. Cunningham positively, "it was Lux upon Lux. And
Pius IX his predecessor's motto was Crux upon Crux--that is, Cross upon
Cross--to show the difference between their two pontificates."
The inference was allowed. Mr. Cunningham continued.
"Pope Leo, you know, was a great scholar and a poet."
"He had a strong face," said Mr. Kernan.
"Yes," said Mr. Cunningham. "He wrote Latin poetry."
"Is that so?" said Mr. Fogarty.
Mr. M'Coy tasted his whisky contentedly and shook his head with a double
"That's no joke, I can tell you."
"We didn't learn that, Tom," said Mr. Power, following Mr. M'Coy's
example, "when we went to the penny-a-week school."
"There was many a good man went to the penny-a-week school with a sod
of turf under his oxter," said Mr. Kernan sententiously. "The old system
was the best: plain honest education. None of your modern trumpery...."
"Quite right," said Mr. Power.
"No superfluities," said Mr. Fogarty.
He enunciated the word and then drank gravely.
"I remember reading," said Mr. Cunningham, "that one of Pope Leo's poems
was on the invention of the photograph--in Latin, of course."
"On the photograph!" exclaimed Mr. Kernan.
"Yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
He also drank from his glass.
"Well, you know," said Mr. M'Coy, "isn't the photograph wonderful when
you come to think of it?"
"O, of course," said Mr. Power, "great minds can see things."
"As the poet says: Great minds are very near to madness," said Mr.
Mr. Kernan seemed to be troubled in mind. He made an effort to recall
the Protestant theology on some thorny points and in the end addressed
"Tell me, Martin," he said. "Weren't some of the popes--of course, not
our present man, or his predecessor, but some of the old popes--not
exactly... you know... up to the knocker?"
There was a silence. Mr. Cunningham said
"O, of course, there were some bad lots... But the astonishing thing
is this. Not one of them, not the biggest drunkard, not the most...
out-and-out ruffian, not one of them ever preached ex cathedra a word of
false doctrine. Now isn't that an astonishing thing?"
"That is," said Mr. Kernan.
"Yes, because when the Pope speaks ex cathedra," Mr. Fogarty explained,
"he is infallible."
"Yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
"O, I know about the infallibility of the Pope. I remember I was younger
then.... Or was it that----?"
Mr. Fogarty interrupted. He took up the bottle and helped the others to
a little more. Mr. M'Coy, seeing that there was not enough to go round,
pleaded that he had not finished his first measure. The others accepted
under protest. The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an
"What's that you were saying, Tom?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
"Papal infallibility," said Mr. Cunningham, "that was the greatest scene
in the whole history of the Church."
"How was that, Martin?" asked Mr. Power.
Mr. Cunningham held up two thick fingers.
"In the sacred college, you know, of cardinals and archbishops and
bishops there were two men who held out against it while the others were
all for it. The whole conclave except these two was unanimous. No! They
wouldn't have it!"
"Ha!" said Mr. M'Coy.
"And they were a German cardinal by the name of Dolling... or Dowling...
"Dowling was no German, and that's a sure five," said Mr. Power,
"Well, this great German cardinal, whatever his name was, was one; and
the other was John MacHale."
"What?" cried Mr. Kernan. "Is it John of Tuam?"
"Are you sure of that now?" asked Mr. Fogarty dubiously. "I thought it
was some Italian or American."
"John of Tuam," repeated Mr. Cunningham, "was the man."
He drank and the other gentlemen followed his lead. Then he resumed:
"There they were at it, all the cardinals and bishops and archbishops
from all the ends of the earth and these two fighting dog and devil
until at last the Pope himself stood up and declared infallibility a
dogma of the Church ex cathedra. On the very moment John MacHale, who
had been arguing and arguing against it, stood up and shouted out with
the voice of a lion: 'Credo!'"
"I believe!" said Mr. Fogarty.
"Credo!" said Mr. Cunningham. "That showed the faith he had. He submitted
the moment the Pope spoke."
"And what about Dowling?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
"The German cardinal wouldn't submit. He left the church."
Mr. Cunningham's words had built up the vast image of the church in the
minds of his hearers. His deep, raucous voice had thrilled them as it
uttered the word of belief and submission. When Mrs. Kernan came into
the room, drying her hands she came into a solemn company. She did not
disturb the silence, but leaned over the rail at the foot of the bed.
"I once saw John MacHale," said Mr. Kernan, "and I'll never forget it as
long as I live."
He turned towards his wife to be confirmed.
"I often told you that?"
Mrs. Kernan nodded.
"It was at the unveiling of Sir John Gray's statue. Edmund Dwyer
Gray was speaking, blathering away, and here was this old fellow,
crabbed-looking old chap, looking at him from under his bushy eyebrows."
Mr. Kernan knitted his brows and, lowering his head like an angry bull,
glared at his wife.
"God!" he exclaimed, resuming his natural face, "I never saw such an eye
in a man's head. It was as much as to say: I have you properly taped, my
lad. He had an eye like a hawk."
"None of the Grays was any good," said Mr. Power.
There was a pause again. Mr. Power turned to Mrs. Kernan and said with
"Well, Mrs. Kernan, we're going to make your man here a good holy pious
and God-fearing Roman Catholic."
He swept his arm round the company inclusively.
"We're all going to make a retreat together and confess our sins--and
God knows we want it badly."
"I don't mind," said Mr. Kernan, smiling a little nervously.
Mrs. Kernan thought it would be wiser to conceal her satisfaction. So
"I pity the poor priest that has to listen to your tale."
Mr. Kernan's expression changed.
"If he doesn't like it," he said bluntly, "he can... do the other thing.
I'll just tell him my little tale of woe. I'm not such a bad fellow----"
Mr. Cunningham intervened promptly.
"We'll all renounce the devil," he said, "together, not forgetting his
works and pomps."
"Get behind me, Satan!" said Mr. Fogarty, laughing and looking at the
Mr. Power said nothing. He felt completely out-generalled. But a pleased
expression flickered across his face.
"All we have to do," said Mr. Cunningham, "is to stand up with lighted
candles in our hands and renew our baptismal vows."
"O, don't forget the candle, Tom," said Mr. M'Coy, "whatever you do."
"What?" said Mr. Kernan. "Must I have a candle?"
"O yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
"No, damn it all," said Mr. Kernan sensibly, "I draw the line there.
I'll do the job right enough. I'll do the retreat business and
confession, and... all that business. But... no candles! No, damn it
all, I bar the candles!"
He shook his head with farcical gravity.
"Listen to that!" said his wife.
"I bar the candles," said Mr. Kernan, conscious of having created an
effect on his audience and continuing to shake his head to and fro. "I
bar the magic-lantern business."
Everyone laughed heartily.
"There's a nice Catholic for you!" said his wife.
"No candles!" repeated Mr. Kernan obdurately. "That's off!"
The transept of the Jesuit Church in Gardiner Street was almost full;
and still at every moment gentlemen entered from the side door and,
directed by the lay-brother, walked on tiptoe along the aisles until
they found seating accommodation. The gentlemen were all well dressed
and orderly. The light of the lamps of the church fell upon an assembly
of black clothes and white collars, relieved here and there by tweeds,
on dark mottled pillars of green marble and on lugubrious canvases. The
gentlemen sat in the benches, having hitched their trousers slightly
above their knees and laid their hats in security. They sat well back
and gazed formally at the distant speck of red light which was suspended
before the high altar.
In one of the benches near the pulpit sat Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Kernan.
In the bench behind sat Mr. M'Coy alone: and in the bench behind him sat
Mr. Power and Mr. Fogarty. Mr. M'Coy had tried unsuccessfully to find a
place in the bench with the others, and, when the party had settled down
in the form of a quincunx, he had tried unsuccessfully to make comic
remarks. As these had not been well received, he had desisted. Even he
was sensible of the decorous atmosphere and even he began to respond to
the religious stimulus. In a whisper, Mr. Cunningham drew Mr. Kernan's
attention to Mr. Harford, the moneylender, who sat some distance off,
and to Mr. Fanning, the registration agent and mayor maker of the city,
who was sitting immediately under the pulpit beside one of the newly
elected councillors of the ward. To the right sat old Michael Grimes,
the owner of three pawnbroker's shops, and Dan Hogan's nephew, who was
up for the job in the Town Clerk's office. Farther in front sat
Mr. Hendrick, the chief reporter of The Freeman's Journal, and poor
O'Carroll, an old friend of Mr. Kernan's, who had been at one time a
considerable commercial figure. Gradually, as he recognised familiar
faces, Mr. Kernan began to feel more at home. His hat, which had been
rehabilitated by his wife, rested upon his knees. Once or twice he
pulled down his cuffs with one hand while he held the brim of his hat
lightly, but firmly, with the other hand.
A powerful-looking figure, the upper part of which was draped with
a white surplice, was observed to be struggling into the pulpit.
Simultaneously the congregation unsettled, produced handkerchiefs and
knelt upon them with care. Mr. Kernan followed the general example. The
priest's figure now stood upright in the pulpit, two-thirds of its bulk,
crowned by a massive red face, appearing above the balustrade.
Father Purdon knelt down, turned towards the red speck of light
and, covering his face with his hands, prayed. After an interval, he
uncovered his face and rose. The congregation rose also and settled
again on its benches. Mr. Kernan restored his hat to its original
position on his knee and presented an attentive face to the preacher.
The preacher turned back each wide sleeve of his surplice with an
elaborate large gesture and slowly surveyed the array of faces. Then he
"For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the
children of light. Wherefore make unto yourselves friends out of the
mammon of iniquity so that when you die they may receive you into
Father Purdon developed the text with resonant assurance. It was one of
the most difficult texts in all the Scriptures, he said, to interpret
properly. It was a text which might seem to the casual observer at
variance with the lofty morality elsewhere preached by Jesus Christ.
But, he told his hearers, the text had seemed to him specially adapted
for the guidance of those whose lot it was to lead the life of the world
and who yet wished to lead that life not in the manner of worldlings. It
was a text for business men and professional men. Jesus Christ, with His
divine understanding of every cranny of our human nature, understood
that all men were not called to the religious life, that by far the vast
majority were forced to live in the world, and, to a certain extent,
for the world: and in this sentence He designed to give them a word of
counsel, setting before them as exemplars in the religious life those
very worshippers of Mammon who were of all men the least solicitous in
He told his hearers that he was there that evening for no terrifying,
no extravagant purpose; but as a man of the world speaking to his
fellow-men. He came to speak to business men and he would speak to them
in a businesslike way. If he might use the metaphor, he said, he was
their spiritual accountant; and he wished each and every one of his
hearers to open his books, the books of his spiritual life, and see if
they tallied accurately with conscience.
Jesus Christ was not a hard taskmaster. He understood our little
failings, understood the weakness of our poor fallen nature, understood
the temptations of this life. We might have had, we all had from time to
time, our temptations: we might have, we all had, our failings. But one
thing only, he said, he would ask of his hearers. And that was: to be
straight and manly with God. If their accounts tallied in every point to
"Well, I have verified my accounts. I find all well."
But if, as might happen, there were some discrepancies, to admit the
truth, to be frank and say like a man:
"Well, I have looked into my accounts. I find this wrong and this wrong.
But, with God's grace, I will rectify this and this. I will set right my
LILY, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly
had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office
on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy
hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare
hallway to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to
attend to the ladies also. But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought
of that and had converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies'
dressing-room. Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and
laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the
stairs, peering down over the banisters and calling down to Lily to ask
her who had come.
It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance.
Everybody who knew them came to it, members of the family, old friends
of the family, the members of Julia's choir, any of Kate's pupils that
were grown up enough, and even some of Mary Jane's pupils too. Never
once had it fallen flat. For years and years it had gone off in splendid
style, as long as anyone could remember; ever since Kate and Julia,
after the death of their brother Pat, had left the house in Stoney
Batter and taken Mary Jane, their only niece, to live with them in the
dark, gaunt house on Usher's Island, the upper part of which they had
rented from Mr. Fulham, the corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a
good thirty years ago if it was a day. Mary Jane, who was then a little
girl in short clothes, was now the main prop of the household, for she
had the organ in Haddington Road. She had been through the Academy
and gave a pupils' concert every year in the upper room of the Antient
Concert Rooms. Many of her pupils belonged to the better-class families
on the Kingstown and Dalkey line. Old as they were, her aunts also did
their share. Julia, though she was quite grey, was still the leading
soprano in Adam and Eve's, and Kate, being too feeble to go about much,
gave music lessons to beginners on the old square piano in the back
room. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, did housemaid's work for them.
Though their life was modest, they believed in eating well; the best
of everything: diamond-bone sirloins, three-shilling tea and the best
bottled stout. But Lily seldom made a mistake in the orders, so that she
got on well with her three mistresses. They were fussy, that was all.
But the only thing they would not stand was back answers.
Of course, they had good reason to be fussy on such a night. And then it
was long after ten o'clock and yet there was no sign of Gabriel and his
wife. Besides they were dreadfully afraid that Freddy Malins might
turn up screwed. They would not wish for worlds that any of Mary Jane's
pupils should see him under the influence; and when he was like that it
was sometimes very hard to manage him. Freddy Malins always came late,
but they wondered what could be keeping Gabriel: and that was what
brought them every two minutes to the banisters to ask Lily had Gabriel
or Freddy come.
"O, Mr. Conroy," said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door for him,
"Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never coming. Good-night,
"I'll engage they did," said Gabriel, "but they forget that my wife here
takes three mortal hours to dress herself."
He stood on the mat, scraping the snow from his goloshes, while Lily led
his wife to the foot of the stairs and called out:
"Miss Kate, here's Mrs. Conroy."
Kate and Julia came toddling down the dark stairs at once. Both of them
kissed Gabriel's wife, said she must be perished alive, and asked was
Gabriel with her.
"Here I am as right as the mail, Aunt Kate! Go on up. I'll follow,"
called out Gabriel from the dark.
He continued scraping his feet vigorously while the three women went
upstairs, laughing, to the ladies' dressing-room. A light fringe of snow
lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on the
toes of his goloshes; and, as the buttons of his overcoat slipped with a
squeaking noise through the snow-stiffened frieze, a cold, fragrant air
from out-of-doors escaped from crevices and folds.
"Is it snowing again, Mr. Conroy?" asked Lily.
She had preceded him into the pantry to help him off with his overcoat.
Gabriel smiled at the three syllables she had given his surname and
glanced at her. She was a slim, growing girl, pale in complexion and
with hay-coloured hair. The gas in the pantry made her look still paler.
Gabriel had known her when she was a child and used to sit on the lowest
step nursing a rag doll.
"Yes, Lily," he answered, "and I think we're in for a night of it."
He looked up at the pantry ceiling, which was shaking with the stamping
and shuffling of feet on the floor above, listened for a moment to
the piano and then glanced at the girl, who was folding his overcoat
carefully at the end of a shelf.
"Tell me. Lily," he said in a friendly tone, "do you still go to
"O no, sir," she answered. "I'm done schooling this year and more."
"O, then," said Gabriel gaily, "I suppose we'll be going to your wedding
one of these fine days with your young man, eh?"
The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great
"The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of
Gabriel coloured, as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without
looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his
muffler at his patent-leather shoes.
He was a stout, tallish young man. The high colour of his cheeks
pushed upwards even to his forehead, where it scattered itself in a
few formless patches of pale red; and on his hairless face there
scintillated restlessly the polished lenses and the bright gilt rims of
the glasses which screened his delicate and restless eyes. His glossy
black hair was parted in the middle and brushed in a long curve behind
his ears where it curled slightly beneath the groove left by his hat.
When he had flicked lustre into his shoes he stood up and pulled his
waistcoat down more tightly on his plump body. Then he took a coin
rapidly from his pocket.
"O Lily," he said, thrusting it into her hands, "it's Christmastime,
isn't it? Just... here's a little...."
He walked rapidly towards the door.
"O no, sir!" cried the girl, following him. "Really, sir, I wouldn't
"Christmas-time! Christmas-time!" said Gabriel, almost trotting to the
stairs and waving his hand to her in deprecation.
The girl, seeing that he had gained the stairs, called out after him:
"Well, thank you, sir."
He waited outside the drawing-room door until the waltz should finish,
listening to the skirts that swept against it and to the shuffling of
feet. He was still discomposed by the girl's bitter and sudden retort.
It had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel by arranging his
cuffs and the bows of his tie. He then took from his waistcoat pocket a
little paper and glanced at the headings he had made for his speech. He
was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning, for he feared they
would be above the heads of his hearers. Some quotation that they would
recognise from Shakespeare or from the Melodies would be better. The
indelicate clacking of the men's heels and the shuffling of their soles
reminded him that their grade of culture differed from his. He would
only make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they
could not understand. They would think that he was airing his superior
education. He would fail with them just as he had failed with the girl
in the pantry. He had taken up a wrong tone. His whole speech was a
mistake from first to last, an utter failure.
Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies' dressing-room.
His aunts were two small, plainly dressed old women. Aunt Julia was an
inch or so the taller. Her hair, drawn low over the tops of her ears,
was grey; and grey also, with darker shadows, was her large flaccid
face. Though she was stout in build and stood erect, her slow eyes and
parted lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where
she was or where she was going. Aunt Kate was more vivacious. Her
face, healthier than her sister's, was all puckers and creases, like a
shrivelled red apple, and her hair, braided in the same old-fashioned
way, had not lost its ripe nut colour.
They both kissed Gabriel frankly. He was their favourite nephew, the son
of their dead elder sister, Ellen, who had married T. J. Conroy of the
Port and Docks.
"Gretta tells me you're not going to take a cab back to Monkstown
tonight, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate.
"No," said Gabriel, turning to his wife, "we had quite enough of that
last year, hadn't we? Don't you remember, Aunt Kate, what a cold Gretta
got out of it? Cab windows rattling all the way, and the east wind
blowing in after we passed Merrion. Very jolly it was. Gretta caught a
Aunt Kate frowned severely and nodded her head at every word.
"Quite right, Gabriel, quite right," she said. "You can't be too
"But as for Gretta there," said Gabriel, "she'd walk home in the snow if
she were let."
Mrs. Conroy laughed.
"Don't mind him, Aunt Kate," she said. "He's really an awful bother,
what with green shades for Tom's eyes at night and making him do the
dumb-bells, and forcing Eva to eat the stirabout. The poor child! And
she simply hates the sight of it!... O, but you'll never guess what he
makes me wear now!"
She broke out into a peal of laughter and glanced at her husband, whose
admiring and happy eyes had been wandering from her dress to her face
and hair. The two aunts laughed heartily, too, for Gabriel's solicitude
was a standing joke with them.
"Goloshes!" said Mrs. Conroy. "That's the latest. Whenever it's wet
underfoot I must put on my galoshes. Tonight even, he wanted me to put
them on, but I wouldn't. The next thing he'll buy me will be a diving
Gabriel laughed nervously and patted his tie reassuringly, while Aunt
Kate nearly doubled herself, so heartily did she enjoy the joke. The
smile soon faded from Aunt Julia's face and her mirthless eyes were
directed towards her nephew's face. After a pause she asked:
"And what are goloshes, Gabriel?"
"Goloshes, Julia!" exclaimed her sister "Goodness me, don't you know
what goloshes are? You wear them over your... over your boots, Gretta,
"Yes," said Mrs. Conroy. "Guttapercha things. We both have a pair now.
Gabriel says everyone wears them on the Continent."
"O, on the Continent," murmured Aunt Julia, nodding her head slowly.
Gabriel knitted his brows and said, as if he were slightly angered:
"It's nothing very wonderful, but Gretta thinks it very funny because
she says the word reminds her of Christy Minstrels."
"But tell me, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate, with brisk tact. "Of course,
you've seen about the room. Gretta was saying..."
"O, the room is all right," replied Gabriel. "I've taken one in the
"To be sure," said Aunt Kate, "by far the best thing to do. And the
children, Gretta, you're not anxious about them?"
"O, for one night," said Mrs. Conroy. "Besides, Bessie will look after
"To be sure," said Aunt Kate again. "What a comfort it is to have a girl
like that, one you can depend on! There's that Lily, I'm sure I don't
know what has come over her lately. She's not the girl she was at all."
Gabriel was about to ask his aunt some questions on this point, but she
broke off suddenly to gaze after her sister, who had wandered down the
stairs and was craning her neck over the banisters.
"Now, I ask you," she said almost testily, "where is Julia going? Julia!
Julia! Where are you going?"
Julia, who had gone half way down one flight, came back and announced
At the same moment a clapping of hands and a final flourish of the
pianist told that the waltz had ended. The drawing-room door was opened
from within and some couples came out. Aunt Kate drew Gabriel aside
hurriedly and whispered into his ear:
"Slip down, Gabriel, like a good fellow and see if he's all right, and
don't let him up if he's screwed. I'm sure he's screwed. I'm sure he
Gabriel went to the stairs and listened over the banisters. He could
hear two persons talking in the pantry. Then he recognised Freddy
Malins' laugh. He went down the stairs noisily.
"It's such a relief," said Aunt Kate to Mrs. Conroy, "that Gabriel is
here. I always feel easier in my mind when he's here.... Julia, there's
Miss Daly and Miss Power will take some refreshment. Thanks for your
beautiful waltz, Miss Daly. It made lovely time."
A tall wizen-faced man, with a stiff grizzled moustache and swarthy
skin, who was passing out with his partner, said:
"And may we have some refreshment, too, Miss Morkan?"
"Julia," said Aunt Kate summarily, "and here's Mr. Browne and Miss
Furlong. Take them in, Julia, with Miss Daly and Miss Power."
"I'm the man for the ladies," said Mr. Browne, pursing his lips until
his moustache bristled and smiling in all his wrinkles. "You know, Miss
Morkan, the reason they are so fond of me is----"
He did not finish his sentence, but, seeing that Aunt Kate was out of
earshot, at once led the three young ladies into the back room. The
middle of the room was occupied by two square tables placed end to
end, and on these Aunt Julia and the caretaker were straightening
and smoothing a large cloth. On the sideboard were arrayed dishes and
plates, and glasses and bundles of knives and forks and spoons. The top
of the closed square piano served also as a sideboard for viands
and sweets. At a smaller sideboard in one corner two young men were
standing, drinking hop-bitters.
Mr. Browne led his charges thither and invited them all, in jest, to
some ladies' punch, hot, strong and sweet. As they said they never took
anything strong, he opened three bottles of lemonade for them. Then
he asked one of the young men to move aside, and, taking hold of the
decanter, filled out for himself a goodly measure of whisky. The young
men eyed him respectfully while he took a trial sip.
"God help me," he said, smiling, "it's the doctor's orders."
His wizened face broke into a broader smile, and the three young ladies
laughed in musical echo to his pleasantry, swaying their bodies to and
fro, with nervous jerks of their shoulders. The boldest said:
"O, now, Mr. Browne, I'm sure the doctor never ordered anything of the
Mr. Browne took another sip of his whisky and said, with sidling
"Well, you see, I'm like the famous Mrs. Cassidy, who is reported to
have said: 'Now, Mary Grimes, if I don't take it, make me take it, for I
feel I want it.'"
His hot face had leaned forward a little too confidentially and he had
assumed a very low Dublin accent so that the young ladies, with one
instinct, received his speech in silence. Miss Furlong, who was one
of Mary Jane's pupils, asked Miss Daly what was the name of the pretty
waltz she had played; and Mr. Browne, seeing that he was ignored, turned
promptly to the two young men who were more appreciative.
A red-faced young woman, dressed in pansy, came into the room, excitedly
clapping her hands and crying:
Close on her heels came Aunt Kate, crying:
"Two gentlemen and three ladies, Mary Jane!"
"O, here's Mr. Bergin and Mr. Kerrigan," said Mary Jane. "Mr. Kerrigan,
will you take Miss Power? Miss Furlong, may I get you a partner, Mr.
Bergin. O, that'll just do now."
"Three ladies, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate.
The two young gentlemen asked the ladies if they might have the
pleasure, and Mary Jane turned to Miss Daly.
"O, Miss Daly, you're really awfully good, after playing for the last
two dances, but really we're so short of ladies tonight."
"I don't mind in the least, Miss Morkan."
"But I've a nice partner for you, Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, the tenor. I'll
get him to sing later on. All Dublin is raving about him."
"Lovely voice, lovely voice!" said Aunt Kate.
As the piano had twice begun the prelude to the first figure Mary Jane
led her recruits quickly from the room. They had hardly gone when Aunt
Julia wandered slowly into the room, looking behind her at something.
"What is the matter, Julia?" asked Aunt Kate anxiously. "Who is it?"
Julia, who was carrying in a column of table-napkins, turned to her
sister and said, simply, as if the question had surprised her:
"It's only Freddy, Kate, and Gabriel with him."
In fact right behind her Gabriel could be seen piloting Freddy Malins
across the landing. The latter, a young man of about forty, was of
Gabriel's size and build, with very round shoulders. His face was fleshy
and pallid, touched with colour only at the thick hanging lobes of his
ears and at the wide wings of his nose. He had coarse features, a
blunt nose, a conve
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