Dubliners

by

CONTENTS

The Sisters
An Encounter
Araby
Eveline
After the Race
Two Gallants
The Boarding House
A Little Cloud
Counterparts
Clay
A Painful Case
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
A Mother
Grace
The Dead

DUBLINERS




THE SISTERS



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.


“Father Flynn.”


“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 asked.


“It’s bad for children,” said old Cotter,
“because their mind are so impressionable. When children see
things like that, you know, it has an effect....”



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 doorknocker 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 shop-windows 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 crossed 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.”


“And everything...?”


“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 fall asleep.


“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 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 me, nor you, ma’am,
sending him his snuff. Ah, poor James!”



She stopped, as if she were communing with the past and then
said shrewdly:


“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 open.”


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 without speaking.


“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....”


Eliza nodded.


“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.



Eliza resumed:


“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 with him....”




AN ENCOUNTER


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, frowning.


“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 schoollife 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 firstcomer 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 sailingvessel 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 wane.



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 goodday. 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 gready
since he was a boy—a long time ago. He said that the happiest
time of one’s life was undoubtedly one’s schoolboy 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 I had.
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 of sweethearts.


“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 be Smith.”


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 understand him.



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:


“Murphy!”


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.




ARABY


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 imperturbable faces.


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 Communnicant 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
times.


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 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 house 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 their conversation.


“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.”


“0, 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.




EVELINE


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. O 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 listening.


“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 no 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 on 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 hr 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 lover secretly.


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 mothers 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 her.


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:


“Come!”


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 railing.


“Come!”


No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in
frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.


“Eveline! Evvy!”



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 genuinely happy.


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, too.



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 significantly.


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 party.


“Andre.”


“It’s Farley!”


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 man:


“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 conviction:


“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:


“Daybreak, gentlemen!”




TWO GALLANTS


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 unceasing murmur.


Two young men came down the hill of Rutland Square. On 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 with humour:


“That takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call
it, recherche biscuit! ”


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 vent 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 the biscuit.”


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 gut. 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 right, eh?”


Corley closed one eye expressively as an answer.


“Is she game for that?” asked Lenehan dubiously.

“You can never know women.”


“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 it.”


“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 is.”



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
full.


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 his face.


“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 out:


“And after? Where will we meet?”


“Half ten,” answered Corley, bringing over his other
leg.


“Where?”


“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 bosom stems upwards. Lenehan’s eyes noted approvingly her
stout short muscular body. rank 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:


“Hallo, Corley!”


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 palm.





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 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 white
eyebrows, pencilled above his little eyes, which were 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 the 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 Madam.


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 mad
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 tolerance.


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 case. 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
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 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
arose.


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 goodnights. 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 God!”


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 the return-room.


Suddenly he remembered the night when one of the musichall
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 would.


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 anything.


At last she heard her mother calling. She started to her feet
and ran to the banisters.


“Polly! Polly!”



“Yes, mamma?”


“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 teeth.



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
corner:



“Half time now, boys,” he used to say
light-heartedly. “Where’s my considering
cap?”


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 bravely.


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 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 apart.


“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 again.


“It pulls you down,” be 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
when.”



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 boldly.


“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 say?”


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 had.


“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.”


“No, really....”


“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 as 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 the time.”


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 and——”



“Thanks awfully, old chap,” said Ignatius Gallaher,
“I’m sorry we didn’t meet earlier. But I must
leave tomorrow night.”


“Tonight, perhaps...?”


“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 pleasure
deferred.”


“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, parole d’honneur.”


“And to clinch the bargain,” said Little Chandler,
“we’ll just have one more now.”


Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked a
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 ever do.”


“Some day you will,” said Little Chandler
calmly.


Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full
upon his friend.



“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.



Hm!...


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 hi 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 for him.


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 tbe 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:


“Stop!”



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 died!...


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 sobbing.


“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 anything.... What?”


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!... There now!”



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.




COUNTERPARTS


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 a desk:


“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 cried:


“Come in!”


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 a moment:


“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 now?”


“Yes, sir.”



“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?”


“Yes, sir.”


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 him:


“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 me.”



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 couldn’t....


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 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 matchsellers 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 Street.


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 his friends.



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
determined.


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 said.


“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 familiarity:


“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:


“Ada! Ada!”


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.


“Me, pa.”



“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 again!”



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....”




CLAY



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 of Maria.



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, so genteel.


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 little body.


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:


“Two-and-four, please.”


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: “0, 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:



“Thanks, Maria.”


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 insisted.


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: 0, 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 her chin.



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 sang again:


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 medival 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-glasses. 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 o
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 meet 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 going slowly.


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?”


Witness. “Yes.”



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 57 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 blame.


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 was alone.





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 reemerged 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 sky 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:


MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS





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 e 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 companion smoked.


“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 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....”


“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
fathers?”



“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 out:


“Hello! Is this a Freemason’s 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 lurch tonight.”


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. O’Connor.


“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.”


“0f course, the working-classes should be
represented,” said the old man.


“The working-man,” said Mr. Hynes, “gets all
kicks and no halfpence. But it’s labour produces everything.
The workingman 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 king?”


“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 them.


“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 man vacated.


“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?”


“I did.”


“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.”


“Why so?”


“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 left.”


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.”


“0, 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 schoolboy 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:


“‘Bye, Joe.”


Mr. Henchy waited a few moments and then nodded in the direction
of the door.


“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 wrote...?”



“Some of these hillsiders and fenians are a bit too clever
if 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.
Fanning....”



“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 pasteboard card.


“Hm? ”



“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
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 Cowley.”


“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
job?”


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 party.”


“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 all now?”



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:


“Any bottles?”


“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, saying:


“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.
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 drank each
placed his bottle on the mantelpiece within hand’s reach and
drew in a long breath of satisfaction.


“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 talking.”



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 calve?”


“O, of course, Lyons spots the drink first thing!”
said Mr. O’Connor, laughing.



“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 dow-n 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 thus 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 now.”


“In the name of God,” said Mr. Henchy,
“where’s the analogy between the two cases?”


“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 Seventh?”



“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 fire.”



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 Chief.”


“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!”



“0, Joe,” said Mr. O’Connor suddenly.
“Give us that thing you wrote—do you remember? Have you
got it on you?”


“0, 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 fine? What?”



Crofton said that it was a very fine piece of writing.




A MOTHER


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 man 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
concerts.



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 was true.


“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 silent.


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 be 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 and asked:


“Are you in it too? ”



“Yes,” said Mr. Duggan.


Mr. Bell laughed at his fellow-sufferer, held out his hand and
said:


“Shake!”


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 him.


“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 respected.


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 repeated:


“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 he: 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 fellow fol-the-diddle-I-do.”


“I thought you were a lady,” said Mr. Holohan,
walking away from her abruptly.



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.




GRACE



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 costable,
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 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 his feet.


“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 called out:



“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 crowd divided.


“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
Kernan.”



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 together.


“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.”


“Show.”


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 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
corner.”



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 pockets.


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 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 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.
Kernan’s case.


“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 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?”


“Harford.”


“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 good points.


“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 him——”



“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 all?”


“It happened that you were peloothered, Tom,” said
Mr. Cunningham gravely.


“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 it.


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 bumpkins.


“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 hours.


“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 opinion!”


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 casually:


“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 convenient
place.”


“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... spiritual matter.”


“0,” 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 said:


“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 they have.”


“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 character.”



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 him....”


“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——”



“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, 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 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?”


“Mr. Fogarty.”



“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 culture.


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 specially interested.


“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 intention, saying:


“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. Fogarty.


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 Mr. Cunningham.


“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 agreeable interlude.


“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... or——”


“Dowling was no German, and that’s a sure
five,” said Mr. Power, laughing.



“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 abrupt joviality:



“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 she said:



“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 others.


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 said:


“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 everlasting dwellings.”


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 matters religious.


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 say:


“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 accounts.”





THE DEAD


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, Mrs. Conroy.”


“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 school?”


“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 bitterness:


“The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can
get out of you.”


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 take it.”


“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 dreadful
cold.”


Aunt Kate frowned severely and nodded her head at every
word.


“Quite right, Gabriel, quite right,” she said.
“You can’t be too careful.”


“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
suit.”


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, isn’t
it?”


“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...”


“0, the room is all right,” replied Gabriel.
“I’ve taken one in the Gresham.”


“To be sure,” said Aunt Kate, “by far the best
thing to do. And the children, Gretta, you’re not anxious
about them?”



“0, for one night,” said Mrs. Conroy.
“Besides, Bessie will look after them.”


“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 blandly:


“Here’s Freddy.”


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
is.”



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 kind.”


Mr. Browne took another sip of his whisky and said, with sidling
mimicry:


“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:



“Quadrilles! Quadrilles!”


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 convex and receding brow,
tumid and protruded lips. His heavy-lidded eyes and the disorder of
his scanty hair made him look sleepy. He was laughing heartily in a
high key at a story which he had been telling Gabriel on the stairs
and at the same time rubbing the knuckles of his left fist
backwards and forwards into his left eye.


“Good-evening, Freddy,” said Aunt Julia.



Freddy Malins bade the Misses Morkan good-evening in what seemed
an offhand fashion by reason of the habitual catch in his voice and
then, seeing that Mr. Browne was grinning at him from the
sideboard, crossed the room on rather shaky legs and began to
repeat in an undertone the story he had just told to Gabriel.


“He’s not so bad, is he?” said Aunt Kate to
Gabriel.


Gabriel’s brows were dark but he raised them quickly and
answered:


“O, no, hardly noticeable.”


“Now, isn’t he a terrible fellow!” she said.
“And his poor mother made him take the pledge on New
Year’s Eve. But come on, Gabriel, into the
drawing-room.”



Before leaving the room with Gabriel she signalled to Mr. Browne
by frowning and shaking her forefinger in warning to and fro. Mr.
Browne nodded in answer and, when she had gone, said to Freddy
Malins:


“Now, then, Teddy, I’m going to fill you out a good
glass of lemonade just to buck you up.”


Freddy Malins, who was nearing the climax of his story, waved
the offer aside impatiently but Mr. Browne, having first called
Freddy Malins’ attention to a disarray in his dress, filled
out and handed him a full glass of lemonade. Freddy Malins’
left hand accepted the glass mechanically, his right hand being
engaged in the mechanical readjustment of his dress. Mr. Browne,
whose face was once more wrinkling with mirth, poured out for
himself a glass of whisky while Freddy Malins exploded, before he
had well reached the climax of his story, in a kink of high-pitched
bronchitic laughter and, setting down his untasted and overflowing
glass, began to rub the knuckles of his left fist backwards and
forwards into his left eye, repeating words of his last phrase as
well as his fit of laughter would allow him.


Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy
piece, full of runs and difficult passages, to the hushed
drawing-room. He liked music but the piece she was playing had no
melody for him and he doubted whether it had any melody for the
other listeners, though they had begged Mary Jane to play
something. Four young men, who had come from the refreshment-room
to stand in the doorway at the sound of the piano, had gone away
quietly in couples after a few minutes. The only persons who seemed
to follow the music were Mary Jane herself, her hands racing along
the key-board or lifted from it at the pauses like those of a
priestess in momentary imprecation, and Aunt Kate standing at her
elbow to turn the page.


Gabriel’s eyes, irritated by the floor, which glittered
with beeswax under the heavy chandelier, wandered to the wall above
the piano. A picture of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet hung
there and beside it was a picture of the two murdered princes in
the Tower which Aunt Julia had worked in red, blue and brown wools
when she was a girl. Probably in the school they had gone to as
girls that kind of work had been taught for one year. His mother
had worked for him as a birthday present a waistcoat of purple
tabinet, with little foxes’ heads upon it, lined with brown
satin and having round mulberry buttons. It was strange that his
mother had had no musical talent though Aunt Kate used to call her
the brains carrier of the Morkan family. Both she and Julia had
always seemed a little proud of their serious and matronly sister.
Her photograph stood before the pierglass. She held an open book on
her knees and was pointing out something in it to Constantine who,
dressed in a man-o-war suit, lay at her feet. It was she who had
chosen the name of her sons for she was very sensible of the
dignity of family life. Thanks to her, Constantine was now senior
curate in Balbrigan and, thanks to her, Gabriel himself had taken
his degree in the Royal University. A shadow passed over his face
as he remembered her sullen opposition to his marriage. Some
slighting phrases she had used still rankled in his memory; she had
once spoken of Gretta as being country cute and that was not true
of Gretta at all. It was Gretta who had nursed her during all her
last long illness in their house at Monkstown.



He knew that Mary Jane must be near the end of her piece for she
was playing again the opening melody with runs of scales after
every bar and while he waited for the end the resentment died down
in his heart. The piece ended with a trill of octaves in the treble
and a final deep octave in the bass. Great applause greeted Mary
Jane as, blushing and rolling up her music nervously, she escaped
from the room. The most vigorous clapping came from the four young
men in the doorway who had gone away to the refreshment-room at the
beginning of the piece but had come back when the piano had
stopped.


Lancers were arranged. Gabriel found himself partnered with Miss
Ivors. She was a frank-mannered talkative young lady, with a
freckled face and prominent brown eyes. She did not wear a low-cut
bodice and the large brooch which was fixed in the front of her
collar bore on it an Irish device and motto.


When they had taken their places she said abruptly:


“I have a crow to pluck with you.”


“With me?” said Gabriel.


She nodded her head gravely.


“What is it?” asked Gabriel, smiling at her solemn
manner.



“Who is G. C.?” answered Miss Ivors, turning her
eyes upon him.


Gabriel coloured and was about to knit his brows, as if he did
not understand, when she said bluntly:


“O, innocent Amy! I have found out that you write for The
Daily Express. Now, aren’t you ashamed of
yourself?”


“Why should I be ashamed of myself?” asked Gabriel,
blinking his eyes and trying to smile.


“Well, I’m ashamed of you,” said Miss Ivors
frankly. “To say you’d write for a paper like that. I
didn’t think you were a West Briton.”



A look of perplexity appeared on Gabriel’s face. It was
true that he wrote a literary column every Wednesday in The Daily
Express, for which he was paid fifteen shillings. But that did not
make him a West Briton surely. The books he received for review
were almost more welcome than the paltry cheque. He loved to feel
the covers and turn over the pages of newly printed books. Nearly
every day when his teaching in the college was ended he used to
wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers, to
Hickey’s on Bachelor’s Walk, to Web’s or
Massey’s on Aston’s Quay, or to
O’Clohissey’s in the bystreet. He did not know how to
meet her charge. He wanted to say that literature was above
politics. But they were friends of many years’ standing and
their careers had been parallel, first at the University and then
as teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with her. He
continued blinking his eyes and trying to smile and murmured lamely
that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books.


When their turn to cross had come he was still perplexed and
inattentive. Miss Ivors promptly took his hand in a warm grasp and
said in a soft friendly tone:


“Of course, I was only joking. Come, we cross
now.”


When they were together again she spoke of the University
question and Gabriel felt more at ease. A friend of hers had shown
her his review of Browning’s poems. That was how she had
found out the secret: but she liked the review immensely. Then she
said suddenly:



“O, Mr. Conroy, will you come for an excursion to the Aran
Isles this summer? We’re going to stay there a whole month.
It will be splendid out in the Atlantic. You ought to come. Mr.
Clancy is coming, and Mr. Kilkelly and Kathleen Kearney. It would
be splendid for Gretta too if she’d come. She’s from
Connacht, isn’t she?”


“Her people are,” said Gabriel shortly.


“But you will come, won’t you?” said Miss
Ivors, laying her arm hand eagerly on his arm.


“The fact is,” said Gabriel, “I have just
arranged to go——”



“Go where?” asked Miss Ivors.


“Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with
some fellows and so——”


“But where?” asked Miss Ivors.


“Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps
Germany,” said Gabriel awkwardly.


“And why do you go to France and Belgium,” said Miss
Ivors, “instead of visiting your own land?”



“Well,” said Gabriel, “it’s partly to
keep in touch with the languages and partly for a
change.”


“And haven’t you your own language to keep in touch
with— Irish?” asked Miss Ivors.


“Well,” said Gabriel, “if it comes to that,
you know, Irish is not my language.”



Their neighbours had turned to listen to the cross—
examination. Gabriel glanced right and left nervously and tried to
keep his good humour under the ordeal which was making a blush
invade his forehead.


“And haven’t you your own land to visit,”
continued Miss Ivors, “that you know nothing of, your own
people, and your own country?”


“0, to tell you the truth,” retorted Gabriel
suddenly, “I’m sick of my own country, sick of
it!”


“Why?” asked Miss Ivors.



Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.


“Why?” repeated Miss Ivors.


They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered
her, Miss Ivors said warmly:


“Of course, you’ve no answer.”


Gabriel tried to cover his agitation by taking part in the dance
with great energy. He avoided her eyes for he had seen a sour
expression on her face. But when they met in the long chain he was
surprised to feel his hand firmly pressed. She looked at him from
under her brows for a moment quizzically until he smiled. Then,
just as the chain was about to start again, she stood on tiptoe and
whispered into his ear:


“West Briton!”


When the lancers were over Gabriel went away to a remote corner
of the room where Freddy Malins’ mother was sitting. She was
a stout feeble old woman with white hair. Her voice had a catch in
it like her son’s and she stuttered slightly. She had been
told that Freddy had come and that he was nearly all right. Gabriel
asked her whether she had had a good crossing. She lived with her
married daughter in Glasgow and came to Dublin on a visit once a
year. She answered placidly that she had had a beautiful crossing
and that the captain had been most attentive to her. She spoke also
of the beautiful house her daughter kept in Glasgow, and of all the
friends they had there. While her tongue rambled on Gabriel tried
to banish from his mind all memory of the unpleasant incident with
Miss Ivors. Of course the girl or woman, or whatever she was, was
an enthusiast but there was a time for all things. Perhaps he ought
not to have answered her like that. But she had no right to call
him a West Briton before people, even in joke. She had tried to
make him ridiculous before people, heckling him and staring at him
with her rabbit’s eyes.



He saw his wife making her way towards him through the waltzing
couples. When she reached him she said into his ear:


“Gabriel. Aunt Kate wants to know won’t you carve
the goose as usual. Miss Daly will carve the ham and I’ll do
the pudding.”


“All right,” said Gabriel.


“She’s sending in the younger ones first as soon as
this waltz is over so that we’ll have the table to
ourselves.”


“Were you dancing?” asked Gabriel.



“Of course I was. Didn’t you see me? What row had
you with Molly Ivors?”


“No row. Why? Did she say so?”


“Something like that. I’m trying to get that Mr.
D’Arcy to sing. He’s full of conceit, I
think.”


“There was no row,” said Gabriel moodily,
“only she wanted me to go for a trip to the west of Ireland
and I said I wouldn’t.”


His wife clasped her hands excitedly and gave a little jump.



“O, do go, Gabriel,” she cried. “I’d
love to see Galway again.”


“You can go if you like,” said Gabriel coldly.


She looked at him for a moment, then turned to Mrs. Malins and
said:


“There’s a nice husband for you, Mrs.
Malins.”


While she was threading her way back across the room Mrs.
Malins, without adverting to the interruption, went on to tell
Gabriel what beautiful places there were in Scotland and beautiful
scenery. Her son-in-law brought them every year to the lakes and
they used to go fishing. Her son-in-law was a splendid fisher. One
day he caught a beautiful big fish and the man in the hotel cooked
it for their dinner.



Gabriel hardly heard what she said. Now that supper was coming
near he began to think again about his speech and about the
quotation. When he saw Freddy Malins coming across the room to
visit his mother Gabriel left the chair free for him and retired
into the embrasure of the window. The room had already cleared and
from the back room came the clatter of plates and knives. Those who
still remained in the drawing room seemed tired of dancing and were
conversing quietly in little groups. Gabriel’s warm trembling
fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be
outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone, first along by
the river and then through the park! The snow would be lying on the
branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the
Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it would be there than
at the supper-table!


He ran over the headings of his speech: Irish hospitality, sad
memories, the Three Graces, Paris, the quotation from Browning. He
repeated to himself a phrase he had written in his review:
“One feels that one is listening to a thought—
tormented music.” Miss Ivors had praised the review. Was she
sincere? Had she really any life of her own behind all her
propagandism? There had never been any ill-feeling between them
until that night. It unnerved him to think that she would be at the
supper-table, looking up at him while he spoke with her critical
quizzing eyes. Perhaps she would not be sorry to see him fail in
his speech. An idea came into his mind and gave him courage. He
would say, alluding to Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia: “Ladies and
Gentlemen, the generation which is now on the wane among us may
have had its faults but for my part I think it had certain
qualities of hospitality, of humour, of humanity, which the new and
very serious and hypereducated generation that is growing up around
us seems to me to lack.” Very good: that was one for Miss
Ivors. What did he care that his aunts were only two ignorant old
women?


A murmur in the room attracted his attention. Mr. Browne was
advancing from the door, gallantly escorting Aunt Julia, who leaned
upon his arm, smiling and hanging her head. An irregular musketry
of applause escorted her also as far as the piano and then, as Mary
Jane seated herself on the stool, and Aunt Julia, no longer
smiling, half turned so as to pitch her voice fairly into the room,
gradually ceased. Gabriel recognised the prelude. It was that of an
old song of Aunt Julia’s—Arrayed for the Bridal. Her
voice, strong and clear in tone, attacked with great spirit the
runs which embellish the air and though she sang very rapidly she
did not miss even the smallest of the grace notes. To follow the
voice, without looking at the singer’s face, was to feel and
share the excitement of swift and secure flight. Gabriel applauded
loudly with all the others at the close of the song and loud
applause was borne in from the invisible supper-table. It sounded
so genuine that a little colour struggled into Aunt Julia’s
face as she bent to replace in the music-stand the old
leather-bound songbook that had her initials on the cover. Freddy
Malins, who had listened with his head perched sideways to hear her
better, was still applauding when everyone else had ceased and
talking animatedly to his mother who nodded her head gravely and
slowly in acquiescence. At last, when he could clap no more, he
stood up suddenly and hurried across the room to Aunt Julia whose
hand he seized and held in both his hands, shaking it when words
failed him or the catch in his voice proved too much for him.



“I was just telling my mother,” he said, “I
never heard you sing so well, never. No, I never heard your voice
so good as it is tonight. Now! Would you believe that now?
That’s the truth. Upon my word and honour that’s the
truth. I never heard your voice sound so fresh and so... so clear
and fresh, never.”


Aunt Julia smiled broadly and murmured something about
compliments as she released her hand from his grasp. Mr. Browne
extended his open hand towards her and said to those who were near
him in the manner of a showman introducing a prodigy to an
audience:


“Miss Julia Morkan, my latest discovery!”


He was laughing very heartily at this himself when Freddy Malins
turned to him and said:


“Well, Browne, if you’re serious you might make a
worse discovery. All I can say is I never heard her sing half so
well as long as I am coming here. And that’s the honest
truth.”



“Neither did I,” said Mr. Browne. “I think her
voice has greatly improved.”


Aunt Julia shrugged her shoulders and said with meek pride:


“Thirty years ago I hadn’t a bad voice as voices
go.”


“I often told Julia,” said Aunt Kate emphatically,
“that she was simply thrown away in that choir. But she never
would be said by me.”


She turned as if to appeal to the good sense of the others
against a refractory child while Aunt Julia gazed in front of her,
a vague smile of reminiscence playing on her face.



“No,” continued Aunt Kate, “she wouldn’t
be said or led by anyone, slaving there in that choir night and
day, night and day. Six o’clock on Christmas morning! And all
for what?”


“Well, isn’t it for the honour of God, Aunt
Kate?” asked Mary Jane, twisting round on the piano-stool and
smiling.


Aunt Kate turned fiercely on her niece and said:


“I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I
think it’s not at all honourable for the pope to turn out the
women out of the choirs that have slaved there all their lives and
put little whipper-snappers of boys over their heads. I suppose it
is for the good of the Church if the pope does it. But it’s
not just, Mary Jane, and it’s not right.”



She had worked herself into a passion and would have continued
in defence of her sister for it was a sore subject with her but
Mary Jane, seeing that all the dancers had come back, intervened
pacifically:


“Now, Aunt Kate, you’re giving scandal to Mr. Browne
who is of the other persuasion.”


Aunt Kate turned to Mr. Browne, who was grinning at this
allusion to his religion, and said hastily:


“O, I don’t question the pope’s being right.
I’m only a stupid old woman and I wouldn’t presume to
do such a thing. But there’s such a thing as common everyday
politeness and gratitude. And if I were in Julia’s place
I’d tell that Father Healey straight up to his
face...”


“And besides, Aunt Kate,” said Mary Jane, “we
really are all hungry and when we are hungry we are all very
quarrelsome.”



“And when we are thirsty we are also quarrelsome,”
added Mr. Browne.


“So that we had better go to supper,” said Mary
Jane, “and finish the discussion afterwards.”


On the landing outside the drawing-room Gabriel found his wife
and Mary Jane trying to persuade Miss Ivors to stay for supper. But
Miss Ivors, who had put on her hat and was buttoning her cloak,
would not stay. She did not feel in the least hungry and she had
already overstayed her time.


“But only for ten minutes, Molly,” said Mrs. Conroy.
“That won’t delay you.”



“To take a pick itself,” said Mary Jane,
“after all your dancing.”


“I really couldn’t,” said Miss Ivors.


“I am afraid you didn’t enjoy yourself at
all,” said Mary Jane hopelessly.


“Ever so much, I assure you,” said Miss Ivors,

“but you really must let me run off now.”


“But how can you get home?” asked Mrs. Conroy.


“O, it’s only two steps up the quay.”


Gabriel hesitated a moment and said:


“If you will allow me, Miss Ivors, I’ll see you home
if you are really obliged to go.”


But Miss Ivors broke away from them.


“I won’t hear of it,” she cried. “For
goodness’ sake go in to your suppers and don’t mind me.
I’m quite well able to take care of myself.”



“Well, you’re the comical girl, Molly,” said
Mrs. Conroy frankly.


“Beannacht libh,” cried Miss Ivors, with a laugh, as
she ran down the staircase.


Mary Jane gazed after her, a moody puzzled expression on her
face, while Mrs. Conroy leaned over the banisters to listen for the
hall-door. Gabriel asked himself was he the cause of her abrupt
departure. But she did not seem to be in ill humour: she had gone
away laughing. He stared blankly down the staircase.


At the moment Aunt Kate came toddling out of the supper-room,
almost wringing her hands in despair.


“Where is Gabriel?” she cried. “Where on earth
is Gabriel? There’s everyone waiting in there, stage to let,
and nobody to carve the goose!”



“Here I am, Aunt Kate!” cried Gabriel, with sudden
animation, “ready to carve a flock of geese, if
necessary.”


A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other
end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a
great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust
crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a
round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines
of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a
shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large
green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay
bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on
which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard
topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and
sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which
stood some tall celery stalks. In the centre of the table there
stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of
oranges and American apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of
cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. On the
closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting
and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and
minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the
first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest
squad white, with transverse green sashes.


Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and,
having looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly
into the goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert
carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of
a well-laden table.


“Miss Furlong, what shall I send you?” he asked.
“A wing or a slice of the breast?”


“Just a small slice of the breast.”


“Miss Higgins, what for you?”



“O, anything at all, Mr. Conroy.”


While Gabriel and Miss Daly exchanged plates of goose and plates
of ham and spiced beef Lily went from guest to guest with a dish of
hot floury potatoes wrapped in a white napkin. This was Mary
Jane’s idea and she had also suggested apple sauce for the
goose but Aunt Kate had said that plain roast goose without any
apple sauce had always been good enough for her and she hoped she
might never eat worse. Mary Jane waited on her pupils and saw that
they got the best slices and Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia opened and
carried across from the piano bottles of stout and ale for the
gentlemen and bottles of minerals for the ladies. There was a great
deal of confusion and laughter and noise, the noise of orders and
counter-orders, of knives and forks, of corks and glass-stoppers.
Gabriel began to carve second helpings as soon as he had finished
the first round without serving himself. Everyone protested loudly
so that he compromised by taking a long draught of stout for he had
found the carving hot work. Mary Jane settled down quietly to her
supper but Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia were still toddling round the
table, walking on each other’s heels, getting in each
other’s way and giving each other unheeded orders. Mr. Browne
begged of them to sit down and eat their suppers and so did Gabriel
but they said there was time enough, so that, at last, Freddy
Malins stood up and, capturing Aunt Kate, plumped her down on her
chair amid general laughter.


When everyone had been well served Gabriel said, smiling:


“Now, if anyone wants a little more of what vulgar people
call stuffing let him or her speak.”


A chorus of voices invited him to begin his own supper and Lily
came forward with three potatoes which she had reserved for
him.


“Very well,” said Gabriel amiably, as he took
another preparatory draught, “kindly forget my existence,
ladies and gentlemen, for a few minutes.”



He set to his supper and took no part in the conversation with
which the table covered Lily’s removal of the plates. The
subject of talk was the opera company which was then at the Theatre
Royal. Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, the tenor, a dark—
complexioned young man with a smart moustache, praised very highly
the leading contralto of the company but Miss Furlong thought she
had a rather vulgar style of production. Freddy Malins said there
was a Negro chieftain singing in the second part of the Gaiety
pantomime who had one of the finest tenor voices he had ever
heard.


“Have you heard him?” he asked Mr. Bartell
D’Arcy across the table.


“No,” answered Mr. Bartell D’Arcy
carelessly.


“Because,” Freddy Malins explained, “now
I’d be curious to hear your opinion of him. I think he has a
grand voice.”



“It takes Teddy to find out the really good things,”
said Mr. Browne familiarly to the table.


“And why couldn’t he have a voice too?” asked
Freddy Malins sharply. “Is it because he’s only a
black?”


Nobody answered this question and Mary Jane led the table back
to the legitimate opera. One of her pupils had given her a pass for
Mignon. Of course it was very fine, she said, but it made her think
of poor Georgina Burns. Mr. Browne could go back farther still, to
the old Italian companies that used to come to
Dublin—Tietjens, Ilma de Murzka, Campanini, the great
Trebelli, Giuglini, Ravelli, Aramburo. Those were the days, he
said, when there was something like singing to be heard in Dublin.
He told too of how the top gallery of the old Royal used to be
packed night after night, of how one night an Italian tenor had
sung five encores to Let me like a Soldier fall, introducing a high
C every time, and of how the gallery boys would sometimes in their
enthusiasm unyoke the horses from the carriage of some great prima
donna and pull her themselves through the streets to her hotel. Why
did they never play the grand old operas now, he asked, Dinorah,
Lucrezia Borgia? Because they could not get the voices to sing
them: that was why.


“Oh, well,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, “I
presume there are as good singers today as there were
then.”



“Where are they?” asked Mr. Browne defiantly.


“In London, Paris, Milan,” said Mr. Bartell
D’Arcy warmly. “I suppose Caruso, for example, is quite
as good, if not better than any of the men you have
mentioned.”


“Maybe so,” said Mr. Browne. “But I may tell
you I doubt it strongly.”


“O, I’d give anything to hear Caruso sing,”

said Mary Jane.


“For me,” said Aunt Kate, who had been picking a
bone, “there was only one tenor. To please me, I mean. But I
suppose none of you ever heard of him.”


“Who was he, Miss Morkan?” asked Mr. Bartell
D’Arcy politely.


“His name,” said Aunt Kate, “was Parkinson. I
heard him when he was in his prime and I think he had then the
purest tenor voice that was ever put into a man’s
throat.”



“Strange,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy. “I
never even heard of him.”


“Yes, yes, Miss Morkan is right,” said Mr. Browne.
“I remember hearing of old Parkinson but he’s too far
back for me.”


“A beautiful, pure, sweet, mellow English tenor,”
said Aunt Kate with enthusiasm.


Gabriel having finished, the huge pudding was transferred to the
table. The clatter of forks and spoons began again. Gabriel’s
wife served out spoonfuls of the pudding and passed the plates down
the table. Midway down they were held up by Mary Jane, who
replenished them with raspberry or orange jelly or with blancmange
and jam. The pudding was of Aunt Julia’s making and she
received praises for it from all quarters She herself said that it
was not quite brown enough.



“Well, I hope, Miss Morkan,” said Mr. Browne,
“that I’m brown enough for you because, you know,
I’m all brown.”


All the gentlemen, except Gabriel, ate some of the pudding out
of compliment to Aunt Julia. As Gabriel never ate sweets the celery
had been left for him. Freddy Malins also took a stalk of celery
and ate it with his pudding. He had been told that celery was a
capital thing for the blood and he was just then under
doctor’s care. Mrs. Malins, who had been silent all through
the supper, said that her son was going down to Mount Melleray in a
week or so. The table then spoke of Mount Melleray, how bracing the
air was down there, how hospitable the monks were and how they
never asked for a penny-piece from their guests.


“And do you mean to say,” asked Mr. Browne
incredulously, “that a chap can go down there and put up
there as if it were a hotel and live on the fat of the land and
then come away without paying anything?”


“O, most people give some donation to the monastery when
they leave.” said Mary Jane.



“I wish we had an institution like that in our
Church,” said Mr. Browne candidly.


He was astonished to hear that the monks never spoke, got up at
two in the morning and slept in their coffins. He asked what they
did it for.


“That’s the rule of the order,” said Aunt Kate
firmly.


“Yes, but why?” asked Mr. Browne.


Aunt Kate repeated that it was the rule, that was all. Mr.
Browne still seemed not to understand. Freddy Malins explained to
him, as best he could, that the monks were trying to make up for
the sins committed by all the sinners in the outside world. The
explanation was not very clear for Mr. Browne grinned and said:



“I like that idea very much but wouldn’t a
comfortable spring bed do them as well as a coffin?”


“The coffin,” said Mary Jane, “is to remind
them of their last end.”


As the subject had grown lugubrious it was buried in a silence
of the table during which Mrs. Malins could be heard saying to her
neighbour in an indistinct undertone:


“They are very good men, the monks, very pious
men.”


The raisins and almonds and figs and apples and oranges and
chocolates and sweets were now passed about the table and Aunt
Julia invited all the guests to have either port or sherry. At
first Mr. Bartell D’Arcy refused to take either but one of
his neighbours nudged him and whispered something to him upon which
he allowed his glass to be filled. Gradually as the last glasses
were being filled the conversation ceased. A pause followed, broken
only by the noise of the wine and by unsettlings of chairs. The
Misses Morkan, all three, looked down at the tablecloth. Someone
coughed once or twice and then a few gentlemen patted the table
gently as a signal for silence. The silence came and Gabriel pushed
back his chair.


The patting at once grew louder in encouragement and then ceased
altogether. Gabriel leaned his ten trembling fingers on the
tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company. Meeting a row of
upturned faces he raised his eyes to the chandelier. The piano was
playing a waltz tune and he could hear the skirts sweeping against
the drawing-room door. People, perhaps, were standing in the snow
on the quay outside, gazing up at the lighted windows and listening
to the waltz music. The air was pure there. In the distance lay the
park where the trees were weighted with snow. The Wellington
Monument wore a gleaming cap of snow that flashed westward over the
white field of Fifteen Acres.



He began:


“Ladies and Gentlemen,


“It has fallen to my lot this evening, as in years past,
to perform a very pleasing task but a task for which I am afraid my
poor powers as a speaker are all too inadequate.”


“No, no!” said Mr. Browne.


“But, however that may be, I can only ask you tonight to
take the will for the deed and to lend me your attention for a few
moments while I endeavour to express to you in words what my
feelings are on this occasion.


“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not the first time that we
have gathered together under this hospitable roof, around this
hospitable board. It is not the first time that we have been the
recipients—or perhaps, I had better say, the victims—of
the hospitality of certain good ladies.”


He made a circle in the air with his arm and paused. Everyone
laughed or smiled at Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia and Mary Jane who all
turned crimson with pleasure. Gabriel went on more boldly:



“I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our
country has no tradition which does it so much honour and which it
should guard so jealously as that of its hospitality. It is a
tradition that is unique as far as my experience goes (and I have
visited not a few places abroad) among the modern nations. Some
would say, perhaps, that with us it is rather a failing than
anything to be boasted of. But granted even that, it is, to my
mind, a princely failing, and one that I trust will long be
cultivated among us. Of one thing, at least, I am sure. As long as
this one roof shelters the good ladies aforesaid—and I wish
from my heart it may do so for many and many a long year to
come—the tradition of genuine warm-hearted courteous Irish
hospitality, which our forefathers have handed down to us and which
we in turn must hand down to our descendants, is still alive among
us.”


A hearty murmur of assent ran round the table. It shot through
Gabriel’s mind that Miss Ivors was not there and that she had
gone away discourteously: and he said with confidence in
himself:


“Ladies and Gentlemen,


“A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation
actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and
enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it
is misdirected, is, I believe, in the main sincere. But we are
living in a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a
thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new
generation, educated or hypereducated as it is, will lack those
qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which
belonged to an older day. Listening tonight to the names of all
those great singers of the past it seemed to me, I must confess,
that we were living in a less spacious age. Those days might,
without exaggeration, be called spacious days: and if they are gone
beyond recall let us hope, at least, that in gatherings such as
this we shall still speak of them with pride and affection, still
cherish in our hearts the memory of those dead and gone great ones
whose fame the world will not willingly let die.”


“Hear, hear!” said Mr. Browne loudly.


“But yet,” continued Gabriel, his voice falling into
a softer inflection, “there are always in gatherings such as
this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the
past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here
tonight. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad
memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find
the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have
all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and
rightly claim, our strenuous endeavours.



“Therefore, I will not linger on the past. I will not let
any gloomy moralising intrude upon us here tonight. Here we are
gathered together for a brief moment from the bustle and rush of
our everyday routine. We are met here as friends, in the spirit of
good-fellowship, as colleagues, also to a certain extent, in the
true spirit of camaraderie, and as the guests of—what shall I
call them? —the Three Graces of the Dublin musical
world.”


The table burst into applause and laughter at this allusion.
Aunt Julia vainly asked each of her neighbours in turn to tell her
what Gabriel had said.


“He says we are the Three Graces, Aunt Julia,” said
Mary Jane.


Aunt Julia did not understand but she looked up, smiling, at
Gabriel, who continued in the same vein:


“Ladies and Gentlemen,


“I will not attempt to play tonight the part that Paris
played on another occasion. I will not attempt to choose between
them. The task would be an invidious one and one beyond my poor
powers. For when I view them in turn, whether it be our chief
hostess herself, whose good heart, whose too good heart, has become
a byword with all who know her, or her sister, who seems to be
gifted with perennial youth and whose singing must have been a
surprise and a revelation to us all tonight, or, last but not
least, when I consider our youngest hostess, talented, cheerful,
hard-working and the best of nieces, I confess, Ladies and
Gentlemen, that I do not know to which of them I should award the
prize.”


Gabriel glanced down at his aunts and, seeing the large smile on
Aunt Julia’s face and the tears which had risen to Aunt
Kate’s eyes, hastened to his close. He raised his glass of
port gallantly, while every member of the company fingered a glass
expectantly, and said loudly:



“Let us toast them all three together. Let us drink to
their health, wealth, long life, happiness and prosperity and may
they long continue to hold the proud and self-won position which
they hold in their profession and the position of honour and
affection which they hold in our hearts.”


All the guests stood up, glass in hand, and turning towards the
three seated ladies, sang in unison, with Mr. Browne as leader:


For they are jolly gay fellows, For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows, Which nobody can deny.


Aunt Kate was making frank use of her handkerchief and even Aunt
Julia seemed moved. Freddy Malins beat time with his pudding-fork
and the singers turned towards one another, as if in melodious
conference, while they sang with emphasis:


Unless he tells a lie, Unless he tells a lie,


Then, turning once more towards their hostesses, they sang:


For they are jolly gay fellows, For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows, Which nobody can deny.


The acclamation which followed was taken up beyond the door of
the supper-room by many of the other guests and renewed time after
time, Freddy Malins acting as officer with his fork on high.


The piercing morning air came into the hall where they were
standing so that Aunt Kate said:



“Close the door, somebody. Mrs. Malins will get her death
of cold.”


“Browne is out there, Aunt Kate,” said Mary
Jane.


“Browne is everywhere,” said Aunt Kate, lowering her
voice.


Mary Jane laughed at her tone.


“Really,” she said archly, “he is very
attentive.”



“He has been laid on here like the gas,” said Aunt
Kate in the same tone, “all during the Christmas.”


She laughed herself this time good-humouredly and then added
quickly:


“But tell him to come in, Mary Jane, and close the door. I
hope to goodness he didn’t hear me.”


At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in
from the doorstep, laughing as if his heart would break. He was
dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and
collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap. He pointed down the
snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged
whistling was borne in.


“Teddy will have all the cabs in Dublin out,” he
said.


Gabriel advanced from the little pantry behind the office,
struggling into his overcoat and, looking round the hall, said:



“Gretta not down yet?”


“She’s getting on her things, Gabriel,” said
Aunt Kate.


“Who’s playing up there?” asked Gabriel.


“Nobody. They’re all gone.”


“O no, Aunt Kate,” said Mary Jane. “Bartell
D’Arcy and Miss O’Callaghan aren’t gone
yet.”



“Someone is fooling at the piano anyhow,” said
Gabriel.


Mary Jane glanced at Gabriel and Mr. Browne and said with a
shiver:


“It makes me feel cold to look at you two gentlemen
muffled up like that. I wouldn’t like to face your journey
home at this hour.”


“I’d like nothing better this minute,” said
Mr. Browne stoutly, “than a rattling fine walk in the country
or a fast drive with a good spanking goer between the
shafts.”


“We used to have a very good horse and trap at
home,” said Aunt Julia sadly.



“The never-to-be-forgotten Johnny,” said Mary Jane,
laughing.


Aunt Kate and Gabriel laughed too.


“Why, what was wonderful about Johnny?” asked Mr.
Browne.


“The late lamented Patrick Morkan, our grandfather, that
is,” explained Gabriel, “commonly known in his later
years as the old gentleman, was a glue-boiler.”


“O, now, Gabriel,” said Aunt Kate, laughing,

“he had a starch mill.”


“Well, glue or starch,” said Gabriel, “the old
gentleman had a horse by the name of Johnny. And Johnny used to
work in the old gentleman’s mill, walking round and round in
order to drive the mill. That was all very well; but now comes the
tragic part about Johnny. One fine day the old gentleman thought
he’d like to drive out with the quality to a military review
in the park.”


“The Lord have mercy on his soul,” said Aunt Kate
compassionately.


“Amen,” said Gabriel. “So the old gentleman,
as I said, harnessed Johnny and put on his very best tall hat and
his very best stock collar and drove out in grand style from his
ancestral mansion somewhere near Back Lane, I think.”



Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Malins, at Gabriel’s manner
and Aunt Kate said:


“O, now, Gabriel, he didn’t live in Back Lane,
really. Only the mill was there.”


“Out from the mansion of his forefathers,” continued
Gabriel, “he drove with Johnny. And everything went on
beautifully until Johnny came in sight of King Billy’s
statue: and whether he fell in love with the horse King Billy sits
on or whether he thought he was back again in the mill, anyhow he
began to walk round the statue.”


Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid
the laughter of the others.


“Round and round he went,” said Gabriel, “and
the old gentleman, who was a very pompous old gentleman, was highly
indignant. ‘Go on, sir! What do you mean, sir? Johnny!
Johnny! Most extraordinary conduct! Can’t understand the
horse!”



The peal of laughter which followed Gabriel’s imitation of
the incident was interrupted by a resounding knock at the hall
door. Mary Jane ran to open it and let in Freddy Malins. Freddy
Malins, with his hat well back on his head and his shoulders humped
with cold, was puffing and steaming after his exertions.


“I could only get one cab,” he said.


“O, we’ll find another along the quay,” said
Gabriel.


“Yes,” said Aunt Kate. “Better not keep Mrs.
Malins standing in the draught.”



Mrs. Malins was helped down the front steps by her son and Mr.
Browne and, after many manoeuvres, hoisted into the cab. Freddy
Malins clambered in after her and spent a long time settling her on
the seat, Mr. Browne helping him with advice. At last she was
settled comfortably and Freddy Malins invited Mr. Browne into the
cab. There was a good deal of confused talk, and then Mr. Browne
got into the cab. The cabman settled his rug over his knees, and
bent down for the address. The confusion grew greater and the
cabman was directed differently by Freddy Malins and Mr. Browne,
each of whom had his head out through a window of the cab. The
difficulty was to know where to drop Mr. Browne along the route,
and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane helped the discussion from
the doorstep with cross-directions and contradictions and abundance
of laughter. As for Freddy Malins he was speechless with laughter.
He popped his head in and out of the window every moment to the
great danger of his hat, and told his mother how the discussion was
progressing, till at last Mr. Browne shouted to the bewildered
cabman above the din of everybody’s laughter:


“Do you know Trinity College?”


“Yes, sir,” said the cabman.


“Well, drive bang up against Trinity College gates,”
said Mr. Browne, “and then we’ll tell you where to go.
You understand now?”


“Yes, sir,” said the cabman.



“Make like a bird for Trinity College.”


“Right, sir,” said the cabman.


The horse was whipped up and the cab rattled off along the quay
amid a chorus of laughter and adieus.


Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a
dark part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing
near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not
see her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink
panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white.
It was his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to
something. Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his
ear to listen also. But he could hear little save the noise of
laughter and dispute on the front steps, a few chords struck on the
piano and a few notes of a man’s voice singing.


He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air
that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was
grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of
something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs
in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were
a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat
would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the
dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant
Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.


The hall-door was closed; and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary
Jane came down the hall, still laughing.


“Well, isn’t Freddy terrible?” said Mary Jane.

“He’s really terrible.”


Gabriel said nothing but pointed up the stairs towards where his
wife was standing. Now that the hall-door was closed the voice and
the piano could be heard more clearly. Gabriel held up his hand for
them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality
and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of his voice.
The voice, made plaintive by distance and by the singer’s
hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words
expressing grief:


O, the rain falls on my heavy locks And the dew wets my skin, My
babe lies cold...


“O,” exclaimed Mary Jane. “It’s Bartell
D’Arcy singing and he wouldn’t sing all the night. O,
I’ll get him to sing a song before he goes.”



“O, do, Mary Jane,” said Aunt Kate.


Mary Jane brushed past the others and ran to the staircase, but
before she reached it the singing stopped and the piano was closed
abruptly.


“O, what a pity!” she cried. “Is he coming
down, Gretta?”


Gabriel heard his wife answer yes and saw her come down towards
them. A few steps behind her were Mr. Bartell D’Arcy and Miss
O’Callaghan.


“O, Mr. D’Arcy,” cried Mary Jane,

“it’s downright mean of you to break off like that when
we were all in raptures listening to you.”


“I have been at him all the evening,” said Miss
O’Callaghan, “and Mrs. Conroy, too, and he told us he
had a dreadful cold and couldn’t sing.”


“O, Mr. D’Arcy,” said Aunt Kate, “now
that was a great fib to tell.”


“Can’t you see that I’m as hoarse as a
crow?” said Mr. D’Arcy roughly.



He went into the pantry hastily and put on his overcoat. The
others, taken aback by his rude speech, could find nothing to say.
Aunt Kate wrinkled her brows and made signs to the others to drop
the subject. Mr. D’Arcy stood swathing his neck carefully and
frowning.


“It’s the weather,” said Aunt Julia, after a
pause.


“Yes, everybody has colds,” said Aunt Kate readily,
“everybody.”


“They say,” said Mary Jane, “we haven’t
had snow like it for thirty years; and I read this morning in the
newspapers that the snow is general all over Ireland.”



“I love the look of snow,” said Aunt Julia
sadly.


“So do I,” said Miss O’Callaghan. “I
think Christmas is never really Christmas unless we have the snow
on the ground.”


“But poor Mr. D’Arcy doesn’t like the
snow,” said Aunt Kate, smiling.


Mr. D’Arcy came from the pantry, fully swathed and
buttoned, and in a repentant tone told them the history of his
cold. Everyone gave him advice and said it was a great pity and
urged him to be very careful of his throat in the night air.
Gabriel watched his wife, who did not join in the conversation. She
was standing right under the dusty fanlight and the flame of the
gas lit up the rich bronze of her hair, which he had seen her
drying at the fire a few days before. She was in the same attitude
and seemed unaware of the talk about her. At last she turned
towards them and Gabriel saw that there was colour on her cheeks
and that her eyes were shining. A sudden tide of joy went leaping
out of his heart.



“Mr. D’Arcy,” she said, “what is the
name of that song you were singing?”


“It’s called The Lass of Aughrim,” said Mr.
D’Arcy, “but I couldn’t remember it properly.
Why? Do you know it?”


“The Lass of Aughrim,” she repeated. “I
couldn’t think of the name.”



“It’s a very nice air,” said Mary Jane.
“I’m sorry you were not in voice tonight.”


“Now, Mary Jane,” said Aunt Kate, “don’t
annoy Mr. D’Arcy. I won’t have him annoyed.”


Seeing that all were ready to start she shepherded them to the
door, where good-night was said:



“Well, good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks for the pleasant
evening.”


“Good-night, Gabriel. Good-night, Gretta!”


“Good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks ever so much.
Goodnight, Aunt Julia.”


“O, good-night, Gretta, I didn’t see you.”


“Good-night, Mr. D’Arcy. Good-night, Miss
O’Callaghan.”


“Good-night, Miss Morkan.”


“Good-night, again.”



“Good-night, all. Safe home.”


“Good-night. Good night.”


The morning was still dark. A dull, yellow light brooded over
the houses and the river; and the sky seemed to be descending. It
was slushy underfoot; and only streaks and patches of snow lay on
the roofs, on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings.
The lamps were still burning redly in the murky air and, across the
river, the palace of the Four Courts stood out menacingly against
the heavy sky.


She was walking on before him with Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, her
shoes in a brown parcel tucked under one arm and her hands holding
her skirt up from the slush. She had no longer any grace of
attitude, but Gabriel’s eyes were still bright with
happiness. The blood went bounding along his veins; and the
thoughts went rioting through his brain, proud, joyful, tender,
valorous.


She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he
longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and
say something foolish and affectionate into her ear. She seemed to
him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and
then to be alone with her. Moments of their secret life together
burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope envelope was lying
beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand.
Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain
was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness.
They were standing on the crowded platform and he was placing a
ticket inside the warm palm of her glove. He was standing with her
in the cold, looking in through a grated window at a man making
bottles in a roaring furnace. It was very cold. Her face, fragrant
in the cold air, was quite close to his; and suddenly he called out
to the man at the furnace:


“Is the fire hot, sir?”


But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace. It was
just as well. He might have answered rudely.


A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went
coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fire of
stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would
ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to
recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their
dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy.
For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers. Their
children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched all
their souls’ tender fire. In one letter that he had written
to her then he had said: “Why is it that words like these
seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender
enough to be your name?”



Like distant music these words that he had written years before
were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with
her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the
room in the hotel, then they would be alone together. He would call
her softly:


“Gretta!”


Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing.
Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and
look at him....


At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab. He was glad
of its rattling noise as it saved him from conversation. She was
looking out of the window and seemed tired. The others spoke only a
few words, pointing out some building or street. The horse galloped
along wearily under the murky morning sky, dragging his old
rattling box after his heels, and Gabriel was again in a cab with
her, galloping to catch the boat, galloping to their honeymoon.


As the cab drove across O’Connell Bridge Miss
O’Callaghan said:


“They say you never cross O’Connell Bridge without
seeing a white horse.”


“I see a white man this time,” said Gabriel.



“Where?” asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy.


Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow.
Then he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.


“Good-night, Dan,” he said gaily.


When the cab drew up before the hotel, Gabriel jumped out and,
in spite of Mr. Bartell D’Arcy’s protest, paid the
driver. He gave the man a shilling over his fare. The man saluted
and said:


“A prosperous New Year to you, sir.”



“The same to you,” said Gabriel cordially.


She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and
while standing at the curbstone, bidding the others good—
night. She leaned lightly on his arm, as lightly as when she had
danced with him a few hours before. He had felt proud and happy
then, happy that she was his, proud of her grace and wifely
carriage. But now, after the kindling again of so many memories,
the first touch of her body, musical and strange and perfumed, sent
through him a keen pang of lust. Under cover of her silence he
pressed her arm closely to his side; and, as they stood at the
hotel door, he felt that they had escaped from their lives and
duties, escaped from home and friends and run away together with
wild and radiant hearts to a new adventure.


An old man was dozing in a great hooded chair in the hall. He
lit a candle in the office and went before them to the stairs. They
followed him in silence, their feet falling in soft thuds on the
thickly carpeted stairs. She mounted the stairs behind the porter,
her head bowed in the ascent, her frail shoulders curved as with a
burden, her skirt girt tightly about her. He could have flung his
arms about her hips and held her still, for his arms were trembling
with desire to seize her and only the stress of his nails against
the palms of his hands held the wild impulse of his body in check.
The porter halted on the stairs to settle his guttering candle.
They halted, too, on the steps below him. In the silence Gabriel
could hear the falling of the molten wax into the tray and the
thumping of his own heart against his ribs.


The porter led them along a corridor and opened a door. Then he
set his unstable candle down on a toilet-table and asked at what
hour they were to be called in the morning.


“Eight,” said Gabriel.


The porter pointed to the tap of the electric-light and began a
muttered apology, but Gabriel cut him short.



“We don’t want any light. We have light enough from
the street. And I say,” he added, pointing to the candle,
“you might remove that handsome article, like a good
man.”


The porter took up his candle again, but slowly, for he was
surprised by such a novel idea. Then he mumbled good-night and went
out. Gabriel shot the lock to.


A ghastly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from
one window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a
couch and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into
the street in order that his emotion might calm a little. Then he
turned and leaned against a chest of drawers with his back to the
light. She had taken off her hat and cloak and was standing before
a large swinging mirror, unhooking her waist. Gabriel paused for a
few moments, watching her, and then said:


“Gretta!”


She turned away from the mirror slowly and walked along the
shaft of light towards him. Her face looked so serious and weary
that the words would not pass Gabriel’s lips. No, it was not
the moment yet.


“You looked tired,” he said.



“I am a little,” she answered.


“You don’t feel ill or weak?”


“No, tired: that’s all.”


She went on to the window and stood there, looking out. Gabriel
waited again and then, fearing that diffidence was about to conquer
him, he said abruptly:


“By the way, Gretta!”


“What is it?”



“You know that poor fellow Malins?” he said
quickly.


“Yes. What about him?”


“Well, poor fellow, he’s a decent sort of chap,
after all,” continued Gabriel in a false voice. “He
gave me back that sovereign I lent him, and I didn’t expect
it, really. It’s a pity he wouldn’t keep away from that
Browne, because he’s not a bad fellow, really.”


He was trembling now with annoyance. Why did she seem so
abstracted? He did not know how he could begin. Was she annoyed,
too, about something? If she would only turn to him or come to him
of her own accord! To take her as she was would be brutal. No, he
must see some ardour in her eyes first. He longed to be master of
her strange mood.



“When did you lend him the pound?” she asked, after
a pause.


Gabriel strove to restrain himself from breaking out into brutal
language about the sottish Malins and his pound. He longed to cry
to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster
her. But he said:


“O, at Christmas, when he opened that little
Christmas-card shop in Henry Street.”


He was in such a fever of rage and desire that he did not hear
her come from the window. She stood before him for an instant,
looking at him strangely. Then, suddenly raising herself on tiptoe
and resting her hands lightly on his shoulders, she kissed him.


“You are a very generous person, Gabriel,” she
said.


Gabriel, trembling with delight at her sudden kiss and at the
quaintness of her phrase, put his hands on her hair and began
smoothing it back, scarcely touching it with his fingers. The
washing had made it fine and brilliant. His heart was brimming over
with happiness. Just when he was wishing for it she had come to him
of her own accord. Perhaps her thoughts had been running with his.
Perhaps she had felt the impetuous desire that was in him, and then
the yielding mood had come upon her. Now that she had fallen to him
so easily, he wondered why he had been so diffident.


He stood, holding her head between his hands. Then, slipping one
arm swiftly about her body and drawing her towards him, he said
softly:



“Gretta, dear, what are you thinking about?”


She did not answer nor yield wholly to his arm. He said again,
softly:


“Tell me what it is, Gretta. I think I know what is the
matter. Do I know?”


She did not answer at once. Then she said in an outburst of
tears:


“O, I am thinking about that song, The Lass of
Aughrim.”


She broke loose from him and ran to the bed and, throwing her
arms across the bed-rail, hid her face. Gabriel stood stockstill
for a moment in astonishment and then followed her. As he passed in
the way of the cheval-glass he caught sight of himself in full
length, his broad, well-filled shirt-front, the face whose
expression always puzzled him when he saw it in a mirror, and his
glimmering gilt-rimmed eyeglasses. He halted a few paces from her
and said:


“What about the song? Why does that make you
cry?”


She raised her head from her arms and dried her eyes with the
back of her hand like a child. A kinder note than he had intended
went into his voice.


“Why, Gretta?” he asked.



“I am thinking about a person long ago who used to sing
that song.”


“And who was the person long ago?” asked Gabriel,
smiling.


“It was a person I used to know in Galway when I was
living with my grandmother,” she said.


The smile passed away from Gabriel’s face. A dull anger
began to gather again at the back of his mind and the dull fires of
his lust began to glow angrily in his veins.


“Someone you were in love with?” he asked
ironically.



“It was a young boy I used to know,” she answered,
“named Michael Furey. He used to sing that song, The Lass of
Aughrim. He was very delicate.”


Gabriel was silent. He did not wish her to think that he was
interested in this delicate boy.


“I can see him so plainly,” she said, after a
moment. “Such eyes as he had: big, dark eyes! And such an
expression in them—an expression!”


“O, then, you are in love with him?” said
Gabriel.



“I used to go out walking with him,” she said,
“when I was in Galway.”


A thought flew across Gabriel’s mind.


“Perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that
Ivors girl?” he said coldly.


She looked at him and asked in surprise:


“What for?”


Her eyes made Gabriel feel awkward. He shrugged his shoulders
and said:



“How do I know? To see him, perhaps.”


She looked away from him along the shaft of light towards the
window in silence.


“He is dead,” she said at length. “He died
when he was only seventeen. Isn’t it a terrible thing to die
so young as that?”


“What was he?” asked Gabriel, still ironically.


“He was in the gasworks,” she said.



Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the
evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks.
While he had been full of memories of their secret life together,
full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him
in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own
person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting
as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning
sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own
clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse
of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the
light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his
forehead.


He tried to keep up his tone of cold interrogation, but his
voice when he spoke was humble and indifferent.


“I suppose you were in love with this Michael Furey,
Gretta,” he said.


“I was great with him at that time,” she said.


Her voice was veiled and sad. Gabriel, feeling now how vain it
would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed, caressed one
of her hands and said, also sadly:


“And what did he die of so young, Gretta? Consumption, was
it?”


“I think he died for me,” she answered.



A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer, as if, at that
hour when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive
being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its
vague world. But he shook himself free of it with an effort of
reason and continued to caress her hand. He did not question her
again, for he felt that she would tell him of herself. Her hand was
warm and moist: it did not respond to his touch, but he continued
to caress it just as he had caressed her first letter to him that
spring morning.


“It was in the winter,” she said, “about the
beginning of the winter when I was going to leave my
grandmother’s and come up here to the convent. And he was ill
at the time in his lodgings in Galway and wouldn’t be let
out, and his people in Oughterard were written to. He was in
decline, they said, or something like that. I never knew
rightly.”


She paused for a moment and sighed.


“Poor fellow,” she said. “He was very fond of
me and he was such a gentle boy. We used to go out together,
walking, you know, Gabriel, like the way they do in the country. He
was going to study singing only for his health. He had a very good
voice, poor Michael Furey.”


“Well; and then?” asked Gabriel.



“And then when it came to the time for me to leave Galway
and come up to the convent he was much worse and I wouldn’t
be let see him so I wrote him a letter saying I was going up to
Dublin and would be back in the summer, and hoping he would be
better then.”


She paused for a moment to get her voice under control, and then
went on:


“Then the night before I left, I was in my
grandmother’s house in Nuns’ Island, packing up, and I
heard gravel thrown up against the window. The window was so wet I
couldn’t see, so I ran downstairs as I was and slipped out
the back into the garden and there was the poor fellow at the end
of the garden, shivering.”


“And did you not tell him to go back?” asked
Gabriel.


“I implored of him to go home at once and told him he
would get his death in the rain. But he said he did not want to
live. I can see his eyes as well as well! He was standing at the
end of the wall where there was a tree.”



“And did he go home?” asked Gabriel.


“Yes, he went home. And when I was only a week in the
convent he died and he was buried in Oughterard, where his people
came from. O, the day I heard that, that he was dead!”


She stopped, choking with sobs, and, overcome by emotion, flung
herself face downward on the bed, sobbing in the quilt. Gabriel
held her hand for a moment longer, irresolutely, and then, shy of
intruding on her grief, let it fall gently and walked quietly to
the window.


She was fast asleep.


Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments
unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to
her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a
man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how
poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her
while she slept, as though he and she had never lived together as
man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her
hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that
time of her first girlish beauty, a strange, friendly pity for her
entered his soul. He did not like to say even to himself that her
face was no longer beautiful, but he knew that it was no longer the
face for which Michael Furey had braved death.


Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to
the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A
petticoat string dangled to the floor. One boot stood upright, its
limp upper fallen down: the fellow of it lay upon its side. He
wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had
it proceeded? From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish
speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making when saying
good-night in the hall, the pleasure of the walk along the river in
the snow. Poor Aunt Julia! She, too, would soon be a shade with the
shade of Patrick Morkan and his horse. He had caught that haggard
look upon her face for a moment when she was singing Arrayed for
the Bridal. Soon, perhaps, he would be sitting in that same
drawing-room, dressed in black, his silk hat on his knees. The
blinds would be drawn down and Aunt Kate would be sitting beside
him, crying and blowing her nose and telling him how Julia had
died. He would cast about in his mind for some words that might
console her, and would find only lame and useless ones. Yes, yes:
that would happen very soon.


The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself
cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One
by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that
other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and
wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him
had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her
lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to
live.



Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt
like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a
feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes
and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young
man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul
had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead.
He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and
flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey
impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one
time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.


A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It
had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and
dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come
for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers
were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on
every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills,
falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly
falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too,
upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael
Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and
headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns.
His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly
through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their
last end, upon all the living and the dead.