James Joyce: The Complete Collection

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This ebook is a collection of the complete works of James Joyce.
It has the seven books published in Joyce’s lifetime, and three sections of posthumously published writings: the poems, the essays, and additional prose.
To make navigation through the collection easier, each book/section has its own table of contents. Links at the end of every text/chapter bring you back to the respective table of contents. At the end of each of these tables a link leads to the main contents table.
Contents:
1. DUBLINERS
2. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
3. CHAMBER MUSIC & POMES PENYEACH
4. EXILES
5. ULYSSES
6. FINNEGANS WAKE
7. POEMS
8. ESSAYS
9. OTHER WRITINGS
10. LETTERS

Sujets

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Publié par
Date de parution 07 novembre 2017
Nombre de visites sur la page 6
EAN13 9789897781865
Langue English

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JAMES
JOYCE




T H E
C O M P L E T E
W O R K S


cc oo nn tt ee nn tt ss —— jj oo yy cc ee

Chamber Music (1907)
Dubliners (1914)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
Exiles (1918)
Ulysses (1922)
Pomes Penyeach (1927)
Finnegans Wake (1939)

Poems
Critical Writings
Other Writings
LettersC H A M B E R
M U S I C

by
J A M E S J O Y C E









published May 1907
by Elkin Mathews, Londonc o n t e n t s — c h a m b e r


I II III IV V
VI VII VIII IX X
XI XII XIII XIV
XV XVI XVII XVIII
XIX XX XXI
XXII XXIII XXIV
XXV XXVI XXVII
XXVIII XXIX XXX
XXXI XXXII XXXIII
XXXIV XXXV XXXVI
® [The text follows the first edition: Elkin Mathews, London 1907.]I
Strings in the earth and air
Make music sweet;
Strings by the river where
The willows meet.
There’s music along the river
For Love wanders there,
Pale flowers on his mantle,
Dark leaves on his hair.
All softly playing,
With head to the music bent,
And fingers straying
Upon an instrument.II
The twilight turns from amethyst
To deep and deeper blue,
The lamp fills with a pale green glow
The trees of the avenue.
The old piano plays an air,
Sedate and slow and gay;
She bends upon the yellow keys,
Her head inclines this way.
Shy thoughts and grave wide eyes and hands
That wander as they list—
The twilight turns to darker blue
With lights of amethyst.III
At that hour when all things have repose,
O lonely watcher of the skies,
Do you hear the night wind and the sighs
Of harps playing unto Love to unclose
The pale gates of sunrise?
When all things repose do you alone
Awake to hear the sweet harps play
To Love before him on his way,
And the night wind answering in antiphon
Till night is overgone?
Play on, invisible harps, unto Love,
Whose way in heaven is aglow
At that hour when soft lights come and go,
Soft sweet music in the air above
And in the earth below.IV
When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.
O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling,
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lover’s chant,
’Tis I that am your visitant.V
Lean out of the window,
Goldenhair,
I heard you singing
A merry air.
My book was closed;
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.
I have left my book,
I have left my room,
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom.
Singing and singing
A merry air,
Lean out of the window,
Goldenhair.VI
I would in that sweet bosom be
(O sweet it is and fair it is!)
Where no rude wind might visit me.
Because of sad austerities
I would in that sweet bosom be.
I would be ever in that heart
(O soft I knock and soft entreat her!)
Where only peace might be my part.
Austerities were all the sweeter
So I were ever in that heart.VII
My love is in a light attire
Among the apple-trees,
Where the gay winds do most desire
To run in companies.
There, where the gay winds stay to woo
The young leaves as they pass,
My love goes slowly, bending to
Her shadow on the grass;
And where the sky’s a pale blue cup
Over the laughing land,
My love goes lightly, holding up
Her dress with dainty hand.VIII
Who goes amid the green wood
With springtide all adorning her?
Who goes amid the merry green wood
To make it merrier?
Who passes in the sunlight
By ways that know the light footfall?
Who passes in the sweet sunlight
With mien so virginal?
The ways of all the woodland
Gleam with a soft and golden fire—
For whom does all the sunny woodland
Carry so brave attire?
O, it is for my true love
The woods their rich apparel wear—
O, it is for my own true love,
That is so young and fair.IX
Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
Dancing a ring-around in glee
From furrow to furrow, while overhead
The foam flies up to be garlanded,
In silvery arches spanning the air,
Saw you my true love anywhere?
Welladay! Welladay!
For the winds of May!
Love is unhappy when love is away!X
Bright cap and streamers,
He sings in the hollow:
Come follow, come follow,
All you that love.
Leave dreams to the dreamers
That will not after,
That song and laughter
Do nothing move.
With ribbons streaming
He sings the bolder;
In troop at his shoulder
The wild bees hum.
And the time of dreaming
Dreams is over—
As lover to lover,
Sweetheart, I come.XI
Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,
Bid adieu to girlish days,
Happy Love is come to woo
Thee and woo thy girlish ways—
The zone that doth become thee fair,
The snood upon thy yellow hair.
When thou hast heard his name upon
The bugles of the cherubim
Begin thou softly to unzone
Thy girlish bosom unto him
And softly to undo the snood
That is the sign of maidenhood.XII
What counsel has the hooded moon
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Of Love in ancient plenilune,
Glory and stars beneath his feet—
A sage that is but kith and kin
With the comedian Capuchin?
Believe me rather that am wise
In disregard of the divine,
A glory kindles in those eyes
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
No more be tears in moon or mist
For thee, sweet sentimentalist.XIII
Go seek her out all courteously,
And say I come,
Wind of spices whose song is ever
Epithalamium.
O, hurry over the dark lands
And run upon the sea
For seas and lands shall not divide us,
My love and me.
Now, wind, of your good courtesy
I pray you go,
And come into her little garden
And sing at her window;
Singing: The bridal wind is blowing
For Love is at his noon;
And soon will your true love be with you,
Soon, O soon.XIV
My dove, my beautiful one,
Arise, arise!
The night-dew lies
Upon my lips and eyes.
The odorous winds are weaving
A music of sighs:
Arise, arise,
My dove, my beautiful one!
I wait by the cedar tree,
My sister, my love.
White breast of the dove,
My breast shall be your bed.
The pale dew lies
Like a veil on my head.
My fair one, my fair dove,
Arise, arise!XV
From dewy dreams, my soul, arise,
From love’s deep slumber and from death,
For lo! the trees are full of sighs
Whose leaves the morn admonisheth.
Eastward the gradual dawn prevails
Where softly-burning fires appear,
Making to tremble all those veils
Of grey and golden gossamer.
While sweetly, gently, secretly,
The flowery bells of morn are stirred
And the wise choirs of faery
Begin (innumerous!) to be heard.XVI
O cool is the valley now
And there, love, will we go
For many a choir is singing now
Where Love did sometime go.
And hear you not the thrushes calling,
Calling us away?
O cool and pleasant is the valley
And there, love, will we stay.XVII
Because your voice was at my side
I gave him pain,
Because within my hand I held
Your hand again.
There is no word nor any sign
Can make amend—
He is a stranger to me now
Who was my friend.XVIII
O sweetheart, hear you
Your lover’s tale;
A man shall have sorrow
When friends him fail.
For he shall know then
Friends be untrue
And a little ashes
Their words come to.
But one unto him
Will softly move
And softly woo him
In ways of love.
His hand is under
Her smooth round breast;
So he who has sorrow
Shall have rest.XIX
Be not sad because all men
Prefer a lying clamour before you:
Sweetheart, be at peace again—
Can they dishonour you?
They are sadder than all tears;
Their lives ascend as a continual sigh.
Proudly answer to their tears:
As they deny, deny.XX
In the dark pine-wood
I would we lay,
In deep cool shadow
At noon of day.
How sweet to lie there,
Sweet to kiss,
Where the great pine-forest
Enaisled is!
Thy kiss descending
Sweeter were
With a soft tumult
Of thy hair.
O, unto the pine-wood
At noon of day
Come with me now,
Sweet love, away.XXI
He who hath glory lost, nor hath
Found any soul to fellow his,
Among his foes in scorn and wrath
Holding to ancient nobleness,
That high unconsortable one—
His love is his companion.XXII
Of that so sweet imprisonment
My soul, dearest, is fain—
Soft arms that woo me to relent
And woo me to detain.
Ah, could they ever hold me there
Gladly were I a prisoner!
Dearest, through interwoven arms
By love made tremulous,
That night allures me where alarms
Nowise may trouble us;
But sleep to dreamier sleep be wed
Where soul with soul lies prisoned.XXIII
This heart that flutters near my heart
My hope and all my riches is,
Unhappy when we draw apart
And happy between kiss and kiss;
My hope and all my riches—yes!—
And all my happiness.
For there, as in some mossy nest
The wrens will divers treasures keep,
I laid those treasures I possessed
Ere that mine eyes had learned to weep.
Shall we not be as wise as they
Though love live but a day?XXIV
Silently she’s combing,
Combing her long hair,
Silently and graciously,
With many a pretty air.
The sun is in the willow leaves
And on the dappled grass,
And still she’s combing her long hair
Before the looking-glass.
I pray you, cease to comb out,
Comb out your long hair,
For I have heard of witchery
Under a pretty air,
That makes as one thing to the lover
Staying and going hence,
All fair, with many a pretty air
And many a negligence.XXV
Lightly come or lightly go:
Though thy heart presage thee woe,
Vales and many a wasted sun,
Oread let thy laughter run
Till the irreverent mountain air
Ripple all thy flying hair.
Lightly, lightly—ever so:
Clouds that wrap the vales below
At the hour of evenstar
Lowliest attendants are;
Love and laughter song-confessed
When the heart is heaviest.XXVI
Thou leanest to the shell of night,
Dear lady, a divining ear.
In that soft choiring of delight
What sound hath made thy heart to fear?
Seemed it of rivers rushing forth
From the grey deserts of the north?
That mood of thine, O timorous,
Is his, if thou but scan it well,
Who a mad tale bequeaths to us
At ghosting hour conjurable—
And all for some strange name he read
In Purchas or in Holinshed.XXVII
Though I thy Mithridates were,
Framed to defy the poison-dart,
Yet must thou fold me unaware
To know the rapture of thy heart,
And I but render and confess
The malice of thy tenderness.
For elegant and antique phrase,
Dearest, my lips wax all too wise;
Nor have I known a love whose praise
Our piping poets solemnize,
Neither a love where may not be
Ever so little falsity.XXVIII
Gentle lady, do not sing
Sad songs about the end of love;
Lay aside sadness and sing
How love that passes is enough.
Sing about the long deep sleep
Of lovers that are dead, and how
In the grave all love shall sleep:
Love is aweary now.XXIX
Dear heart, why will you use me so?
Dear eyes that gently me upbraid,
Still are you beautiful—but O,
How is your beauty raimented!
Through the clear mirror of your eyes,
Through the soft sigh of kiss to kiss,
Desolate winds assail with cries
The shadowy garden where love is.
And soon shall love dissolved be
When over us the wild winds blow—
But you, dear love, too dear to me,
Alas! why will you use me so?XXX
Love came to us in time gone by
When one at twilight shyly played
And one in fear was standing nigh—
For Love at first is all afraid.
We were grave lovers. Love is past
That had his sweet hours many a one;
Welcome to us now at the last
The ways that we shall go upon.XXXI
O, it was out by Donnycarney
When the bat flew from tree to tree
My love and I did walk together;
And sweet were the words she said to me.
Along with us the summer wind
Went murmuring—O, happily!—
But softer than the breath of summer
Was the kiss she gave to me.XXXII
Rain has fallen all the day.
O come among the laden trees:
The leaves lie thick upon the way
Of memories.
Staying a little by the way
Of memories shall we depart.
Come, my beloved, where I may
Speak to your heart.XXXIII
Now, O now, in this brown land
Where Love did so sweet music make
We two shall wander, hand in hand,
Forbearing for old friendship’ sake,
Nor grieve because our love was gay
Which now is ended in this way.
A rogue in red and yellow dress
Is knocking, knocking at the tree;
And all around our loneliness
The wind is whistling merrily.
The leaves—they do not sigh at all
When the year takes them in the fall.
Now, O now, we hear no more
The vilanelle and roundelay!
Yet will we kiss, sweetheart, before
We take sad leave at close of day.
Grieve not, sweetheart, for anything—
The year, the year is gathering.XXXIV
Sleep now, O sleep now,
O you unquiet heart!
A voice crying “Sleep now”
Is heard in my heart.
The voice of the winter
Is heard at the door.
O sleep, for the winter
Is crying “Sleep no more.”
My kiss will give peace now
And quiet to your heart—
Sleep on in peace now,
O you unquiet heart!XXXV
All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is, when going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the waters’
Monotone.
The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.XXXVI
I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.
They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.
They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?
® D U B L I N E R S


by
J A M E S J O Y C E










published June 15, 1914
by Grant Richards Ltd., Londonc o n t e n t s — d u b l i n


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
® [The text follows the Viking Press edition, New York 1969, Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz, eds.]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 of mutton, he
added to my aunt.
—No, no, not for me, said old Cotter.
My aunt brought the dish from the safe and laid 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 minds are so impressionable. Whenchildren 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 door-knocker with ribbon. Two poor women and a
telegram boy were reading the card pinned on the crape. I also approached and read:
July 1st, 1895
The Rev. James Flynn (formerly of S. Catherine’s Church, Meath Street), aged sixty-five
years.
R.I.P.
The reading of the card persuaded me that he was dead and I was disturbed to find myself at
check. Had he not been dead I would have gone into the little dark room behind the shop to
find him sitting in his arm-chair by the fire, nearly smothered in his great-coat. Perhaps my
aunt would have given me a packet of High Toast for him and this present would have roused
him from his stupefied doze. It was always I who emptied the packet into his black snuff-box
for his hands trembled too much to allow him to do this without spilling half the snuff about
the floor. Even as he raised his large trembling hand to his nose little clouds of smoke
dribbled through his fingers over the front of his coat. It may have been these constant
showers of snuff which gave his ancient priestly garments their green faded look for the red
handkerchief, blackened, as it always was, with the snuff-stains of a week, with which he tried
to brush away the fallen grains, was quite inefficacious.
I wished to go in and look at him but I had not the courage to knock. I walked away slowly
along the sunny side of the street, reading all the theatrical advertisements in the
shopwindows as I went. I found it strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood
and I felt even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed
from something by his death. I wondered at this for, as my uncle had said the night before, he
had taught me a great deal. He had studied in the Irish college in Rome and he had taught me
to pronounce Latin properly. He had told me stories about the catacombs and about
Napoleon Bonaparte, and he had explained to me the meaning of the different ceremonies of
the Mass and of the different vestments worn by the priest. Sometimes he had amused himself
by putting difficult questions to me, asking me what one should do in certain circumstances
or whether such and such sins were mortal or venial or only imperfections. His questions
showed me how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which I had
always regarded as the simplest acts. The duties of the priest towards the Eucharist and
towards the secrecy of the confessional seemed so grave to me that I wondered how anybody
had ever found in himself the courage to undertake them; and I was not surprised when he
told me that the fathers of the Church had written books as thick as the Post Office Directory
and as closely printed as the law notices in the newspaper, elucidating all these intricate
questions. Often when I thought of this I could make no answer or only a very foolish and
halting one upon which he used to smile and nod his head twice or thrice. Sometimes he used
to put me through the responses of the Mass which he had made me learn by heart; and, as Ipattered, he used to smile pensively and nod his head, now and then pushing huge pinches of
snuff up each nostril alternately. When he smiled he used to uncover his big discoloured teeth
and let his tongue lie upon his lower lip—a habit which had made me feel uneasy in the
beginning of our acquaintance before I knew him well.
As I walked along in the sun I remembered old Cotter’s words and tried to remember what
had happened afterwards in the dream. I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains
and a swinging lamp of antique fashion. I felt that I had been very far away, in some land
where the customs were strange—in Persia, I thought.... But I could not remember the end of
the dream.
In the evening my aunt took me with her to visit the house of mourning. It was after sunset;
but the window-panes of the houses that looked to the west reflected the tawny gold of a great
bank of clouds. Nannie received us in the hall; and, as it would have been unseemly to have
shouted at her, my aunt shook hands with her for all. The old woman pointed upwards
interrogatively and, on my aunt’s nodding, proceeded to toil up the narrow staircase before
us, her bowed head being scarcely above the level of the banister-rail. At the first landing she
stopped and beckoned us forward encouragingly towards the open door of the dead-room. My
aunt went in and the old woman, seeing that I hesitated to enter, began to beckon to me again
repeatedly with her hand.
I went in on tiptoe. The room through the lace end of the blind was suffused with dusky
golden light amid which the candles looked like pale thin flames. He had been coffined.
Nannie gave the lead and we three knelt down at the foot of the bed. I pretended to pray but I
could not gather my thoughts because the old woman’s mutterings distracted me. I noticed
how clumsily her skirt was hooked at the back and how the heels of her cloth boots were
trodden down all to one side. The fancy came to me that the old priest was smiling as he lay
there in his coffin.
But no. When we rose and went up to the head of the bed I saw that he was not smiling.
There he lay, solemn and copious, vested as for the altar, his large hands loosely retaining a
chalice. His face was very truculent, grey and massive, with black cavernous nostrils and
circled by a scanty white fur. There was a heavy odour in the room—the flowers.
We blessed ourselves and came away. In the little room downstairs we found Eliza seated in
his arm-chair in state. I groped my way towards my usual chair in the corner while Nannie
went to the sideboard and brought out a decanter of sherry and some wine-glasses. She set
these on the table and invited us to take a little glass of wine. Then, at her sister’s bidding, she
poured 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
wineglass before sipping a little.
—Did he ... peacefully? she asked.
—O, 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 have done at all. It was him brought us all them flowers and them two candlesticks out of
the chapel and wrote out the notice for the Freeman’s General and took charge of all the papers
for the cemetery and poor James’s insurance.
—Wasn’t that good of him? said my aunt.
Eliza closed her eyes and shook her head slowly.
—Ah, there’s no friends like the old friends, she said, when all is said and done, no friends
that a body can trust.
—Indeed, that’s true, said my aunt. And I’m sure now that he’s gone to his eternal reward
he won’t forget you and all your kindness to him.
—Ah, poor James! said Eliza. He was no great trouble to us. You wouldn’t hear him in the
house any more than now. Still, I know he’s gone and all to that....
—It’s when it’s all over that you’ll miss him, said my aunt.
—I know that, said Eliza. I won’t be bringing him in his cup of beef-tea any more, nor you,
ma’am, sending him his snuff. Ah, poor James!
She stopped, as if she were communing with the past and then said 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 corner. 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 asight 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 scribbler that writes these things for a drink. I’m
surprised at boys like you, educated, reading such stuff. I could understand it if you were ...
National School boys. Now, Dillon, I advise you strongly, get at your work or ...
This rebuke during the sober hours of school paled much of the glory of the Wild West for
me and the confused puffy face of Leo Dillon awakened one of my consciences. But when the
restraining influence of the school was at a distance I began to hunger again for wild
sensations, for the escape which those chronicles of disorder alone seemed to offer me. The
mimic warfare of the evening became at last as wearisome to me as the routine of school in
the morning because I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real adventures, I
reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.
The summer holidays were near at hand when I made up my mind to break out of the
weariness of school-life for one day at least. With Leo Dillon and a boy named Mahony I
planned a day’s miching. Each of us saved up sixpence. We were to meet at ten in the morning
on the Canal Bridge. Mahony’s big sister was to write an excuse for him and Leo Dillon was to
tell his brother to say he was sick. We arranged to go along the Wharf Road until we came to
the ships, then to cross in the ferryboat and walk out to see the Pigeon House. Leo Dillon was
afraid we might meet Father Butler or someone out of the college; but Mahony asked, very
sensibly, what would Father Butler be doing out at the Pigeon House. We were reassured: and Ibrought 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 to-morrow, 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 Bunsen Burner. We waited on for a quarter of an hour more but still there was no
sign of Leo Dillon. Mahony, at last, jumped down and said:
—Come along. I knew Fatty’d funk it.
—And his sixpence...? I said.
—That’s forfeit, said Mahony. And so much the better for us—a bob and a tanner instead of
a bob.
We walked along the North Strand Road till we came to the Vitriol Works and then turned
to the right along the Wharf Road. Mahony began to play the Indian as soon as we were out of
public sight. He chased a crowd of ragged girls, brandishing his unloaded catapult and, when
two ragged boys began, out of chivalry, to fling stones at us, he proposed that we should
charge them. I objected that the boys were too small, and so we walked on, the ragged troop
screaming after us: Swaddlers! Swaddlers! thinking that we were Protestants because Mahony,
who was dark-complexioned, wore the silver badge of a cricket club in his cap. When we came
to the Smoothing Iron we arranged a siege; but it was a failure because you must have at least
three. We revenged ourselves on Leo Dillon by saying what a funk he was and guessing how
many he would get at three o’clock from Mr Ryan.
We came then near the river. We spent a long time walking about the noisy streets flanked
by high stone walls, watching the working of cranes and engines and often being shouted at
for our immobility by the drivers of groaning carts. It was noon when we reached the quays
and, as all the labourers seemed to be eating their lunches, we bought two big currant buns
and sat down to eat them on some metal piping beside the river. We pleased ourselves with
the spectacle of Dublin’s commerce—the barges signalled from far away by their curls of
woolly smoke, the brown fishing fleet beyond Ringsend, the big white sailing-vessel which was
being discharged on the opposite quay. Mahony said it would be right skit to run away to sea
on one of those big ships and even I, looking at the high masts, saw, or imagined, the
geography which had been scantily dosed to me at school gradually taking substance under
my eyes. School and home seemed to recede from us and their influences upon us seemed to
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 three-master 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 greyand even black. The only sailor whose eyes could have been called green was a tall man who
amused the crowd on the quay by calling out cheerfully every time the planks fell:
—All right! All right!
When we were tired of this sight we wandered slowly into Ringsend. The day had grown
sultry, and in the windows of the grocers’ shops musty biscuits lay bleaching. We bought
some biscuits and chocolate which we ate sedulously as we wandered through the squalid
streets where the families of the fishermen live. We could find no dairy and so we went into a
huckster’s shop and bought a bottle of raspberry lemonade each. Refreshed by this, Mahony
chased a cat down a lane, but the cat escaped into a wide field. We both felt rather tired and
when we reached the field we made at once for a sloping bank over the ridge of which we
could see the Dodder.
It was too late and we were too tired to carry out our project of visiting the Pigeon House. We
had to be home before four o’clock lest our adventure should be discovered. Mahony looked
regretfully at his catapult and I had to suggest going home by train before he regained any
cheerfulness. The sun went in behind some clouds and left us to our jaded thoughts and the
crumbs of our provisions.
There was nobody but ourselves in the field. When we had lain on the bank for some time
without speaking I saw a man approaching from the far end of the field. I watched him lazily
as I chewed one of those green stems on which girls tell fortunes. He came along by the bank
slowly. He walked with one hand upon his hip and in the other hand he held a stick with
which he tapped the turf lightly. He was shabbily dressed in a suit of greenish-black and wore
what we used to call a jerry hat with a high crown. He seemed to be fairly old for his
moustache was ashen-grey. When he passed at our feet he glanced up at us quickly and then
continued his way. We followed him with our eyes and saw that when he had gone on for
perhaps fifty paces he turned about and began to retrace his steps. He walked towards us very
slowly, always tapping the ground with his stick, so slowly that I thought he was looking for
something in the grass.
He stopped when he came level with us and bade us good-day. We answered him and he sat
down beside us on the slope slowly and with great care. He began to talk of the weather, saying
that it would be a very hot summer and adding that the seasons had changed greatly since he
was a boy—a long time ago. He said that the happiest time of one’s life was undoubtedly one’s
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 had I. I answered that I had none. He did not
believe me and said he was sure I must have one. I was silent.
—Tell us, said Mahony pertly to the man, how many have you yourself?
The man smiled as before and said that when he was our age he had lots 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 tous 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
bottlegreen 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
Communicant and The Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last best because its leaves were yellow.
The wild garden behind the house contained a central apple-tree and a few straggling bushes
under one of which I found the late tenant’s rusty bicycle-pump. He had been a very charitable
priest; in his will he had left all his money to institutions and the furniture of his house to his
sister.
When the short days of winter came dusk fell before we had well eaten our dinners. When
we met in the street the houses had grown sombre. The space of sky above us was the colour of
ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns. The cold
air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed. Our shouts echoed in the silent street. The
career of our play brought us through the dark muddy lanes behind the houses where we ran
the gantlet 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. Butmy 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 forget 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 houses and
over the twinkling river. At Westland Row Station a crowd of people pressed to the carriage
doors; but the porters moved them back, saying that it was a special train for the bazaar. I
remained alone in the bare carriage. In a few minutes the train drew up beside an improvised
wooden platform. I passed out on to the road and saw by the lighted dial of a clock that it was
ten minutes to ten. In front of me was a large building which displayed the magical name.
I could not find any sixpenny entrance and, fearing that the bazaar would be closed, I
passed in quickly through a turnstile, handing a shilling to a weary-looking man. I found
myself in a big hall girdled at half its height by a gallery. Nearly all the stalls were closed and
the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognised a silence like that which pervades a
church after a service. I walked into the centre of the bazaar timidly. A few people were
gathered about the stalls which were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Café
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.
—O, there’s a ... fib!
Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone
of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I
looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark
entrance to the stall and murmured:
—No, thank you.
The young lady changed the position of one of the vases and went back to the two young
men. They began to talk of the same subject. Once or twice the young lady glanced at me over
her shoulder.
I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her
wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the
bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call
from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now
completely dark.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my
eyes burned with anguish and anger. ® 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. Of course she had to work hard both in the house and at
business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away
with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by advertisement.
Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were
people 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 now she had nobody to protect
her. Ernest was dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was nearly always
down somewhere in the country. Besides, the invariable squabble for money on Saturday
nights had begun to weary her unspeakably. She always gave her entire wages—seven shillings
—and Harry always sent up what he could but the trouble was to get any money from her
father. He said she used to squander the money, that she had no head, that he wasn’t going togive her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets, and much more, for he was usually
fairly bad of a Saturday night. In the end he would give her the money and ask her had she any
intention of buying Sunday’s dinner. Then she had to rush out as quickly as she could and do
her marketing, holding her black leather purse tightly in her hand as she elbowed her way
through the crowds and returning home late under her load of provisions. She had hard work
to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her
charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was hard work—a hard life—
but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.
She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted.
She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos
Ayres where he had a home waiting for her. How well she remembered the first time she had
seen him; he was lodging in a house on the main road where she used to visit. It seemed a few
weeks ago. He was standing at the gate, his peaked cap pushed back on his head and his hair
tumbled forward over a face of bronze. Then they had come to know each other. He used to
meet her outside the Stores every evening and see her home. He took her to see The Bohemian
Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part of the theatre with him. He was
awfully fond of music and sang a little. People knew that they were courting and, when he
sang about the lass that loves a sailor, she always felt pleasantly confused. He used to call her
Poppens out of fun. First of all it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow and then she
had begun to like him. He had tales of distant countries. He had started as a deck boy at a
pound a month on a ship of the Allan Line going out to Canada. He told her the names of the
ships he had been on and the names of the different services. He had sailed through the
Straits of Magellan and he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians. He had fallen on his
feet in Buenos Ayres, he said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday. Of
course, her father had found out the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say to
him.
—I know these sailor chaps, he said.
One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that she had to meet her 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 mother’s
bonnet to make the children laugh.
Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window, leaning her head against
the window curtain, inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could
hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to
remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as
she could. She remembered the last night of her mother’s illness; she was again in the close
dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The
organ-player had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her father
strutting back into the sickroom saying:
—Damned Italians! coming over here!
As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother’s life laid its spell on the very quick of her
being—that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness. She trembled as she
heard again her mother’s voice saying constantly with foolish insistence:
—Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!
She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her.
He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy?
She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would
save 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, to-morrow 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 round 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 Ségouin, the owner of the car; André Rivière, a young electrician
of Canadian birth; a huge Hungarian named Villona and a neatly groomed young man
named Doyle. Ségouin was in good humour because he had unexpectedly received some
orders in advance (he was about to start a motor establishment in Paris) and Rivière 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 Ségouin. 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 teeth 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 ofhis friends that day in the company of these Continentals. At the control Ségouin 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. Ségouin,
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 Ségouin 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 Ségouin 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 Ségouin 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 Ségouin’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
unpurchasable. 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. Ségouin, Jimmy decided, had a very refined taste. The
party was increased by a young Englishman named Routh whom Jimmy had seen with
Ségouin 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. Rivière, 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 Ségouin 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 Ségouin’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.
—André.
—It’s Farley!
A torrent of talk followed. Farley was an American. No one knew very well what the talk was
about. Villona and Rivière 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
ticketcollector 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! Hohé, 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 beautiful!
There was a yacht piano in the cabin. Villona played a waltz for Farley and Rivière, Farley
acting as cavalier and Rivière 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’ 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 Ségouin. 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. One of them was just bringing a
long monologue to a close. The other, who walked on the verge of the path and was at times
obliged to step on to the road, owing to his companion’s rudeness, wore an amused listening
face. He was squat and ruddy. A yachting cap was shoved far back from his forehead and the
narrative to which he listened made constant waves of expression break forth over his face
from the corners of his nose and eyes and mouth. Little jets of wheezing laughter followed
one another out of his convulsed body. His eyes, twinkling with cunning enjoyment, glanced
at every moment towards his companion’s face. Once or twice he rearranged the light
waterproof which he had slung over one shoulder in toreador fashion. His breeches, his white
rubber shoes and his jauntily slung waterproof expressed youth. But his figure fell into
rotundity at the waist, his hair was scant and grey and his face, when the waves of expression
had passed over it, had a ravaged look.
When he was quite sure that the narrative had ended he laughed noiselessly for fully half a
minute. Then he said:
—Well! ... That takes the biscuit!
His voice seemed winnowed of vigour; and to enforce his words he added with humour:
—That takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call it, recherché 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 went out
to Donnybrook and I brought her into a field there. She told me she used to go with a
dairyman.... It was fine, man. Cigarettes every night she’d bring me and paying the tram out
and back. And one night she brought me two bloody fine cigars—O, the real cheese, you
know, that the old fellow used to smoke.... I was afraid, man, she’d get in the family way. But
she’s up to the dodge.
—Maybe she thinks you’ll marry her, said Lenehan.
—I told her I was out of a job, said Corley. I told her I was in Pim’s. She doesn’t know my
name. I was too hairy to tell her that. But she thinks I’m a bit of class, you know.
Lenehan laughed again, noiselessly.
—Of all the good ones ever I heard, he said, that emphatically takes the biscuit.
Corley’s stride acknowledged the compliment. The swing of his burly body made his friendexecute a few light skips from the path to the roadway and back again. Corley was the son of
an inspector of police and he had inherited his father’s frame and gait. He walked with his
hands by his sides, holding himself erect and swaying his head from side to side. His head was
large, globular and oily; it sweated in all weathers; and his large round hat, set upon it
sideways, looked like a bulb which had grown out of another. He always stared straight before
him as if he were on parade and, when he wished to gaze after someone in the street, it was
necessary for him to move his body from the hips. At present he was about town. Whenever
any job was vacant a friend was always ready to give him the hard word. He was often to be
seen walking with policemen in plain clothes, talking earnestly. He knew the inner side of all
affairs and was fond of delivering final judgments. He spoke without listening to the speech of
his companions. His conversation was mainly about himself: what he had said to such a
person and what such a person had said to him and what he had said to settle the matter.
When he reported these dialogues he aspirated the first letter of his name after the manner of
Florentines.
Lenehan offered his friend a cigarette. As the two young men walked on through the crowd
Corley occasionally turned to smile at some of the passing girls but Lenehan’s gaze was fixed
on the large faint moon circled with a double halo. He watched earnestly the passing of the
grey web of twilight across its face. At length he said:
—Well ... tell me, Corley, I suppose you’ll be able to pull it off all 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 were
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 throbbed 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 squint 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 sunshade 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
to 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 beencarefully 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. Frank rude health glowed in
her face, on her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features were blunt. She
had broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay open in a contented leer, and two projecting
front teeth. As he passed Lenehan took off his cap and, after about ten seconds, Corley
returned a salute to the air. This he did by raising his hand vaguely and pensively changing the
angle of position of his hat.
Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted and waited. After waiting
for a little time he saw them coming towards him and, when they turned to the right, he
followed them, stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion Square. As he
walked on slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he watched Corley’s head which turned at every
moment towards the young woman’s face like a big ball revolving on a pivot. He kept the pair
in view until he had seen them climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram; then he turned
about and went back the way he had come.
Now that he was alone his face looked older. His gaiety seemed to forsake him and, as he
came by the railings of the Duke’s Lawn, he allowed his hand to run along them. The air
which the harpist had played began to control his movements. His softly padded feet played
the melody while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly along the railings after each group
of notes.
He walked listlessly round Stephen’s Green and then down Grafton Street. Though his eyes
took note of many elements of the crowd through which he passed they did so morosely. He
found trivial all that was meant to charm him and did not answer the glances which invited
him to be bold. He knew that he would have to speak a great deal, to invent and to amuse, and
his brain and throat were too dry for such a task. The problem of how he could pass the hours
till he met Corley again troubled him a little. He could think of no way of passing them but to
keep on walking. He turned to the left when he came to the corner of Rutland Square and felt
more at ease in the dark quiet street, the sombre look of which suited his mood. He paused at
last before the window of a poor-looking shop over which the words Refreshment Bar were
printed in white letters. On the glass of the window were two flying inscriptions: Ginger Beer
and Ginger Ale. A cut ham was exposed on a great blue dish while near it on a plate lay a
segment of very light plum-pudding. He eyed this food earnestly for some time and then, after
glancing warily up and down the street, went into the shop quickly.
He was hungry for, except some biscuits which he had asked two grudging curates to bring
him, he had eaten nothing since breakfast-time. He sat down at an uncovered wooden table
opposite two work-girls and a mechanic. A slatternly girl waited on him.
—How much is a plate of peas? he asked.
—Three halfpence, sir, said the girl.
—Bring me a plate of peas, he said, and a bottle of ginger beer.
He spoke roughly in order to belie his air of gentility for his entry had been followed by a
pause of talk. His face was heated. To appear natural he pushed his cap back on his head and
planted his elbows on the table. The mechanic and the two work-girls examined him point by
point before resuming their conversation in a subdued voice. The girl brought him a plate of
hot grocer’s 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 againstthe 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-anhour 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 in a neighbour’s house.
After that they lived apart. She went to the priest and got a separation from him with care of
the children. She would give him neither money nor food nor house-room; and so he was
obliged to enlist himself as a sheriff’s man. He was a shabby stooped little drunkard with a
white face and a white moustache and white eyebrows, pencilled above his little eyes, which
were pink-veined and raw; and all day long he sat in the bailiff’s room, waiting to be put on a
job. Mrs Mooney, who had taken what remained of her money out of the butcher business
and set up a boarding house in Hardwicke Street, was a big imposing woman. Her house had a
floating population made up of tourists from Liverpool and the Isle of Man and, occasionally,
artistes from the music halls. Its resident population was made up of clerks from the city. She
governed her house cunningly and firmly, knew when to give credit, when to be stern and
when to let things pass. All the resident young men spoke of her as The 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 bemisunderstood. There had been no open complicity between mother and daughter, no open
understanding but, though people in the house began to talk of the affair, still Mrs Mooney
did not intervene. Polly began to grow a little strange in her manner and the young man was
evidently perturbed. At last, when she judged it to be the right moment, Mrs Mooney
intervened. She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat: and in this case she
had made up her mind.
It was a bright Sunday morning of early summer, promising heat, but with a fresh breeze
blowing. All the windows of the boarding house were open and the lace curtains ballooned
gently towards the street beneath the raised sashes. The belfry of George’s Church sent out
constant peals and worshippers, singly or in groups, traversed the little circus before the
church, revealing their purpose by their self-contained demeanour no less than by the little
volumes in their gloved hands. Breakfast was over in the boarding house and the table of the
breakfast-room was covered with plates on which lay yellow streaks of eggs with morsels of
bacon-fat and bacon-rind. Mrs Mooney sat in the straw arm-chair and watched the servant
Mary remove the breakfast things. She made Mary collect the crusts and pieces of broken
bread to help to make Tuesday’s bread-pudding. When the table was cleared, the broken
bread collected, the sugar and butter safe under lock and key, she began to reconstruct the
interview which she had had the night before with Polly. Things were as she had suspected:
she had been frank in her questions and Polly had been frank in her answers. Both had been
somewhat awkward, of course. She had been made awkward by her not wishing to receive the
news in too cavalier a fashion or to seem to have connived and Polly had been made awkward
not merely because allusions of that kind always made her awkward but also because she did
not wish it to be thought that in her wise innocence she had divined the intention behind her
mother’s 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 cases. It is all very well for the man: he can go his
ways as if nothing had happened, having had his moment of pleasure, but the girl has to bear
the brunt. Some mothers would be content to patch up such an affair for a sum of money; she
had known cases of it. But she would not do so. For her only one reparation could make up for
the loss of her daughter’s honour: marriage.
She counted all her cards again before sending Mary up to Mr Doran’s room to say that she
wished to speak with him. She felt sure she would win. He was a serious young man, not rakish
or loud-voiced like the others. If it had been Mr Sheridan or Mr Meade or Bantam Lyons her
task would have been much harder. She did not think he would face publicity. All the lodgers
in the house knew something of the affair; details had been invented by some. Besides, he had
been employed for thirteen years in a great Catholic wine-merchant’s office and publicity
would mean for him, perhaps, the loss of his sit. 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 glassesso 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; sometimes she said I seen and If I had’ve known.
But what would grammar matter if he really loved her? He could not make up his mind
whether to like her or despise her for what she had done. Of course, he had done it too. His
instinct urged him to remain free, not to marry. Once you are married you are done for, it said.
While he was sitting helplessly on the side of the bed in shirt and trousers she tapped lightly
at his door and entered. She told him all, that she had made a clean breast of it to her mother
and that her mother would speak with him that morning. She cried and threw her arms round
his neck, saying:
—O, Bob! Bob! What am I to do? What am I to do at all?
She would put an end to herself, she said.
He comforted her feebly, telling her not to cry, that it would be all right, never fear. He felt
against his shirt the agitation of her bosom.
It was not altogether his fault that it had happened. He remembered well, with the curious
patient memory of the celibate, the first casual caresses her dress, her breath, her fingers had
given him. Then late one night as he was undressing for bed she had tapped at his door,
timidly. She wanted to relight her candle at his for hers had been blown out by a gust. It was
her bath night. She wore a loose open combing-jacket of printed flannel. Her white instep
shone in the opening of her furry slippers and the blood glowed warmly behind her perfumed
skin. From her hands and wrists too as she lit and steadied her candle a faint perfume 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 good-nights. They used to kiss. He remembered well her eyes, the touch of
her hand and his delirium....
But delirium passes. He echoed her phrase, applying it to himself: What am I to do? The
instinct of the celibate warned him to hold back. But the sin was there; even his sense of
honour told him that reparation must be made for such a sin.
While he was sitting with her on the side of the bed Mary came to the door and said that the
missus wanted to see him in the parlour. He stood up to put on his coat and waistcoat, more
helpless than ever. When he was dressed he went over to her to comfort her. It would be all
right, never fear. He left her crying on the bed and moaning softly: O my 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 himdownstairs 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
returnroom.
Suddenly he remembered the night when one of the music-hall artistes, a little blond
Londoner, had made a rather free allusion to Polly. The reunion had been almost broken up
on account of Jack’s violence. Everyone tried to quiet him. The music-hall artiste, a little paler
than usual, kept smiling and saying that there was no harm meant: but Jack kept shouting at
him that if any fellow tried that sort of a game on with his sister he’d bloody well put his teeth
down his throat, so he 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 revery. 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 roistered. 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 fugitivelaughter 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 river-banks, their old coats covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the
panorama of sunset and waiting for the first chill of night to 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 to 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 notices which his book would get. Mr
Chandler has the gift of easy and graceful verse.... A 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 doorway 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, garçon, 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 clean-shaven. 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 Gallaher put on his hat again.
—It pulls you down, he said, Press life. Always hurry and scurry, looking for copy and
sometimes not finding it: and then, always to have something new in your stuff. Damn proofs
and printers, I say, for a few days. I’m deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the old country.
Does a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton better since I landed again in dear dirty
Dublin.... Here you are, Tommy. Water? Say 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 to-day, 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 cafés. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap
like you, Tommy.
Little Chandler said nothing until the barman returned with the 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 hadlived, 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 head.
—Ah, he said, you may say what you like. There’s no woman like the Parisienne—for style,
for go.
—Then it is an immoral city, said Little Chandler, with timid insistence—I mean, compared
with London or Dublin?
—London! said Ignatius Gallaher. It’s six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. You ask
Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when he was over there. He’d open your
eye.... I say, Tommy, don’t make punch of that whisky: liquor up.
—No, really....
—O, come on, another one won’t do you any harm. What is it? The same again, I suppose?
—Well ... all right.
—François, the same again.... Will you smoke, Tommy?
Ignatius Gallaher produced his cigar-case. The two friends lit their cigars and puffed at
them in silence until their drinks were served.
—I’ll tell you my opinion, said Ignatius Gallaher, emerging after some time from the clouds
of smoke in which he had taken refuge, it’s a rum world. Talk of immorality! I’ve heard of
cases—what am I saying?—I’ve known them: cases of ... immorality....
Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a calm historian’s tone, he
proceeded to sketch for his friend some pictures of the corruption which was rife abroad. He
summarised the vices of many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin.
Some things he could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of others he had had
personal experience. He spared neither rank nor caste. He revealed many of the secrets of
religious houses on the Continent and described some of the practices which were
fashionable in high society and ended by telling, with details, a story about an English
duchess—a story which he knew to be true. Little Chandler was astonished.
—Ah, well, said Ignatius Gallaher, here we are in old jog-along Dublin where nothing is
known of such things.
—How dull you must find it, said Little Chandler, after all the other places you’ve seen!
—Well, said Ignatius Gallaher, it’s a relaxation to come over here, you know. And, after all,
it’s the old country, as they say, isn’t it? You can’t help having a certain feeling for it. That’s
human nature.... But tell me something about yourself. Hogan told me you had ... tasted the
joys of connubial bliss. Two years ago, wasn’t it?
Little Chandler blushed and smiled.
—Yes, he said. I was married last May twelve months.
—I hope it’s not too late in the day to offer my best wishes, said Ignatius Gallaher. I didn’t
know your address or I’d have done so at 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 to-morrow night.
—To-night, 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 at it.
—Is it to be the last? he said. Because you know, I have an a.p.
—O, yes, positively, said Little Chandler.
—Very well, then, said Ignatius Gallaher, let us have another one as a deoc an doruis—that’s
good vernacular for a small whisky, I believe.
Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to his face a few moments
before was establishing itself. A trifle made him blush at any time: and now he felt warm and
excited. Three small whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher’s strong cigar had confused
his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent person. The adventure of meeting Gallaher after
eight years, of finding himself with Gallaher in Corless’s surrounded by lights and noise, of
listening to Gallaher’s stories and of sharing for a brief space Gallaher’s vagrant and
triumphant life, upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature. He felt acutely the contrast
between his own life and his friend’s, and it seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his inferior in
birth and education. He was sure that he could do something better than his friend had ever
done, or could ever do, something higher than mere tawdry journalism if he only got the
chance. What was it that stood in his way? His unfortunate timidity! He wished to vindicate
himself in some way, to assert his manhood. He saw behind Gallaher’s refusal of his
invitation. Gallaher was only patronising him by his friendliness just as he was patronising
Ireland by his visit.
The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass towards his friend and
took up the other boldly.
—Who knows? he said, as they lifted their glasses. When you come next year I may have the
pleasure of wishing long life and happiness to Mr and Mrs Ignatius Gallaher.
Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively over the rim of his glass.
When he had drunk he smacked his lips decisively, set down his glass and said:
—No blooming fear of that, my boy. I’m going to have my fling first and see a bit of life and
the world before I put my head in the sack—if I 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 to-morrow 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 that. 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 lady-like? The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and
defied him: there was no passion in them, no rapture. He thought of what Gallaher had said
about rich Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he thought, how full they are of passion, of
voluptuous longing! ... Why had he married the eyes in the photograph?
He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round the room. He found
something mean in the pretty furniture which he had bought for his house on the hire system.
Annie had chosen it herself and it reminded him of her. It too was prim and pretty. A dullresentment 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 the dust I love.
He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room. How melancholy it was!
Could he, too, write like that, express the melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many
things he wanted to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan Bridge, for
example. If he could get back again into that mood....
The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and tried to hush it: but it would
not be hushed. He began to rock it to and fro in his arms but its wailing cry grew keener. He
rocked it faster while his eyes began to read the second stanza:
Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
That clay where once ...
It was useless. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t do anything. The wailing of the child pierced
the drum of his ear. It was useless, useless! He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with
anger and suddenly bending to the child’s face he shouted:
—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
goldrimmed glasses on a clean-shaven face, shot his head up over a pile of documents. The head
itself was so pink and hairless that 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 fallingand 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 absent-mindedness.
—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 single-handed. 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 turned
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 crowdedwith young men and women returning from business and ragged urchins ran here and there
yelling out the names of the evening editions. The man passed through the crowd, looking on
the spectacle generally with proud satisfaction and staring masterfully at the office-girls. His
head was full of the noises of tram-gongs and swishing trolleys and his nose already sniffed
the curling fumes of punch. As he walked on he preconsidered the terms in which he would
narrate the incident to the boys:
—So, I just looked at him—coolly, you know, and looked at her. Then I looked back at him
again—taking my time, you know. I don’t think that that’s a fair question to put to me, says I.
Nosey Flynn was sitting up in his usual corner of Davy Byrne’s and, when he heard the story,
he stood Farrington a half-one, saying it was as smart a thing as ever he heard. Farrington
stood a drink in his turn. After a while O’Halloran and Paddy Leonard came in and the story
was repeated to them. O’Halloran stood tailors of malt, hot, all round and told the story of the
retort he had made to the chief clerk when he was in Callan’s of Fownes’s Street; but, as the
retort was after the manner of the liberal shepherds in the eclogues, he had to admit that it
was not so clever as Farrington’s retort. At this Farrington told the boys to polish off that and
have another.
Just as they were naming their poisons who should come in but Higgins! Of course he had
to join in with the others. The men asked him to give his version of it, and he did so with great
vivacity for the sight of five small hot whiskies was very exhilarating. Everyone roared laughing
when he showed the way in which Mr Alleyne shook his fist in Farrington’s face. Then he
imitated Farrington, saying, And here was my nabs, as cool as you please, while Farrington
looked at the company out of his heavy dirty eyes, smiling and at times drawing forth stray
drops of liquor from his moustache with the aid of his lower lip.
When that round was over there was a pause. O’Halloran had money but neither of the
other two seemed to have any; so the whole party left the shop somewhat regretfully. At the
corner of Duke Street Higgins and Nosey Flynn bevelled off to the left while the other three
turned back towards the city. Rain was drizzling down on the cold streets and, when they
reached the Ballast Office, Farrington suggested the Scotch House. The bar was full of men
and loud with the noise of tongues and glasses. The three men pushed past the whining
match-sellers at the door and formed a little party at the corner of the counter. They began to
exchange stories. Leonard introduced them to a young fellow named Weathers who was
performing at the Tivoli as an acrobat and knockabout artiste. Farrington stood a drink all
round. Weathers said he would take a small Irish and Apollinaris. Farrington, who had
definite notions of what was what, asked the boys would they have an Apollinaris too; but the
boys told Tim to make theirs hot. The talk became theatrical. O’Halloran stood a round and
then Farrington stood another round, Weathers protesting that the hospitality was too Irish.
He promised to get them in behind the scenes and introduce them to some nice girls.
O’Halloran said that he and Leonard would go but that Farrington wouldn’t go because he
was a married man; and Farrington’s heavy dirty eyes leered at the company in token that he
understood he was being chaffed. Weathers made them all have just one little tincture at his
expense and promised to meet them later on at Mulligan’s in Poolbeg 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 running 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 obliquestaring 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 Apollinaris 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 loutish 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 viciously 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
sidetables 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 walls; 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 up 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 tipof 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
raincloak. 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: O, here’s Maria! when she came to Joe’s house. Joe was there, having come
home from business, and all the children had their Sunday dresses on. There were two big
girls in from next door and games were going on. Maria gave the bag of cakes to the eldest
boy, Alphy, to divide and Mrs Donnelly said it was too good of her to bring such a big bag of
cakes and made all the children say:
—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 raincloak 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 ofstealing. 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: O, I know all about it!
They insisted then on blindfolding Maria and leading her up to the table to see what she
would get; and, while they were putting on the bandage, Maria laughed and laughed again till
the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of 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 sideAnd 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
clothesrack, 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 bed-clothes and a black and scarlet rug covered the foot. A little
handmirror 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 over-ripe apple which might have been left there and forgotten.
Mr Duffy abhorred anything which betokened physical or mental disorder. A mediæval
doctor would have called him saturnine. His face, which carried the entire tale of his years,
was of the brown tint of Dublin streets. On his long and rather large head grew dry black hair
and a tawny moustache did not quite cover an unamiable mouth. His cheekbones also gave
his face a harsh character; but there was no harshness in the eyes which, looking at the world
from under their tawny eyebrows, gave the impression of a man ever alert to greet a redeeming
instinct in others but often disappointed. He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding
his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiograpical habit which led him
to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a
subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars
and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel.
He had been for many years cashier of a private bank in Baggot Street. Every morning he
came in from Chapelizod by tram. At midday he went to Dan Burke’s and took his lunch—a
bottle of lager beer and a small trayful of arrowroot biscuits. At four o’clock he was set free. He
dined in an eating-house in George’s Street where he felt himself safe from the society of
Dublin’s gilded youth and where there was a certain plain honesty in the bill of fare. His
evenings were spent either before his landlady’s piano or roaming about the outskirts of the
city. His liking for Mozart’s music brought him sometimes to an opera or a concert: these were
the only dissipations of his life.
He had neither companions nor friends, church nor creed. He lived his spiritual life without
any communion with others, visiting his relatives at Christmas and escorting them to the
cemetery when they died. He performed these two social duties for old dignity’ 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 bank 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 lookedround at the deserted house once or twice and then said:
—What a pity there is such a poor house to-night! 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 fulness, 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
product of a leisure not within their reach. No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to
strike Dublin for some centuries.
She asked him why did he not write out his thoughts. For what, he asked her, with careful
scorn. To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of thinking consecutively for sixty
seconds? To submit himself to the criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its
morality to policemen and its fine arts to impresarios?
He went often to her little cottage outside Dublin; often they spent their evenings alone.
Little by little, as their thoughts entangled, they spoke of subjects less remote. Her
companionship was like a warm soil about an exotic. Many times she allowed the dark to fall
upon them, refraining from lighting the lamp. The dark discreet room, their isolation, the
music that still vibrated in their ears united them. This union exalted him, wore away the
rough edges of his character, emotionalised his mental life. Sometimes he caught himself
listening to the sound of his own voice. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an
angelical stature; and, as he attached the fervent nature of his companion more and more
closely to him, he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own,
insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own.The end of these discourses was that one night during which she had shown every sign of
unusual excitement, Mrs Sinico caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek.
Mr Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words disillusioned him. He did
not visit her for a week; then he wrote to her asking her to meet him. As he did not wish their
last interview to be troubled by the influence of their ruined confessional they met in a little
cakeshop near the Parkgate. It was cold autumn weather but in spite of the cold they
wandered up and down the roads of the Park for nearly three hours. They agreed to break off
their intercourse: every bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow. When they came out of the Park
they walked in silence towards the tram; but here she began to tremble so violently that,
fearing another collapse on her part, he bade her good-bye quickly and left her. A few days
later he received a parcel containing his books and music.
Four years passed. Mr Duffy returned to his even way of life. His room still bore witness of
the orderliness of his mind. Some new pieces of music encumbered the music-stand in the
lower room and on his shelves stood two volumes by Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra and
The Gay Science. He wrote seldom in the sheaf of papers which lay in his desk. One of his
sentences, written two months after his last interview with Mrs Sinico, read: Love between
man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship
between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse. He kept
away from concerts lest he should meet her. His father died; the junior partner of the bank
retired. And still every morning he went into the city by tram and every evening walked home
from the city after having dined moderately in George’s Street and read the evening paper for
dessert.
One evening as he was about to put a morsel of corned beef and cabbage into his mouth his
hand stopped. His eyes fixed themselves on a paragraph in the evening paper which he had
propped against the water-carafe. He replaced the morsel of food on his plate and read the
paragraph attentively. Then he drank a glass of water, pushed his plate to one side, doubled
the paper down before him between his elbows and read the paragraph over and over again.
The cabbage began to deposit a cold white grease on his plate. The girl came over to him to
ask was his dinner not properly cooked. He said it was very good and ate a few mouthfuls of it
with difficulty. Then he paid his bill and went out.
He walked along quickly through the November twilight, his stout hazel stick striking the
ground regularly, the fringe of the buff Mail peeping out of a side-pocket of his tight reefer
over-coat. 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
To-day 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 57E corroborated.
Dr Halpin, assistant house surgeon of the City of Dublin Hospital, stated that the deceased
had two lower ribs fractured and had sustained severe contusions of the right shoulder. The
right side of the head had been injured in the fall. The injuries were not sufficient to have
caused death in a normal person. Death, in his opinion, had been probably due to shock and
sudden failure of the heart’s action.
Mr H. B. Patterson Finlay, on behalf of the railway company, expressed his deep regret at the
accident. The company had always taken every precaution to prevent people crossing the lines
except by the bridges, both by placing notices in every station and by the use of patent spring
gates at level crossings. The deceased had been in the habit of crossing the lines late at night
from platform to platform and, in view of certain other circumstances of the case, he did not
think the railway officials were to blame.
Captain Sinico, of Leoville, Sydney Parade, husband of the deceased, also gave evidence. He
stated that the deceased was his wife. He was not in Dublin at the time of the accident as he
had arrived only that morning from Rotterdam. They had been married for twenty-two years
and had lived happily until about two years ago when his wife began to be rather intemperate
in her habits.
Miss Mary Sinico said that of late her mother had been in the habit of going out at night to
buy spirits. She, witness, had often tried to reason with her mother and had induced her to
join a league. She was not at home until an hour after the accident.
The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence and exonerated
Lennon from all 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
working-men 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 hisstool 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 re-emerged into light. It was an old man’s face, very bony and
hairy. The moist blue eyes blinked at the fire and the moist mouth fell open at times,
munching once or twice mechanically when it closed. When the cinders had caught he laid
the piece of cardboard against the wall, sighed and said:
—That’s better now, Mr O’Connor.
Mr O’Connor, a grey-haired young man, whose face was disfigured by many blotches and
pimples, had just brought the tobacco for a cigarette into a shapely cylinder but when spoken
to he undid his handiwork meditatively. Then he began to roll the tobacco again meditatively
and after a moment’s thought decided to lick the paper.
—Did Mr Tierney say when he’d be back? he asked in a husky falsetto.
—He didn’t say.
Mr O’Connor put his cigarette into his mouth and began to 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 Mr Tierney’s agent to canvass one part of the ward but,
as the weather was inclement and his boots let in the wet, he spent a great part of the day
sitting by the fire in the Committee Room in Wicklow Street with Jack, the old caretaker. They
had been sitting thus since the short day had grown dark. It was the sixth of October, dismal
and cold out of doors.
Mr O’Connor tore a strip off the card and, lighting it, lit his cigarette. As he did so the flame
lit up a leaf of dark glossy ivy in 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 for
him, and there he goes boosing about. I tried to make him someway decent.
He replaced the cardboard wearily.
—Only I’m an old man now I’d change his tune for him. I’d take the stick to his back and
beat him while I could stand over him—as I done many a time before. The mother, you know,
she cocks him up with this and that....
—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 father?
—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 Freemasons’ meeting?
—Who’s that? said the old man.
—What are you doing in the dark? asked a voice.
—Is that you, Hynes? asked Mr O’Connor.
—Yes. What are you doing in the dark? said Mr Hynes, advancing into the light of the fire.
He was a tall slender young man with a light brown moustache. Imminent little drops of
rain hung at the brim of his hat and the collar of his jacket-coat was turned up.
—Well, Mat, he said to Mr O’Connor, how goes it?
Mr O’Connor shook his head. The old man left the hearth and, after stumbling about the
room returned with two candlesticks which he thrust one after the other into the fire and
carried to the table. A denuded room came into view and the fire lost all its cheerful colour.
The walls of the room were bare except for a copy of an election address. In the middle of the
room was a small table on which papers were heaped.
Mr Hynes leaned against the mantelpiece and asked:
—Has he paid you yet?
—Not yet, said Mr O’Connor. I hope to God he’ll not leave us in the lurch to-night.
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.
—Is it because Colgan’s a working-man you say that? What’s the difference between a good
honest bricklayer and a publican—eh? Hasn’t the working-man as good a right to be in the
Corporation as anyone else—ay, and a better right than those shoneens that are always hat in
hand before any fellow with a handle to his name? Isn’t that so, Mat? said Mr Hynes,
addressing Mr O’Connor.
—I think you’re right, said Mr O’Connor.
—One man is a plain honest man with no hunker-sliding about him. He goes in to
represent the labour classes. This fellow you’re working for only wants to get some job or
other.
—Of course, the working-classes should be represented, said the old man.
—The working-man, said Mr Hynes, gets all kicks and no halfpence. But it’s labour
produces everything. The working-man is not looking for fat jobs for his sons and nephews
and cousins. The working-man is not going to drag the honour of Dublin in the mud to please
a German monarch.
—How’s that? said the old man.
—Don’t you know they want to present an address of welcome to Edward Rex if he comes
here next year? What do we want kowtowing to a foreign 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 tookoff 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: O,
now, Mr Henchy, when I see the work going on properly I won’t forget you, you may be sure. Mean
little tinker! ’Usha, how could he be anything else?
—What did I tell you, Mat? said Mr Hynes. Tricky Dicky Tierney.
—O, he’s as tricky as they make ’em, said Mr Henchy. He hasn’t got those little pigs’ eyes for
nothing. Blast his soul! Couldn’t he pay up like a man instead of: O, now, Mr Henchy, I must
speak to Mr Fanning.... I’ve spent a lot of money? Mean little shoeboy 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.
—That’s 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 you ask me, said Mr Henchy. Do
you know what my private and candid opinion is about some of those little jokers? I believe
half of them are in the pay of the Castle.
—There’s no knowing, said the old man.
—O, but I know it for a fact, said Mr Henchy. They’re Castle hacks.... I don’t say Hynes.... No,
damn it, I think he’s a stroke above that.... But there’s a certain little nobleman with a cock-eye
—you know the patriot I’m alluding to?
Mr O’Connor nodded.
—There’s a lineal descendant of Major Sirr for you if you like! O, the heart’s blood of a
patriot! That’s a fellow now that’d sell his country for fourpence—ay—and go down on his
bended knees and thank the Almighty Christ he had a country to sell.
There was a knock at the door.
—Come in! said Mr Henchy.
A person resembling a poor clergyman or a poor actor appeared in the doorway. His black
clothes were tightly buttoned on his short body and it was impossible to say whether he wore a
clergyman’s collar or a layman’s because the collar of his shabby frock-coat, the uncovered
buttons of which reflected the candlelight, was turned up about his neck. He wore a round hat
of hard black felt. His face, shining with raindrops, had the appearance of damp yellow cheese
save where two rosy spots indicated the cheekbones. He opened his very long mouth suddenly
to express disappointment and at the same time opened wide his very bright blue eyes to
express pleasure and surprise.
—O, Father Keon! said Mr Henchy, jumping up from his chair. Is that you? Come in!
—O, no, no, no! said Father Keon quickly, pursing his lips as if he were addressing a child.
—Won’t you come in and sit down?
—No, no, no! said Father Keon, speaking in a discreet indulgent velvety voice. Don’t let me
disturb you now! I’m just looking for Mr 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 is he exactly?
—Ask me an easier one, said Mr Henchy.
—Fanning and himself seem to me very thick. They’re often in Kavanagh’s together. Is he a
priest at all?
—’Mmmyes, I believe so.... I think he’s what you call a black sheep. We haven’t many of
them, thank God! but we have a few.... He’s an unfortunate man of some kind....
—And how does he knock it out? asked Mr O’Connor.
—That’s another mystery.
—Is he attached to any chapel or church or institution or—
—No, said Mr Henchy. I think he’s travelling on his own account.... God forgive me, he
added, I thought he was the dozen of stout.
—Is there any chance of a drink itself? asked Mr O’Connor.
—I’m dry too, said the old man.
—I asked that little shoeboy three times, said Mr Henchy, would he send up a dozen of
stout. I asked him again now but he was leaning on the counter in his shirt-sleeves having a
deep goster with Alderman 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 bottles.
—Come back to-morrow, 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 end of the wedge, said Mr Henchy.
The old man distributed the three bottles which he had opened and the men drank from
them simultaneously. After having drunk each placed his bottle on the mantelpiece within
hand’s reach and drew in a long breath of satisfaction.
—Well, I did a good day’s work to-day, 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 down again by the fire and took another drink from his bottle. Mr Lyons sat on the edgeof 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 Tierney.
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 to-day.
—Who did you get? asked Mr Lyons.
—Well, I got Parkes for one, and I got Atkinson for two, and I got Ward of Dawson Street.
Fine old chap he is, too— regular old toff, old Conservative! But isn’t your candidate a
Nationalist? said he. He’s a respectable man, said I. He’s in favour of whatever will benefit this
country. He’s a big ratepayer, I said. He has extensive house property in the city and three places of
business and isn’t it to his own advantage to keep down the rates? He’s a prominent and respected
citizen, said I, and a Poor Law Guardian, and he doesn’t belong to any party, good, bad, or
indifferent. That’s the way to talk to ’em.
—And what about the address to the King? said Mr Lyons, after drinking and smacking his
lips.
—Listen to me, said Mr Henchy. What we want in this country, as I said to old Ward, is
capital. The King’s coming here will mean an influx of money into this country. The citizens
of Dublin will benefit by it. Look at all the factories down by the quays there, idle! Look at all
the money there is in the country if we only worked the old industries, the mills, the
shipbuilding 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 thatbag 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!
—O, Joe, said Mr O’Connor suddenly. Give us that thing you wrote—do you remember?
Have you got it on you?
—O, ay! said Mr Henchy. Give us that. Did you ever hear that, Crofton? Listen to this now:
splendid thing.
—Go on, said Mr O’Connor. Fire away, Joe.
Mr Hynes did not seem to remember at once the piece to which they were alluding but, after
reflecting a while, he said:
—O, that thing is it.... Sure, that’s old now.
—Out with it, man! said Mr O’Connor.
—’Sh, ’sh, said Mr Henchy. Now, Joe!
Mr Hynes hesitated a little longer. Then amid the silence he took off his hat, laid it on the
table and stood up. He seemed to be rehearsing the piece in his mind. After a rather long
pause he announced:
THE DEATH OF PARNELL
6th October 1891
He cleared his throat once or twice and then began to recite:
He is dead. Our Uncrowned King is dead.
O, Erin, O 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-routOf fawning priests—no friends of his.
May everlasting shame consume
The memory of those who tried
To befoul and smear th’ 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
bareheaded 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?
Mr 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 elder daughter, Kathleen, to a good
convent, where she learned French and music and afterwards paid her fees at the Academy.
Every year in the month of July Mrs Kearney found occasion to say to some friend:
—My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks.
If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones.
When the Irish Revival began to be appreciable Mrs Kearney determined to take advantage
of her daughter’s name and brought an Irish teacher to the house. Kathleen and her sister
sent Irish picture postcards to their friends and these friends sent back other Irish picture
postcards. On special Sundays when Mr Kearney went with his family to the pro-cathedral a
little crowd of people would assemble after mass at the corner of Cathedral Street. They were
all friends of the Kearneys—musical friends or Nationalist friends; and, when they had played
every little counter of gossip, they shook hands with one another all together, laughing at the
crossing of so many hands and said good-bye to one another in Irish. Soon the name of Miss
Kathleen Kearney began to be heard often on people’s lips. People said that she was very
clever at music and a very nice girl and, moreover, that she was a believer in the language
movement. Mrs Kearney was well content at this. Therefore she was not surprised when one
day Mr Holohan came to her and proposed that her daughter should be the accompanist at a
series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give in the Antient Concert
Rooms. She brought him into the drawing-room, made him sit down and brought out the
decanter and the silver biscuit-barrel. She entered heart and soul into the details of the
enterprise, advised and dissuaded; and finally a contract was drawn up by which Kathleen was
to receive eight guineas for her services as accompanist at the four grand concerts.
As Mr Holohan was a novice in such delicate matters as the wording of bills and thedisposing 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 dressing-room 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
no 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 abumper 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
musicloving public of the treat which was in store for it on the following evening. Mrs Kearney was
somewhat reassured but she thought well to tell her husband part of her suspicions. He
listened carefully and said that perhaps it would be better if he went with her on Saturday
night. She agreed. She respected her husband in the same way as she respected the General
Post Office, as something large, secure and fixed; and though she knew the small number of
his talents she appreciated his abstract value as a male. She was glad that he had suggested
coming with her. She thought her plans over.
The night of the grand concert came. Mrs Kearney, with her husband and daughter, arrived
at the Antient Concert Rooms three-quarters of an hour before the time at which the concert
was to begin. By ill luck it was a rainy evening. Mrs Kearney placed her daughter’s clothes and
music in charge of her husband and went all over the building looking for Mr Holohan or Mr
Fitzpatrick. She could find neither. She asked the stewards was any member of the Committee
in the hall and, after a great deal of trouble, a steward brought out a little woman named Miss
Beirne to whom Mrs Kearney explained that she wanted to see one of the secretaries. Miss
Beirne expected them any minute and asked could she do anything. Mrs Kearney looked
searchingly at the oldish face which was screwed into an expression of trustfulness and
enthusiasm and answered:
—No, thank you!
The little woman hoped they would have a good house. She looked out at the rain until the
melancholy of the wet street effaced all the trustfulness and enthusiasm from her twisted
features. Then she gave a little sigh and said:
—Ah, well! We did our best, the dear knows.
Mrs Kearney had to go back to the dressing-room.
The artistes were arriving. The bass and the second tenor had already come. The bass, Mr
Duggan, was a slender young man with a scattered black moustache. He was the son of a hall
porter in an office in the city and, as a boy, he had sung prolonged bass notes in the
resounding hall. From this humble state he had raised himself until he had become a
firstrate 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’ 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 ebullientfriendliness. 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 bank-notes 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 the 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 theinterval, content.
All this time the dressing-room was a hive of excitement. In one corner were Mr Holohan,
Mr Fitzpatrick, Miss Beirne, two of the stewards, the baritone, the bass, and Mr O’Madden
Burke. Mr O’Madden Burke said it was the most scandalous exhibition he had ever witnessed.
Miss Kathleen Kearney’s musical career was ended in Dublin after that, he said. The baritone
was asked what did he think of Mrs Kearney’s conduct. He did not like to say anything. He had
been paid his money and wished to be at peace with men. However, he said that Mrs Kearney
might have taken the artistes into consideration. The stewards and the secretaries debated
hotly as to what should be done when the interval came.
—I agree with Miss Beirne, said Mr O’Madden Burke. Pay her nothing.
In another corner of the room were Mrs Kearney and her husband, Mr Bell, Miss Healy and
the young lady who had recited 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-Ido.
—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 felt 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 his eyes for an instant, sighed
and closed them again. One of the gentlemen who had carried him upstairs held a dinged silk
hat in his hand. The manager asked repeatedly did no one know who the injured man was or
where had his friends gone. The door of the bar opened and an immense constable entered. A
crowd which had followed him down the laneway collected outside the door, struggling to
look in through the glass panels.
The manager at once began to narrate what he knew. The constable, a young man with
thick immobile features, listened. He moved his head slowly to right and left and from the
manager to the person on the floor, as if he feared to be the victim of some delusion. Then he
drew off his glove, produced a small book from his waist, licked the lead of his pencil and
made ready to indite. He asked in a suspicious provincial accent:
—Who is the man? What’s his name and address?
A young man in a cycling-suit cleared his way through the ring of bystanders. He knelt down
promptly beside the injured man and called for water. The constable knelt down also to help.
The young man washed the blood from the injured man’s mouth and then called for some
brandy. The constable repeated the order in an authoritative voice until a curate came
running with the glass. The brandy was forced down the man’s throat. In a few seconds he
opened his eyes and looked about him. He looked at the circle of faces and then,
understanding, strove to rise to 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.
—’an’t we have a little...?
—Not now. Not now.
The three men left the bar and the crowd sifted through the doors into 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 the 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 fivechina bowls which were usually half full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr Kernan tasted
tea. He took a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then spat it forth into the
grate. Then he paused to judge.
Mr Power, a much younger man, was employed in the Royal Irish Constabulary Office in
Dublin Castle. The arc of his social rise intersected the arc of his friend’s decline but Mr
Kernan’s decline was mitigated by the fact that certain of those friends who had known him
at his highest point of success still esteemed him as a character. Mr Power was one of these
friends. His inexplicable debts were a byword in his circle; he was a debonair young man.
The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr Kernan was helped into
the house. His wife put him to bed while Mr Power sat downstairs in the kitchen asking the
children where they went to school and what book they were in. The children—two girls and a
boy, conscious of their father’s helplessness and of their mother’s absence, began some
horseplay with him. He was surprised at their manners and at their accents and his brow grew
thoughtful. After a while Mrs Kernan entered the kitchen, exclaiming:
—Such a sight! O, he’ll do for himself one day and that’s the holy alls of it. He’s been
drinking since Friday.
Mr Power was careful to explain to her that he was not responsible, that he had come on the
scene by the merest accident. Mrs Kernan, remembering Mr Power’s good offices during
domestic quarrels as well as many small, but opportune loans, said:
—O, you needn’t tell me that, Mr Power. I know you’re a friend of his not like some of those
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 to-night, 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 forhim and scolded him roundly. She accepted his frequent intemperance as part of the climate,
healed him dutifully whenever he was sick and always tried to make him eat a breakfast. There
were worse husbands. He had never been violent since the boys had grown up and she knew
that he would walk to the end of Thomas Street and back again to book even a small order.
Two nights after his friends came to see him. She brought them up to his bedroom, the air
of which was impregnated with a personal odour, and gave them chairs at the fire. Mr
Kernan’s tongue, the occasional stinging pain of which had made him somewhat irritable
during the day, became more polite. He sat propped up in the bed by pillows and the little
colour in his puffy cheeks made them resemble warm cinders. He apologised to his guests for
the disorder of the room but at the same time looked at them a little proudly, with a veteran’s
pride.
He was quite unconscious that he was the victim of a plot which his friends, Mr
Cunningham, Mr M’Coy and Mr Power had disclosed to Mrs Kernan in the parlour. The idea
had been Mr Power’s but its development was entrusted to Mr Cunningham. Mr Kernan came
of Protestant stock and, though he had been converted to the Catholic faith at the time of his
marriage, he had not been in the pale of the Church for twenty years. He was fond, moreover,
of giving side-thrusts at Catholicism.
Mr Cunningham was the very man for such a case. He was an elder colleague of Mr Power.
His own domestic life was not very happy. People had great sympathy with him for it was
known that he had married an unpresentable woman who was an incurable drunkard. He
had set up house for her six times; and each time she had pawned the furniture on him.
Everyone had respect for poor Martin Cunningham. He was a thoroughly sensible man,
influential and intelligent. His blade of human knowledge, natural astuteness particularised
by long association with cases in the police courts, had been tempered by brief immersions in
the waters of general philosophy. He was well informed. His friends bowed to his opinions
and considered that his face was like Shakespeare’s.
When the plot had been disclosed to her Mrs Kernan had said:
—I leave it all in your hands, Mr Cunningham.
After a quarter of a century of married life she had very few illusions left. Religion for her
was a habit and she suspected that a man of her husband’s age would not change greatly
before death. She was tempted to see a curious appropriateness in his accident and, but that
she did not wish to seem bloody-minded, she 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 retchoff.
—That’s the boose, said Mr Cunningham firmly.
—No, said Mr Kernan. I think I caught a cold on the car. There’s something keeps coming
into my throat, phlegm or—
—Mucus, said Mr M’Coy.
—It keeps coming like from down in my throat; sickening thing.
—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
fellowtravellers 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, of 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 bostoons ... 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 held 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.
—O, said Mr Kernan.
There was silence again. Then Mr Power said, point-blank:
—To tell you the truth, Tom, we’re going to make a retreat.
—Yes, that’s it, said Mr Cunningham, Jack and I and M’Coy here—we’re all going to wash
the pot.
He uttered the metaphor with a certain homely energy and, encouraged by his own voice,
proceeded:
—You see, we may as well all admit we’re a nice collection of scoundrels, one and all. I say,
one and all, he added with gruff charity and turning to Mr Power. Own up now!
—I own up, said Mr Power.
—And I own up, said Mr M’Coy.
—So we’re going to wash the pot together, said Mr Cunningham.
A thought seemed to strike him. He turned suddenly to the invalid and said:
—Do you know what, Tom, has just occurred to me? You might 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 it 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?
—Mmmno.... It’s not exactly a sermon, you know. It’s just a 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, I was genuinely moved, tell you the God’s truth—and I
remember well his very words. Kernan, he said, we worship at different altars, he said, but our
belief is the same. Struck me as very well put.
—There’s a good deal in that, said Mr Power. There used always be crowds of Protestants in
the chapel when 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 forgroceries 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 outgeneralled. 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 canvasses. 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 up 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 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 hisovercoat 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
outof-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 Christmas-time, 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. Then he 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 could 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 theappearance 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 to-night, 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 goloshes. To-night 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 ...
—O, 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?
—O, 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 halfway 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 to-night.
—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 turnthe 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 names for her sons for she was very sensible of
the dignity of family life. Thanks to her, Constantine was now senior curate in Balbriggan 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
frankmannered 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.
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 rag 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 Webb’s or
Massey’s on Aston’s Quay, or to O’Clohissey’s in the by-street. 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 tosmile 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 warm hand eagerly on his arm.
—The fact is, said Gabriel, I have already 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?
—O, 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 nice 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 words had you with Molly Ivors?
—No words. 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 were no words, 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 fish, a beautiful big big fish,
and the man in the hotel boiled 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 notmiss 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 song-book 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 to-night. 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 Healy 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 wasbuttoning 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 really are 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 that 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 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 gotthe 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.
—O, well, said Mr Bartell D’Arcy, I presume there are as good singers to-day 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 a farthing?
—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 and stood up.
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 andlistening 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 to-night 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 to-night 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 to-night. 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 sally. 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 to-night 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 to-night, 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 theChristmas.
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
snowcovered 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 strumming 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 peals of laughter which followed Gabriel’s imitation of the incident were 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
manœuvres, 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
crossdirections 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, cried 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 terracotta and salmonpink 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 thesinging 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 to-night.
—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 anygrace 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 she called out to
the man at the furnace:
—Is the fire hot, sir?
But the man could not hear her 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 fires 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 their 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 somany 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 ghostly 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 at heart.
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, toovermaster 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 stock-still 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 were 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 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 hairand 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 merrymaking 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.
® A PORTRAIT
OF THE
ARTIST
AS AYOUNG MAN


by J A M E S J O Y C E




published December 29, 1916
by B. W. Huebsch, New Yorkc o n t e n t s — p o r t r a i t


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
® [The text follows the Viking Press edition, New York 1964, corrected from the Dublin holograph by Chester G. Anderson and
edited by Richard Ellmann. (2nd printing, January 1965.)]
Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.
—Ovid, Metamorphoses, VIII, 188I
O n c e upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the
road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named
baby tuckoo….
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold
lemon platt.
O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.
He sang that song. That was his song.
O, the green wothe botheth.
When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That
had the queer smell.
His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe
for him to dance. He danced:
Tralala lala
Tralala tralaladdy
Tralala lala
Tralala lala.
Uncle Charles and Dante clapped. They were older than his father and mother but uncle
Charles was older than Dante.
Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael
Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell. Dante gave him a cachou every
time he brought her a piece of tissue paper.
The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were
Eileen’s father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid
under the table. His mother said:
—O, Stephen will apologise.
Dante said:
—O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.
Pull out his eyes,
Apologise,
Apologise,
Pull out his eyes.
Apologise,
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,
Apologise.
* * *
The wide playgrounds were swarming with boys. All were shouting and the prefects urged
them on with strong cries. The evening air was pale and chilly and after every charge and thud
of the footballers the greasy leather orb flew like a heavy bird through the grey light. He kept
on the fringe of his line, out of sight of his prefect, out of the reach of the rude feet, feigning to
run now and then. He felt his body small and weak amid the throng of players and his eyeswere weak and watery. Rody Kickham was not like that: he would be captain of the third line
all the fellows said.
Rody Kickham was a decent fellow but Nasty Roche was a stink. Rody Kickham had greaves
in his number and a hamper in the refectory. Nasty Roche had big hands. He called the Friday
pudding dog-in-the-blanket. And one day he had asked:
—What is your name?
Stephen had answered:
—Stephen Dedalus.
Then Nasty Roche had said:
—What kind of a name is that?
And when Stephen had not been able to answer Nasty Roche had asked:
—What is your father?
Stephen had answered:
—A gentleman.
Then Nasty Roche had asked:
—Is he a magistrate?
He crept about from point to point on the fringe of his line, making little runs now and
then. But his hands were bluish with cold. He kept his hands in the sidepockets of his belted
grey suit. That was a belt round his pocket. And belt was also to give a fellow a belt. One day a
fellow had said to Cantwell:
—I’d give you such a belt in a second.
Cantwell had answered:
—Go and fight your match. Give Cecil Thunder a belt. I’d like to see you. He’d give you a toe
in the rump for yourself.
That was not a nice expression. His mother had told him not to speak with the rough boys
in the college. Nice mother! The first day in the hall of the castle when she had said goodbye
she had put up her veil double to her nose to kiss him: and her nose and eyes were red. But he
had pretended not to see that she was going to cry. She was a nice mother but she was not so
nice when she cried. And his father had given him two fiveshilling pieces for pocket money.
And his father had told him if he wanted anything to write home to him and, whatever he did,
never to peach on a fellow. Then at the door of the castle the rector had shaken hands with his
father and mother, his soutane fluttering in the breeze, and the car had driven off with his
father and mother on it. They had cried to him from the car, waving their hands:
—Goodbye, Stephen, goodbye!
—Goodbye, Stephen, goodbye!
He was caught in the whirl of a scrimmage and, fearful of the flashing eyes and muddy
boots, bent down to look through the legs. The fellows were struggling and groaning and their
legs were rubbing and kicking and stamping. Then Jack Lawton’s yellow boots dodged out the
ball and all the other boots and legs ran after. He ran after them a little way and then stopped.
It was useless to run on. Soon they would be going home for the holidays. After supper in the
studyhall he would change the number pasted up inside his desk from seventyseven to
seventysix.
It would be better to be in the studyhall than out there in the cold. The sky was pale and cold
but there were lights in the castle. He wondered from which window Hamilton Rowan had
thrown his hat on the haha and had there been flowerbeds at that time under the windows.
One day when he had been called to the castle the butler had shown him the marks of the
soldiers’ slugs in the wood of the door and had given him a piece of shortbread that the
community ate. It was nice and warm to see the lights in the castle. It was like something in a
book. Perhaps Leicester Abbey was like that. And there were nice sentences in Doctor
Cornwell’s Spelling Book. They were like poetry but they were only sentences to learn the
spelling from.
Wolsey died in Leicester Abbey
Where the abbots buried him.Canker is a disease of plants,
Cancer one of animals.
It would be nice to lie on the hearthrug before the fire, leaning his head upon his hands,
and think on those sentences. He shivered as if he had cold slimy water next his skin. That was
mean of Wells to shoulder him into the square ditch because he would not swop his little
snuffbox for Wells’s seasoned hacking chestnut, the conqueror of forty. How cold and slimy
the water had been! A fellow had once seen a big rat jump into the scum. Mother was sitting at
the fire with Dante waiting for Brigid to bring in the tea. She had her feet on the fender and her
jewelly slippers were so hot and they had such a lovely warm smell! Dante knew a lot of things.
She had taught him where the Mozambique Channel was and what was the longest river in
America and what was the name of the highest mountain in the moon. Father Arnall knew
more than Dante because he was a priest but both his father and uncle Charles said that
Dante was a clever woman and a wellread woman. And when Dante made that noise after
dinner and then put up her hand to her mouth: that was heartburn.
A voice cried far out on the playground:
—All in!
Then other voices cried from the lower and third lines:
—All in! All in!
The players closed around, flushed and muddy, and he went among them, glad to go in.
Rody Kickham held the ball by its greasy lace. A fellow asked him to give it one last: but he
walked on without even answering the fellow. Simon Moonan told him not to because the
prefect was looking. The fellow turned to Simon Moonan and said:
—We all know why you speak. You are McGlade’s suck.
Suck was a queer word. The fellow called Simon Moonan that name because Simon
Moonan used to tie the prefect’s false sleeves behind his back and the prefect used to let on to
be angry. But the sound was ugly. Once he had washed his hands in the lavatory of the
Wicklow Hotel and his father pulled the stopper up by the chain after and the dirty water went
down through the hole in the basin. And when it had all gone down slowly the hole in the
basin had made a sound like that: suck. Only louder.
To remember that and the white look of the lavatory made him feel cold and then hot.
There were two cocks that you turned and water came out: cold and hot. He felt cold and then
a little hot: and he could see the names printed on the cocks. That was a very queer thing.
And the air in the corridor chilled him too. It was queer and wettish. But soon the gas would
be lit and in burning it made a light noise like a little song. Always the same: and when the
fellows stopped talking in the playroom you could hear it.
It was the hour for sums. Father Arnall wrote a hard sum on the board and then said:
—Now then, who will win? Go ahead, York! Go ahead, Lancaster!
Stephen tried his best but the sum was too hard and he felt confused. The little silk badge
with the white rose on it that was pinned on the breast of his jacket began to flutter. He was no
good at sums but he tried his best so that York might not lose. Father Arnall’s face looked very
black but he was not in a wax: he was laughing. Then Jack Lawton cracked his fingers and
Father Arnall looked at his copybook and said:
—Right. Bravo Lancaster! The red rose wins. Come on now, York! Forge ahead!
Jack Lawton looked over from his side. The little silk badge with the red rose on it looked
very rich because he had a blue sailor top on. Stephen felt his own face red too, thinking of all
the bets about who would get first place in elements, Jack Lawton or he. Some weeks Jack
Lawton got the card for first and some weeks he got the card for first. His white silk badge
fluttered and fluttered as he worked at the next sum and heard Father Arnall’s voice. Then all
his eagerness passed away and he felt his face quite cool. He thought his face must be white
because it felt so cool. He could not get out the answer for the sum but it did not matter. White
roses and red roses: those were beautiful colours to think of. And the cards for first place and
second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender.
Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might belike those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little
green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you
could.
The bell rang and then the classes began to file out of the rooms and along the corridors
towards the refectory. He sat looking at the two prints of butter on his plate but could not eat
the damp bread. The tablecloth was damp and limp. But he drank off the hot weak tea which
the clumsy scullion, girt with a white apron, poured into his cup. He wondered whether the
scullion’s apron was damp too or whether all white things were cold and damp. Nasty Roche
and Saurin drank cocoa that their people sent them in tins. They said they could not drink the
tea; that it was hogwash. Their fathers were magistrates, the fellows said.
All the boys seemed to him very strange. They had all fathers and mothers and different
clothes and voices. He longed to be at home and lay his head on his mother’s lap. But he could
not: and so he longed for the play and study and prayers to be over and to be in bed.
He drank another cup of hot tea and Fleming said:
—What’s up? Have you a pain or what’s up with you?
—I don’t know, Stephen said.
—Sick in your breadbasket, Fleming said, because your face looks white. It will go away.
—O yes, Stephen said.
But he was not sick there. He thought that he was sick in his heart if you could be sick in that
place. Fleming was very decent to ask him. He wanted to cry. He leaned his elbows on the table
and shut and opened the flaps of his ears. Then he heard the noise of the refectory every time
he opened the flaps of his ears. It made a roar like a train at night. And when he closed the
flaps the roar was shut off like a train going into a tunnel. That night at Dalkey the train had
roared like that and then, when it went into the tunnel, the roar stopped. He closed his eyes
and the train went on, roaring and then stopping; roaring again, stopping. It was nice to hear
it roar and stop and then roar out of the tunnel again and then stop.
Then the higher line fellows began to come down along the matting in the middle of the
refectory, Paddy Rath and Jimmy Magee and the Spaniard who was allowed to smoke cigars
and the little Portuguese who wore the woolly cap. And then the lower line tables and the
tables of the third line. And every single fellow had a different way of walking.
He sat in a corner of the playroom pretending to watch a game of dominos and once or
twice he was able to hear for an instant the little song of the gas. The prefect was at the door
with some boys and Simon Moonan was knotting his false sleeves. He was telling them
something about Tullabeg.
Then he went away from the door and Wells came over to Stephen and said:
—Tell us, Dedalus, do you kiss your mother before you go to bed?
Stephen answered:
—I do.
Wells turned to the other fellows and said:
—O, I say, here’s a fellow says he kisses his mother every night before he goes to bed.
The other fellows stopped their game and turned round, laughing. Stephen blushed under
their eyes and said:
—I do not.
Wells said:
—O, I say, here’s a fellow says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed.
They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and
confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and still
Wells laughed. But Wells must know the right answer for he was in third of grammar. He tried
to think of Wells’s mother but he did not dare to raise his eyes to Wells’s face. He did not like
Wells’s face. It was Wells who had shouldered him into the square ditch the day before
because he would not swop his little snuffbox for Wells’s seasoned hacking chestnut, the
conqueror of forty. It was a mean thing to do; all the fellows said it was. And how cold and
slimy the water had been! And a fellow had once seen a big rat jump plop into the scum.The cold slime of the ditch covered his whole body; and, when the bell rang for study and
the lines filed out of the playrooms, he felt the cold air of the corridor and staircase inside his
clothes. He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or
wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say
goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips
on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise:
kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?
Sitting in the studyhall he opened the lid of his desk and changed the number pasted up
inside from seventyseven to seventysix. But the Christmas vacation was very far away: but one
time it would come because the earth moved round always.
There was a picture of the earth on the first page of his geography: a big ball in the middle of
clouds. Fleming had a box of crayons and one night during free study he had coloured the
earth green and the clouds maroon. That was like the two brushes in Dante’s press, the brush
with the green velvet back for Parnell and the brush with the maroon velvet back for Michael
Davitt. But he had not told Fleming to colour them those colours. Fleming had done it
himself.
He opened the geography to study the lesson; but he could not learn the names of places in
America. Still they were all different places that had those different names. They were all in
different countries and the countries were in continents and the continents were in the world
and the world was in the universe.
He turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read what he had written there: himself, his
name and where he was.
Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
Sallins
County Kildare
Ireland
Europe
The World
The Universe
That was in his writing: and Fleming one night for a cod had written on the opposite page:
Stephen Dedalus is my name,
Ireland is my nation.
Clongowes is my dwellingplace
And heaven my expectation.
He read the verses backwards but then they were not poetry. Then he read the flyleaf from
the bottom to the top till he came to his own name. That was he: and he read down the page
again. What was after the universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to
show where it stopped before the nothing place began? It could not be a wall but there could
be a thin thin line there all round everything. It was very big to think about everything and
everywhere. Only God could do that. He tried to think what a big thought that must be but he
could think only of God. God was God’s name just as his name was Stephen. Dieu was the
French for God and that was God’s name too; and when anyone prayed to God and said Dieu
then God knew at once that it was a French person that was praying. But though there were
different names for God in all the different languages in the world and God understood what
all the people who prayed said in their different languages still God remained always the same
God and God’s real name was God.
It made him very tired to think that way. It made him feel his head very big. He turned over
the flyleaf and looked wearily at the green round earth in the middle of the maroon clouds. He
wondered which was right, to be for the green or for the maroon, because Dante had ripped
the green velvet back off the brush that was for Parnell one day with her scissors and had toldhim that Parnell was a bad man. He wondered if they were arguing at home about that. That
was called politics. There were two sides in it: Dante was on one side and his father and Mr
Casey were on the other side but his mother and uncle Charles were on no side. Every day
there was something in the paper about it.
It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know
where the universe ended. He felt small and weak. When would he be like the fellows in poetry
and rhetoric? They had big voices and big boots and they studied trigonometry. That was very
far away. First came the vacation and then the next term and then vacation again and then
again another term and then again the vacation. It was like a train going in and out of tunnels
and that was like the noise of the boys eating in the refectory when you opened and closed the
flaps of the ears. Term, vacation; tunnel, out; noise, stop. How far away it was! It was better to
go to bed to sleep. Only prayers in the chapel and then bed. He shivered and yawned. It would
be lovely in bed after the sheets got a bit hot. First they were so cold to get into. He shivered to
think how cold they were first. But then they got hot and then he could sleep. It was lovely to be
tired. He yawned again. Night prayers and then bed: he shivered and wanted to yawn. It would
be lovely in a few minutes. He felt a warm glow creeping up from the cold shivering sheets,
warmer and warmer till he felt warm all over, ever so warm; ever so warm and yet he shivered a
little and still wanted to yawn.
The bell rang for night prayers and he filed out of the studyhall after the others and down
the staircase and along the corridors to the chapel. The corridors were darkly lit and the
chapel was darkly lit. Soon all would be dark and sleeping. There was cold night air in the
chapel and the marbles were the colour the sea was at night. The sea was cold day and night:
but it was colder at night. It was cold and dark under the seawall beside his father’s house. But
the kettle would be on the hob to make punch.
The prefect of the chapel prayed above his head and his memory knew the responses:
O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall announce Thy praise.
Incline unto our aid, O God!
O Lord, make haste to help us!
There was a cold night smell in the chapel. But it was a holy smell. It was not like the smell
of the old peasants who knelt at the back of the chapel at Sunday mass. That was a smell of air
and rain and turf and corduroy. But they were very holy peasants. They breathed behind him
on his neck and sighed as they prayed. They lived in Clane, a fellow said: there were little
cottages there and he had seen a woman standing at the halfdoor of a cottage with a child in
her arms, as the cars had come past from Sallins. It would be lovely to sleep for one night in
that cottage before the fire of smoking turf, in the dark lit by the fire, in the warm dark,
breathing the smell of the peasants, air and rain and turf and corduroy. But, O, the road there
between the trees was dark! You would be lost in the dark. It made him afraid to think of how
it was.
He heard the voice of the prefect of the chapel saying the last prayer. He prayed it too
against the dark outside under the trees.
Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this habitation and drive away from it all the snares of the
enemy. May Thy holy angels dwell herein to preserve us in peace and may Thy blessing be
always upon us through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
His fingers trembled as he undressed himself in the dormitory. He told his fingers to hurry
up. He had to undress and then kneel and say his own prayers and be in bed before the gas
was lowered so that he might not go to hell when he died. He rolled his stockings off and put
on his nightshirt quickly and knelt trembling at his bedside and repeated his prayers quickly
quickly, fearing that the gas would go down. He felt his shoulders shaking as he murmured:
God bless my father and my mother and spare them to me!
God bless my little brothers and sisters and spare them to me!God bless Dante and uncle Charles and spare them to me!
He blessed himself and climbed quickly into bed and, tucking the end of the nightshirt
under his feet, curled himself together under the cold white sheets, shaking and trembling.
But he would not go to hell when he died; and the shaking would stop. A voice bade the boys
in the dormitory goodnight. He peered out for an instant over the coverlet and saw the yellow
curtains round and before his bed that shut him off on all sides. The light was lowered quietly.
The prefect’s shoes went away. Where? Down the staircase and along the corridors or to his
room at the end? He saw the dark. Was it true about the black dog that walked there at night
with eyes as big as carriagelamps? They said it was the ghost of a murderer. A long shiver of
fear flowed over his body. He saw the dark entrance hall of the castle. Old servants in old dress
were in the ironingroom above the staircase. It was long ago. The old servants were quiet.
There was a fire there but the hall was still dark. A figure came up the staircase from the hall.
He wore the white cloak of a marshal; his face was pale and strange; he held his hand pressed
to his side. He looked out of strange eyes at the old servants. They looked at him and saw their
master’s face and cloak and knew that he had received his deathwound. But only the dark was
where they looked: only dark silent air. Their master had received his deathwound on the
battlefield of Prague far away over the sea. He was standing on the field; his hand was pressed
to his side; his face was pale and strange and he wore the white cloak of a marshal.
O how cold and strange it was to think of that! All the dark was cold and strange. There were
pale strange faces there, great eyes like carriagelamps. They were the ghosts of murderers, the
figures of marshals who had received their deathwound on battlefields far away over the sea.
What did they wish to say that their faces were so strange?
Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this habitation and drive away from it all …
Going home for the holidays! That would be lovely: the fellows had told him. Getting up on
the cars in the early wintry morning outside the door of the castle. The cars were rolling on the
gravel. Cheers for the rector!
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
The cars drove past the chapel and all caps were raised. They drove merrily along the
country roads. The drivers pointed with their whips to Bodenstown. The fellows cheered. They
passed the farmhouse of the Jolly Farmer. Cheer after cheer after cheer. Through Clane they
drove, cheering and cheered. The peasant women stood at the halfdoors, the men stood here
and there. The lovely smell there was in the wintry air: the smell of Clane: rain and wintry air
and turf smouldering and corduroy.
The train was full of fellows: a long long chocolate train with cream facings. The guards
went to and fro opening, closing, locking, unlocking the doors. They were men in dark blue
and silver; they had silvery whistles and their keys made a quick music: click, click: click, click.
And the train raced on over the flat lands and past the Hill of Allen. The telegraphpoles were
passing, passing. The train went on and on. It knew. There were coloured lanterns in the hall
of his father’s house and ropes of green branches. There were holly and ivy round the
pierglass and holly and ivy, green and red, twined round the chandeliers. There were red holly
and green ivy round the old portraits on the walls. Holly and ivy for him and for Christmas.
Lovely …
All the people. Welcome home, Stephen! Noises of welcome. His mother kissed him. Was
that right? His father was a marshal now: higher than a magistrate. Welcome home, Stephen!
Noises …
There was a noise of curtainrings running back along the rods, of water being splashed in
the basins. There was a noise of rising and dressing and washing in the dormitory: a noise of
clapping of hands as the prefect went up and down telling the fellows to look sharp. A pale
sunlight showed the yellow curtains drawn back, the tossed beds. His bed was very hot and his
face and body were very hot.
He got up and sat on the side of his bed. He was weak. He tried to pull on his stocking. It had
a horrid rough feel. The sunlight was queer and cold.Fleming said:
—Are you not well?
He did not know; and Fleming said:
—Get back into bed. I’ll tell McGlade you’re not well.
—He’s sick.
—Who is?
—Tell McGlade.
—Get back into bed.
—Is he sick?
A fellow held his arms while he loosened the stocking clinging to his foot and climbed back
into the hot bed.
He crouched down between the sheets, glad of their tepid glow. He heard the fellows talk
among themselves about him as they dressed for mass. It was a mean thing to do, to shoulder
him into the square ditch, they were saying.
Then their voices ceased; they had gone. A voice at his bed said:
—Dedalus, don’t spy on us, sure you won’t?
Wells’s face was there. He looked at it and saw that Wells was afraid.
—I didn’t mean to. Sure you won’t?
His father had told him, whatever he did, never to peach on a fellow. He shook his head and
answered no and felt glad. Wells said:
—I didn’t mean to, honour bright. It was only for cod. I’m sorry.
The face and the voice went away. Sorry because he was afraid. Afraid that it was some
disease. Canker was a disease of plants and cancer one of animals: or another different. That
was a long time ago then out on the playgrounds in the evening light, creeping from point to
point on the fringe of his line, a heavy bird flying low through the grey light. Leicester Abbey lit
up. Wolsey died there. The abbots buried him themselves.
It was not Wells’s face, it was the prefect’s. He was not foxing. No, no: he was sick really. He
was not foxing. And he felt the prefect’s hand on his forehead; and he felt his forehead warm
and damp against the prefect’s cold damp hand. That was the way a rat felt, slimy and damp
and cold. Every rat had two eyes to look out of. Sleek slimy coats, little little feet tucked up to
jump, black shiny eyes to look out of. They could understand how to jump. But the minds of
rats could not understand trigonometry. When they were dead they lay on their sides. Their
coats dried then. They were only dead things.
The prefect was there again and it was his voice that was saying that he was to get up, that
Father Minister had said he was to get up and dress and go to the infirmary. And while he was
dressing himself as quickly as he could the prefect said:
—We must pack off to Brother Michael because we have the collywobbles! Terrible thing to
have the collywobbles! How we wobble when we have the collywobbles!
He was very decent to say that. That was all to make him laugh. But he could not laugh
because his cheeks and lips were all shivery: and then the perfect had to laugh by himself.
The prefect cried:
—Quick march! Hayfoot! Strawfoot!
They went together down the staircase and along the corridor and past the bath. As he
passed the door he remembered with a vague fear the warm turfcoloured bogwater, the warm
moist air, the noise of plunges, the smell of the towels, like medicine.
Brother Michael was standing at the door of the infirmary and from the door of the dark
cabinet on his right came a smell like medicine. That came from the bottles on the shelves.
The prefect spoke to Brother Michael and Brother Michael answered and called the prefect sir.
He had reddish hair mixed with grey and a queer look. It was queer that he would always be a
brother. It was queer too that you could not call him sir because he was a brother and had a
different kind of look. Was he not holy enough or why could he not catch up on the others?
There were two beds in the room and in one bed there was a fellow: and when they went in
he called out:—Hello! It’s young Dedalus! What’s up?
—The sky is up, Brother Michael said.
He was a fellow out of the third of grammar and, while Stephen was undressing, he asked
Brother Michael to bring him a round of buttered toast.
—Ah, do! he said.
—Butter you up! said Brother Michael. You’ll get your walking papers in the morning when
the doctor comes.
—Will I? the fellow said. I’m not well yet.
Brother Michael repeated:
—You’ll get your walking papers, I tell you.
He bent down to rake the fire. He had a long back like the long back of a tramhorse. He
shook the poker gravely and nodded his head at the fellow out of third of grammar.
Then Brother Michael went away and after a while the fellow out of third of grammar
turned in towards the wall and fell asleep.
That was the infirmary. He was sick then. Had they written home to tell his mother and
father? But it would be quicker for one of the priests to go himself to tell them. Or he would
write a letter for the priest to bring.
Dear Mother
I am sick. I want to go home. Please come and take me home. I am in the infirmary.
Your fond son,
Stephen
How far away they were! There was cold sunlight outside the window. He wondered if he
would die. You could die just the same on a sunny day. He might die before his mother came.
Then he would have a dead mass in the chapel like the way the fellows had told him it was
when Little had died. All the fellows would be at the mass, dressed in black, all with sad faces.
Wells too would be there but no fellow would look at him. The rector would be there in a cope
of black and gold and there would be tall yellow candles on the altar and round the
catafalque. And they would carry the coffin out of the chapel slowly and he would be buried in
the little graveyard of the community off the main avenue of limes. And Wells would be sorry
then for what he had done. And the bell would toll slowly.
He could hear the tolling. He said over to himself the song that Brigid had taught him.
Dingdong! The castle bell!
Farewell, my mother!
Bury me in the old churchyard
Beside my eldest brother.
My coffin shall be black,
Six angels at my back,
Two to sing and two to pray
And two to carry my soul away.
How beautiful and sad that was! How beautiful the words were where they said Bury me in
the old churchyard! A tremor passed over his body. How sad and how beautiful! He wanted to
cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. The bell! The
bell! Farewell! O farewell!
The cold sunlight was weaker and Brother Michael was standing at his bedside with a bowl
of beeftea. He was glad for his mouth was hot and dry. He could hear them playing on the
playgrounds. And the day was going on in the college just as if he were there.
Then Brother Michael was going away and the fellow out of third of grammar told him to be
sure and come back and tell him all the news in the paper. He told Stephen that his name was
Athy and that his father kept a lot of racehorses that were spiffing jumpers and that his father
would give a good tip to Brother Michael any time he wanted it because Brother Michael was
very decent and always told him the news out of the paper they got every day up in the castle.There was every kind of news in the paper: accidents, shipwrecks, sports and politics.
—Now it is all about politics in the paper, he said. Do your people talk about that too?
—Yes, Stephen said.
—Mine too, he said.
Then he thought for a moment and said:
—You have a queer name, Dedalus, and I have a queer name too, Athy. My name is the
name of a town. Your name is like Latin.
Then he asked:
—Are you good at riddles?
Stephen answered:
—Not very good.
Then he said:
—Can you answer me this one? Why is the county Kildare like the leg of a fellow’s breeches?
Stephen thought what could be the answer and then said:
—I give it up.
—Because there is a thigh in it, he said. Do you see the joke? Athy is the town in the county
Kildare and a thigh is the other thigh.
—O, I see, Stephen said.
—That’s an old riddle, he said.
After a moment he said:
—I say!
—What? asked Stephen.
—You know, he said, you can ask that riddle another way?
—Can you? said Stephen.
—The same riddle, he said. Do you know the other way to ask it?
—No, said Stephen.
—Can you not think of the other way? he said.
He looked at Stephen over the bedclothes as he spoke. Then he lay back on the pillow and
said:
—There is another way but I won’t tell you what it is.
Why did he not tell it? His father, who kept the racehorses, must be a magistrate too like
Saurin’s father and Nasty Roche’s father. He thought of his own father, of how he sang songs
while his mother played and of how he always gave him a shilling when he asked for sixpence
and he felt sorry for him that he was not a magistrate like the other boys’ fathers. Then why
was he sent to that place with them? But his father had told him that he would be no stranger
there because his granduncle had presented an address to the liberator there fifty years
before. You could know the people of that time by their old dress. It seemed to him a solemn
time: and he wondered if that was the time when the fellows in Clongowes wore blue coats
with brass buttons and yellow waistcoats and caps of rabbitskin and drank beer like grownup
people and kept greyhounds of their own to course the hares with.
He looked at the window and saw that the daylight had grown weaker. There would be
cloudy grey light over the playgrounds. There was no noise on the playgrounds. The class
must be doing the themes or perhaps Father Arnall was reading a legend out of the book.
It was queer that they had not given him any medicine. Perhaps Brother Michael would
bring it back when he came. They said you got stinking stuff to drink when you were in the
infirmary. But he felt better now than before. It would be nice getting better slowly. You could
get a book then. There was a book in the library about Holland. There were lovely foreign
names in it and pictures of strangelooking cities and ships. It made you feel so happy.
How pale the light was at the window! But that was nice. The fire rose and fell on the wall. It
was like waves. Someone had put coal on and he heard voices. They were talking. It was the
noise of the waves. Or the waves were talking among themselves as they rose and fell.
He saw the sea of waves, long dark waves rising and falling, dark under the moonless night.
A tiny light twinkled at the pierhead where the ship was entering: and he saw a multitude ofpeople gathered by the waters’ edge to see the ship that was entering their harbour. A tall man
stood on the deck, looking out towards the flat dark land: and by the light at the pierhead he
saw his face, the sorrowful face of Brother Michael.
He saw him lift his hand towards the people and heard him say in a loud voice of sorrow
over the waters:
—He is dead. We saw him lying upon the catafalque.
A wail of sorrow went up from the people.
—Parnell! Parnell! He is dead!
They fell upon their knees, moaning in sorrow.
And he saw Dante in a maroon velvet dress and with a green velvet mantle hanging from her
shoulders walking proudly and silently past the people who knelt by the waters’ edge.
* * *
A great fire, banked high and red, flamed in the grate and under the ivytwined branches of
the chandelier the Christmas table was spread. They had come home a little late and still
dinner was not ready: but it would be ready in a jiffy, his mother had said. They were waiting
for the door to open and for the servants to come in, holding the big dishes covered with their
heavy metal covers.
All were waiting: uncle Charles, who sat far away in the shadow of the window, Dante and
Mr Casey, who sat in the easychairs at either side of the hearth, Stephen, seated on a chair
between them, his feet resting on the toasted boss. Mr Dedalus looked at himself in the
pierglass above the mantelpiece, waxed out his moustache-ends and then, parting his
coattails, stood with his back to the glowing fire: and still, from time to time, he withdrew a
hand from his coattail to wax out one of his moustache-ends. Mr Casey leaned his head to one
side and, smiling, tapped the gland of his neck with his fingers. And Stephen smiled too for he
knew now that it was not true that Mr Casey had a purse of silver in his throat. He smiled to
think how the silvery noise which Mr Casey used to make had deceived him. And when he had
tried to open Mr Casey’s hand to see if the purse of silver was hidden there he had seen that
the fingers could not be straightened out: and Mr Casey had told him that he had got those
three cramped fingers making a birthday present for Queen Victoria.
Mr Casey tapped the gland of his neck and smiled at Stephen with sleepy eyes: and Mr
Dedalus said to him:
—Yes. Well now, that’s all right. O, we had a good walk, hadn’t we, John? Yes … I wonder if
there’s any likelihood of dinner this evening. Yes…. O, well now, we got a good breath of ozone
round the Head today. Ay, bedad.
He turned to Dante and said:
—You didn’t stir out at all, Mrs Riordan?
Dante frowned and said shortly:
—No.
Mr Dedalus dropped his coattails and went over to the sideboard. He brought forth a great
stone jar of whisky from the locker and filled the decanter slowly, bending now and then to
see how much he had poured in. Then replacing the jar in the locker he poured a little of the
whisky into two glasses, added a little water and came back with them to the fireplace.
—A thimbleful, John, he said, just to whet your appetite.
Mr Casey took the glass, drank, and placed it near him on the mantelpiece. Then he said:
—Well, I can’t help thinking of our friend Christopher manufacturing …
He broke into a fit of laughter and coughing and added:
—… manufacturing that champagne for those fellows.
Mr Dedalus laughed loudly.
—Is it Christy? he said. There’s more cunning in one of those warts on his bald head than
in a pack of jack foxes.
He inclined his head, closed his eyes, and, licking his lips profusely, began to speak with the
voice of the hotelkeeper.
—And he has such a soft mouth when he’s speaking to you, don’t you know. He’s very moistand watery about the dewlaps, God bless him.
Mr Casey was still struggling through his fit of coughing and laughter. Stephen, seeing and
hearing the hotelkeeper through his father’s face and voice, laughed.
Mr Dedalus put up his eyeglass and, staring down at him, said quietly and kindly:
—What are you laughing at, you little puppy, you?
The servants entered and placed the dishes on the table. Mrs Dedalus followed and the
places were arranged.
—Sit over, she said.
Mr Dedalus went to the end of the table and said:
—Now, Mrs Riordan, sit over. John, sit you down, my hearty.
He looked round to where uncle Charles sat and said:
—Now then, sir, there’s a bird here waiting for you.
When all had taken their seats he laid his hand on the cover and then said quickly,
withdrawing it:
—Now, Stephen.
Stephen stood up in his place to say the grace before meals:
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which through Thy bounty we are about to receive
through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
All blessed themselves and Mr Dedalus with a sigh of pleasure lifted from the dish the heavy
cover pearled around the edge with glistening drops.
Stephen looked at the plump turkey which had lain, trussed and skewered, on the kitchen
table. He knew that his father had paid a guinea for it in Dunn’s of D’Olier Street and that the
man had prodded it often at the breastbone to show how good it was: and he remembered the
man’s voice when he had said:
—Take that one, sir. That’s the real Ally Daly.
Why did Mr Barrett in Clongowes call his pandybat a turkey? But Clongowes was far away:
and the warm heavy smell of turkey and ham and celery rose from the plates and dishes and
the great fire was banked high and red in the grate and the green ivy and red holly made you
feel so happy and when dinner was ended the big plumpudding would be carried in, studded
with peeled almonds and springs of holly, with bluish fire running around it and a little green
flag flying from the top.
It was his first Christmas dinner and he thought of his little brothers and sisters who were
waiting in the nursery, as he had often waited, till the pudding came. The deep low collar and
the Eton jacket made him feel queer and oldish: and that morning when his mother had
brought him down to the parlour, dressed for mass, his father had cried. That was because he
was thinking of his own father. And uncle Charles had said so too.
Mr Dedalus covered the dish and began to eat hungrily. Then he said:
—Poor old Christy, he’s nearly lopsided now with roguery.
—Simon, said Mrs Dedalus, you haven’t given Mrs Riordan any sauce.
Mr Dedalus seized the sauceboat.
—Haven’t I? he cried. Mrs Riordan, pity the poor blind.
Dante covered her plate with her hands and said:
—No, thanks.
Mr Dedalus turned to uncle Charles.
—How are you off, sir?
—Right as the mail, Simon.
—You, John?
—I’m all right. Go on yourself.
—Mary? Here, Stephen, here’s something to make your hair curl.
He poured sauce freely over Stephen’s plate and set the boat again on the table. Then he
asked uncle Charles was it tender. Uncle Charles could not speak because his mouth was full
but he nodded that it was.
—That was a good answer our friend made to the canon. What? said Mr Dedalus.—I didn’t think he had that much in him, said Mr Casey.
—I’ll pay you your dues, father, when you cease turning the house of God into a pollingbooth.
—A nice answer, said Dante, for any man calling himself a catholic to give to his priest.
—They have only themselves to blame, said Mr Dedalus suavely. If they took a fool’s advice
they would confine their attention to religion.
—It is religion, Dante said. They are doing their duty in warning the people.
—We go to the house of God, Mr Casey said, in all humility to pray to our Maker and not to
hear election addresses.
—It is religion, Dante said again. They are right. They must direct their flocks.
—And preach politics from the altar, is it? asked Mr Dedalus.
—Certainly, said Dante. It is a question of public morality. A priest would not be a priest if
he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong.
Mrs Dedalus laid down her knife and fork, saying:
—For pity’s sake and for pity sake let us have no political discussion on this day of all days
in the year.
—Quite right, ma’am, said uncle Charles. Now, Simon, that’s quite enough now. Not
another word now.
—Yes, yes, said Mr Dedalus quickly.
He uncovered the dish boldly and said:
—Now then, who’s for more turkey?
Nobody answered. Dante said:
—Nice language for any catholic to use!
—Mrs Riordan, I appeal to you, said Mrs Dedalus, to let the matter drop now.
Dante turned on her and said:
—And am I to sit here and listen to the pastors of my church being flouted?
—Nobody is saying a word against them, said Mr Dedalus, so long as they don’t meddle in
politics.
—The bishops and priests of Ireland have spoken, said Dante, and they must be obeyed.
—Let them leave politics alone, said Mr Casey, or the people may leave their church alone.
—You hear? said Dante turning to Mrs Dedalus.
—Mr Casey! Simon! said Mrs Dedalus. Let it end now.
—Too bad! Too bad! said uncle Charles.
—What? cried Mr Dedalus. Were we to desert him at the bidding of the English people?
—He was no longer worthy to lead, said Dante. He was a public sinner.
—We are all sinners and black sinners, said Mr Casey coldly.
—Woe be to the man by whom the scandal cometh! said Mrs Riordan. It would be better for him
that a millstone were tied about his neck and that he were cast into the depth of the sea rather than
that he should scandalise one of these, my least little ones. That is the language of the Holy Ghost.
—And very bad language if you ask me, said Mr Dedalus coolly.
—Simon! Simon! said uncle Charles. The boy.
—Yes, yes, said Mr Dedalus. I meant about the … I was thinking about the bad language of
that railway porter. Well now, that’s all right. Here, Stephen, show me your plate, old chap. Eat
away now. Here.
He heaped up the food on Stephen’s plate and served uncle Charles and Mr Casey to large
pieces of turkey and splashes of sauce. Mrs Dedalus was eating little and Dante sat with her
hands in her lap. She was red in the face. Mr Dedalus rooted with the carvers at the end of the
dish and said:
—There’s a tasty bit here we call the pope’s nose. If any lady or gentleman …
He held a piece of fowl up on the prong of the carvingfork. Nobody spoke. He put it on his
own plate, saying:
—Well, you can’t say but you were asked. I think I had better eat it myself because I’m not
well in my health lately.
He winked at Stephen and, replacing the dishcover, began to eat again.There was a silence while he ate. Then he said:
—Well now, the day kept up fine after all. There were plenty of strangers down too.
Nobody spoke. He said again:
—I think there were more strangers down than last Christmas.
He looked round at the others whose faces were bent towards their plates and, receiving no
reply, waited for a moment and said bitterly:
—Well, my Christmas dinner has been spoiled anyhow.
—There could be neither luck nor grace, Dante said, in a house where there is no respect for
the pastors of the church.
Mr Dedalus threw his knife and fork noisily on his plate.
—Respect! he said. Is it for Billy with the lip or for the tub of guts up in Armagh? Respect!
—Princes of the church, said Mr Casey with slow scorn.
—Lord Leitrim’s coachman, yes, said Mr Dedalus.
—They are the Lord’s anointed, Dante said. They are an honour to their country.
—Tub of guts, said Mr Dedalus coarsely. He has a handsome face, mind you, in repose. You
should see that fellow lapping up his bacon and cabbage of a cold winter’s day. O Johnny!
He twisted his features into a grimace of heavy bestiality and made a lapping noise with his
lips.
—Really, Simon, said Mrs Dedalus, you should not speak that way before Stephen. It’s not
right.
—O, he’ll remember all this when he grows up, said Dante hotly—the language he heard
against God and religion and priests in his own home.
—Let him remember too, cried Mr Casey to her from across the table, the language with
which the priests and the priests’ pawns broke Parnell’s heart and hounded him into his
grave. Let him remember that too when he grows up.
—Sons of bitches! cried Mr Dedalus. When he was down they turned on him to betray him
and rend him like rats in a sewer. Lowlived dogs! And they look it! By Christ, they look it!
—They behaved rightly, cried Dante. They obeyed their bishops and their priests. Honour to
them!
—Well, it is perfectly dreadful to say that not even for one day in the year, said Mrs Dedalus,
can we be free from these dreadful disputes!
Uncle Charles raised his hands mildly and said:
—Come now, come now, come now! Can we not have our opinions whatever they are
without this bad temper and this bad language? It is too bad surely.
Mrs Dedalus spoke to Dante in a low voice but Dante said loudly:
—I will not say nothing. I will defend my church and my religion when it is insulted and spit
on by renegade catholics.
Mr Casey pushed his plate rudely into the middle of the table and, resting his elbows before
him, said in a hoarse voice to his host:
—Tell me, did I tell you that story about a very famous spit?
—You did not, John, said Mr Dedalus.
—Why then, said Mr Casey, it is a most instructive story. It happened not long ago in the
county Wicklow where we are now.
He broke off and, turning towards Dante, said with quiet indignation:
—And I may tell you, ma’am, that I, if you mean me, am no renegade catholic. I am a
catholic as my father was and his father before him and his father before him again when we
gave up our lives rather than sell our faith.
—The more shame to you now, Dante said, to speak as you do.
—The story, John, said Mr Dedalus smiling. Let us have the story anyhow.
—Catholic indeed! repeated Dante ironically. The blackest protestant in the land would not
speak the language I have heard this evening.
Mr Dedalus began to sway his head to and fro, crooning like a country singer.
—I am no protestant, I tell you again, said Mr Casey flushing.Mr Dedalus, still crooning and swaying his head, began to sing in a grunting nasal tone:
O, come all you Roman catholics
That never went to mass.
He took up his knife and fork again in good humour and set to eating, saying to Mr Casey:
—Let us have the story, John. It will help us to digest.
Stephen looked with affection at Mr Casey’s face which stared across the table over his
joined hands. He liked to sit near him at the fire, looking up at his dark fierce face. But his dark
eyes were never fierce and his slow voice was good to listen to. But why was he then against the
priests? Because Dante must be right then. But he had heard his father say that she was a
spoiled nun and that she had come out of the convent in the Alleghanies when her brother
had got the money from the savages for the trinkets and the chainies. Perhaps that made her
severe against Parnell. And she did not like him to play with Eileen because Eileen was a
protestant and when she was young she knew children that used to play with protestants and
the protestants used to make fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Tower of Ivory, they used to
say, House of Gold! How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of gold? Who was right
then? And he remembered the evening in the infirmary in Clongowes, the dark waters, the
light at the pierhead and the moan of sorrow from the people when they had heard.
Eileen had long white hands. One evening when playing tig she had put her hands over his
eyes: long and white and thin and cold and soft. That was ivory: a cold white thing. That was
the meaning of Tower of Ivory.
—The story is very short and sweet, Mr Casey said. It was one day down in Arklow, a cold
bitter day, not long before the chief died. May God have mercy on him!
He closed his eyes wearily and paused. Mr Dedalus took a bone from his plate and tore some
meat from it with his teeth, saying:
—Before he was killed, you mean.
Mr Casey opened his eyes, sighed and went on:
—It was down in Arklow one day. We were down there at a meeting and after the meeting
was over we had to make our way to the railway station through the crowd. Such booing and
baaing, man, you never heard. They called us all the names in the world. Well there was one
old lady, and a drunken old harridan she was surely, that paid all her attention to me. She kept
dancing along beside me in the mud bawling and screaming into my face: Priesthunter! The
Paris Funds! Mr Fox! Kitty O’Shea!
—And what did you do, John? asked Mr Dedalus.
—I let her bawl away, said Mr Casey. It was a cold day and to keep up my heart I had (saving
your presence, ma’am) a quid of Tullamore in my mouth and sure I couldn’t say a word in any
case because my mouth was full of tobacco juice.
—Well, John?
—Well. I let her bawl away, to her heart’s content, Kitty O’Shea and the rest of it till at last
she called that lady a name that I won’t sully this Christmas board nor your ears, ma’am, nor
my own lips by repeating.
He paused. Mr Dedalus, lifting his head from the bone, asked:
—And what did you do, John?
—Do! said Mr Casey. She stuck her ugly old face up at me when she said it and I had my
mouth full of tobacco juice. I bent down to her and Phth! says I to her like that.
He turned aside and made the act of spitting.
—Phth! says I to her like that, right into her eye.
He clapped a hand to his eye and gave a hoarse scream of pain.
—O Jesus, Mary and Joseph! says she. I’m blinded! I’m blinded and drownded!
He stopped in a fit of coughing and laughter, repeating:
—I’m blinded entirely.
Mr Dedalus laughed loudly and lay back in his chair while uncle Charles swayed his head to
and fro.
Dante looked terribly angry and repeated while they laughed:—Very nice! Ha! Very nice!
It was not nice about the spit in the woman’s eye. But what was the name the woman had
called Kitty O’Shea that Mr Casey would not repeat? He thought of Mr Casey walking through
the crowds of people and making speeches from a wagonette. That was what he had been in
prison for and he remembered that one night Sergeant O’Neill had come to the house and
had stood in the hall, talking in a low voice with his father and chewing nervously at the
chinstrap of his cap. And that night Mr Casey had not gone to Dublin by train but a car had
come to the door and he had heard his father say something about the Cabinteely road.
He was for Ireland and Parnell and so was his father: and so was Dante too for one night at
the band on the esplanade she had hit a gentleman on the head with her umbrella because he
had taken off his hat when the band played God save the Queen at the end.
Mr Dedalus gave a snort of contempt.
—Ah, John, he said. It is true for them. We are an unfortunate priestridden race and always
were and always will be till the end of the chapter.
Uncle Charles shook his head, saying:
—A bad business! A bad business!
Mr Dedalus repeated:
—A priestridden Godforsaken race!
He pointed to the portrait of his grandfather on the wall to his right.
—Do you see that old chap up there, John? he said. He was a good Irishman when there was
no money in the job. He was condemned to death as a whiteboy. But he had a saying about
our clerical friends, that he would never let one of them put his two feet under his mahogany.
Dante broke in angrily:
—If we are a priestridden race we ought to be proud of it! They are the apple of God’s eye.
Touch them not, says Christ, for they are the apple of My eye.
—And can we not love our country then? asked Mr Casey. Are we not to follow the man that
was born to lead us?
—A traitor to his country! replied Dante. A traitor, an adulterer! The priests were right to
abandon him. The priests were always the true friends of Ireland.
—Were they, faith? said Mr Casey.
He threw his fist on the table and, frowning angrily, protruded one finger after another.
—Didn’t the bishops of Ireland betray us in the time of the union when bishop Lanigan
presented an address of loyalty to the Marquess Cornwallis? Didn’t the bishops and priests
sell the aspirations of their country in 1829 in return for catholic emancipation? Didn’t they
denounce the fenian movement from the pulpit and in the confessionbox? And didn’t they
dishonour the ashes of Terence Bellew MacManus?
His face was glowing with anger and Stephen felt the glow rise to his own cheek as the
spoken words thrilled him. Mr Dedalus uttered a guffaw of coarse scorn.
—O, by God, he cried, I forgot little old Paul Cullen! Another apple of God’s eye!
Dante bent across the table and cried to Mr Casey:
—Right! Right! They were always right! God and morality and religion come first.
Mrs Dedalus, seeing her excitement, said to her:
—Mrs Riordan, don’t excite yourself answering them.
—God and religion before everything! Dante cried. God and religion before the world!
Mr Casey raised his clenched fist and brought it down on the table with a crash.
—Very well, then, he shouted hoarsely, if it comes to that, no God for Ireland!
—John! John! cried Mr Dedalus, seizing his guest by the coatsleeve.
Dante stared across the table, her cheeks shaking. Mr Casey struggled up from his chair and
bent across the table towards her, scraping the air from before his eyes with one hand as
though he were tearing aside a cobweb.
—No God for Ireland! he cried. We have had too much God in Ireland. Away with God!
—Blasphemer! Devil! screamed Dante, starting to her feet and almost spitting in his face.
Uncle Charles and Mr Dedalus pulled Mr Casey back into his chair again, talking to himfrom both sides reasonably. He stared before him out of his dark flaming eyes, repeating:
—Away with God, I say!
Dante shoved her chair violently aside and left the table, upsetting her napkinring which
rolled slowly along the carpet and came to rest against the foot of an easychair. Mrs Dedalus
rose quickly and followed her towards the door. At the door Dante turned round violently and
shouted down the room, her cheeks flushed and quivering with rage:
—Devil out of hell! We won! We crushed him to death! Fiend!
The door slammed behind her.
Mr Casey, freeing his arms from his holders, suddenly bowed his head on his hands with a
sob of pain.
—Poor Parnell! he cried loudly. My dead king!
He sobbed loudly and bitterly.
Stephen, raising his terrorstricken face, saw that his father’s eyes were full of tears.
* * *
The fellows talked together in little groups.
One fellow said:
—They were caught near the Hill of Lyons.
—Who caught them?
—Mr Gleeson and the minister. They were on a car.
The same fellow added:
—A fellow in the higher line told me.
Fleming asked:
—But why did they run away, tell us?
—I know why, Cecil Thunder said. Because they had fecked cash out of the rector’s room.
—Who fecked it?
—Kickham’s brother. And they all went shares in it.
But that was stealing. How could they have done that?
—A fat lot you know about it, Thunder! Wells said. I know why they scut.
—Tell us why.
—I was told not to, Wells said.
—O, go on, Wells, all said. You might tell us. We won’t let it out.
Stephen bent forward his head to hear. Wells looked round to see if anyone was coming.
Then he said secretly:
—You know the altar wine they keep in the press in the sacristy?
—Yes.
—Well, they drank that and it was found out who did it by the smell. And that’s why they ran
away, if you want to know.
And the fellow who had spoken first said:
—Yes, that’s what I heard too from the fellow in the higher line.
The fellows were all silent. Stephen stood among them, afraid to speak, listening. A faint
sickness of awe made him feel weak. How could they have done that? He thought of the dark
silent sacristy. There were dark wooden presses there where the crimped surplices lay quietly
folded. It was not the chapel but still you had to speak under your breath. It was a holy place.
He remembered the summer evening he had been there to be dressed as boatbearer, the
evening of the procession to the little altar in the wood. A strange and holy place. The boy that
held the censer had swung it gently to and fro near the door with the silvery cap lifted by the
middle chain to keep the coals lighting. That was called charcoal: and it had burned quietly as
the fellow had swung it gently and had given off a weak sour smell. And then when all were
vested he had stood holding out the boat to the rector and the rector had put a spoonful of
incense in it and it had hissed on the red coals.
The fellows were talking together in little groups here and there on the playground. The
fellows seemed to him to have grown smaller: that was because a sprinter had knocked him
down the day before, a fellow out of second of grammar. He had been thrown by the fellow’smachine lightly on the cinderpath and his spectacles had been broken in three pieces and
some of the grit of the cinders had gone into his mouth.
That was why the fellows seemed to him smaller and farther away and the goalposts so thin
and far and the soft grey sky so high up. But there was no play on the football grounds for
cricket was coming: and some said that Barnes would be the prof and some said it would be
Flowers. And all over the playgrounds they were playing rounders and bowling twisters and
lobs. And from here and from there came the sounds of the cricketbats through the soft grey
air. They said: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain slowly falling in the
brimming bowl.
Athy, who had been silent, said quietly:
—You are all wrong.
All turned towards him eagerly.
—Why?
—Do you know?
—Who told you?
—Tell us, Athy.
Athy pointed across the playground to where Simon Moonan was walking by himself
kicking a stone before him.
—Ask him, he said.
The fellows looked there and then said:
—Why him?
—Is he in it?
—Tell us, Athy. Go on. You might if you know.
Athy lowered his voice and said:
—Do you know why those fellows scut? I will tell you but you must not let on you know.
He paused for a moment and then said mysteriously:
—They were caught with Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle in the square one night.
The fellows looked at him and asked:
—Caught?
—What doing?
Athy said:
—Smugging.
All the fellows were silent: and Athy said:
—And that’s why.
Stephen looked at the faces of the fellows but they were all looking across the playground.
He wanted to ask somebody about it. What did that mean about the smugging in the square?
Why did the five fellows out of the higher line run away for that? It was a joke, he thought.
Simon Moonan had nice clothes and one night he had shown him a ball of creamy sweets
that the fellows of the football fifteen had rolled down to him along the carpet in the middle
of the refectory when he was at the door. It was the night of the match against the Bective
Rangers and the ball was made just like a red and green apple only it opened and it was full of
the creamy sweets. And one day Boyle had said that an elephant had two tuskers instead of
two tusks and that was why he was called Tusker Boyle but some fellows called him Lady Boyle
because he was always at his nails, paring them.
Eileen had long thin cool white hands too because she was a girl. They were like ivory; only
soft. That was the meaning of Tower of Ivory but protestants could not understand it and
made fun of it. One day he had stood beside her looking into the hotel grounds. A waiter was
running up a trail of bunting on the flagstaff and a fox terrier was scampering to and fro on
the sunny lawn. She had put her hand into his pocket where his hand was and he had felt how
cool and thin and soft her hand was. She had said that pockets were funny things to have: and
then all of a sudden she had broken away and had run laughing down the sloping curve of the
path. Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in the sun. Tower of Ivory. House of
Gold. By thinking of things you could understand them.But why in the square? You went there when you wanted to do something. It was all thick
slabs of slate and water trickled all day out of tiny pinholes and there was a queer smell of stale
water there. And behind the door of one of the closets there was a drawing in red pencil of a
bearded man in a Roman dress with a brick in each hand and underneath was the name of
the drawing:
Balbus was building a wall.
Some fellows had drawn it there for a cod. It had a funny face but it was very like a man with
a beard. And on the wall of another closet there was written in backhand in beautiful writing:
Julius Cæsar wrote The Calico Belly.
Perhaps that was why they were there because it was a place where some fellows wrote
things for cod. But all the same it was queer what Athy said and the way he said it. It was not a
cod because they had run away. He looked with the others in silence across the playground
and began to feel afraid.
At last Fleming said:
—And we are all to be punished for what other fellows did?
—I won’t come back, see if I do, Cecil Thunder said. Three days’ silence in the refectory and
sending us up for six and eight every minute.
—Yes, said Wells. And old Barrett has a new way of twisting the note so that you can’t open
it and fold it again to see how many ferulæ you are to get. I won’t come back too.
—Yes, said Cecil Thunder, and the prefect of studies was in second of grammar this
morning.
—Let us get up a rebellion, Fleming said. Will we?
All the fellows were silent. The air was very silent and you could hear the cricketbats but
more slowly than before: pick, pock.
Wells asked:
—What is going to be done to them?
—Simon Moonan and Tusker are going to be flogged, Athy said, and the fellows in the
higher line got their choice of flogging or being expelled.
—And which are they taking? asked the fellow who had spoken first.
—All are taking expulsion except Corrigan, Athy answered. He’s going to be flogged by Mr
Gleeson.
—Is it Corrigan that big fellow? said Fleming. Why, he’d be able for two of Gleeson!
—I know why, Cecil Thunder said. He is right and the other fellows are wrong because a
flogging wears off after a bit but a fellow that has been expelled from college is known all his
life on account of it. Besides Gleeson won’t flog him hard.
—It’s best of his play not to, Fleming said.
—I wouldn’t like to be Simon Moonan and Tusker, Cecil Thunder said. But I don’t believe
they will be flogged. Perhaps they will be sent up for twice nine.
—No, no, said Athy. They’ll both get it on the vital spot.
Wells rubbed himself and said in a crying voice:
—Please, sir, let me off!
Athy grinned and turned up the sleeves of his jacket, saying:
It can’t be helped;
It must be done.
So down with your breeches
And out with your bum.
The fellows laughed; but he felt that they were a little afraid. In the silence of the soft grey air
he heard the cricketbats from here and from there: pock. That was a sound to hear but if you
were hit then you would feel a pain. The pandybat made a sound too but not like that. The
fellows said it was made of whalebone and leather with lead inside: and he wondered what
was the pain like. There were different kinds of pains for all the different kinds of sounds. A
long thin cane would have a high whistling sound and he wondered what was that pain like. It
made him shivery to think of it and cold: and what Athy said too. But what was there to laughat in it? It made him shivery: but that was because you always felt like a shiver when you let
down your trousers. It was the same in the bath when you undressed yourself. He wondered
who had to let them down, the master or the boy himself. O how could they laugh about it that
way?
He looked at Athy’s rolledup sleeves and knuckly inky hands. He had rolled up his sleeves to
show how Mr Gleeson would roll up his sleeves. But Mr Gleeson had round shiny cuffs and
clean white wrists and fattish white hands and the nails of them were long and pointed.
Perhaps he pared them too like Lady Boyle. But they were terribly long and pointed nails. So
long and cruel they were though the white fattish hands were not cruel but gentle. And though
he trembled with cold and fright to think of the cruel long nails and of the high whistling
sound of the cane and of the chill you felt at the end of your shirt when you undressed yourself
yet he felt a feeling of queer quiet pleasure inside him to think of the white fattish hands, clean
and strong and gentle. And he thought of what Cecil Thunder had said; that Mr Gleeson
would not flog Corrigan hard. And Fleming had said he would not because it was best of his
play not to. But that was not why.
A voice from far out on the playground cried:
—All in!
And other voices cried:
—All in! All in!
During the writing lesson he sat with his arms folded, listening to the slow scraping of the
pens. Mr Harford went to and fro making little signs in red pencil and sometimes sitting
beside the boy to show him how to hold the pen. He had tried to spell out the headline for
himself though he knew already what it was for it was the last of the book. Zeal without
prudence is like a ship adrift. But the lines of the letters were like fine invisible threads and it was
only by closing his right eye tight tight and staring out of the left eye that he could make out
the full curves of the capital.
But Mr Harford was very decent and never got into a wax. All the other masters got into
dreadful waxes. But why were they to suffer for what fellows in the higher line did? Wells had
said that they had drunk some of the altar wine out of the press in the sacristy and that it had
been found out who had done it by the smell. Perhaps they had stolen a monstrance to run
away with it and sell it somewhere. That must have been a terrible sin, to go in there quietly at
night, to open the dark press and steal the flashing gold thing into which God was put on the
altar in the middle of flowers and candles at benediction while the incense went up in clouds
at both sides as the fellow swung the censer and Dominic Kelly sang the first part by himself in
the choir. But God was not in it of course when they stole it. But still it was a strange and a
great sin even to touch it. He thought of it with deep awe; a terrible and strange sin: it thrilled
him to think of it in the silence when the pens scraped lightly. But to drink the altar wine out
of the press and be found out by the smell was a sin too: but it was not terrible and strange. It
only made you feel a little sickish on account of the smell of the wine. Because on the day
when he had made his first holy communion in the chapel he had shut his eyes and opened
his mouth and put out his tongue a little: and when the rector had stooped down to give him
the holy communion he had smelt a faint winy smell off the rector’s breath after the wine of
the mass. The word was beautiful: wine. It made you think of dark purple because the grapes
were dark purple that grew in Greece outside houses like white temples. But the faint smell off
the rector’s breath had made him feel a sick feeling on the morning of his first communion.
The day of your first communion was the happiest day of your life. And once a lot of generals
had asked Napoleon what was the happiest day of his life. They thought he would say the day
he won some great battle or the day he was made an emperor. But he said:
—Gentlemen, the happiest day of my life was the day on which I made my first holy
communion.
Father Arnall came in and the Latin lesson began and he remained still, leaning on the desk
with his arms folded. Father Arnall gave out the themebooks and he said that they were
scandalous and that they were all to be written out again with the corrections at once. But theworst of all was Fleming’s theme because the pages were stuck together by a blot: and Father
Arnall held it up by a corner and said it was an insult to any master to send him up such a
theme. Then he asked Jack Lawton to decline the noun mare and Jack Lawton stopped at the
ablative singular and could not go on with the plural.
—You should be ashamed of yourself, said Father Arnall sternly. You, the leader of the
class!
Then he asked the next boy and the next and the next. Nobody knew. Father Arnall became
very quiet, more and more quiet as each boy tried to answer and could not. But his face was
blacklooking and his eyes were staring though his voice was so quiet. Then he asked Fleming
and Fleming said that that word had no plural. Father Arnall suddenly shut the book and
shouted at him:
—Kneel out there in the middle of the class. You are one of the idlest boys I ever met. Copy
out your themes again the rest of you.
Fleming moved heavily out of his place and knelt between the two last benches. The others
boys bent over their themebooks and began to write. A silence filled the classroom and
Stephen, glacing timidly at Father Arnall’s dark face, saw that it was a little red from the wax
he was in.
Was that a sin for Father Arnall to be in a wax or was he allowed to get into a wax when the
boys were idle because that made them study better or was he only letting on to be in a wax? It
was because he was allowed because a priest would know what a sin was and would not do it.
But if he did it one time by mistake what would he do to go to confession? Perhaps he would
go to confession to the minister. And if the minister did it he would go to the rector: and the
rector to the provincial: and the provincial to the general of the jesuits. That was called the
order: and he had heard his father say that they were all clever men. They could all have
become highup people in the world if they had not become jesuits. And he wondered what
Father Arnall and Paddy Barrett would have become and what Mr McGlade and Mr Gleeson
would have become if they had not become jesuits. It was hard to think what because you
would have to think of them in a different way with different coloured coats and trousers and
with beards and moustaches and different kinds of hats.
The door opened quietly and closed. A quick whisper ran through the class: the prefect of
studies. There was an instant of dead silence and then the loud crack of a pandybat on the last
desk. Stephen’s heart leapt up in fear.
—Any boys want flogging here, Father Arnall? cried the prefect of studies. Any lazy idle
loafers that want flogging in this class?
He came to the middle of the class and saw Fleming on his knees.
—Hoho! he cried. Who is this boy? Why is he on his knees? What is your name, boy?
—Fleming, sir.
—Hoho, Fleming! An idler of course. I can see it in your eye. Why is he on his knees, Father
Arnall?
—He wrote a bad Latin theme, Father Arnall said, and he missed all the questions in
grammar.
—Of course he did! cried the prefect of studies. Of course he did! A born idler! I can see it in
the corner of his eye.
He banged his pandybat down on the desk and cried:
—Up, Fleming! Up, my boy!
Fleming stood up slowly.
—Hold out! cried the prefect of studies.
Fleming held out his hand. The pandybat came down on it with a loud smacking sound:
one, two, three, four, five, six.
—Other hand!
The pandybat came down again in six loud quick smacks.
—Kneel down! cried the prefect of studies.
Fleming knelt down squeezing his hands under his armpits, his face contorted with pain,but Stephen knew how hard his hands were because Fleming was always rubbing rosin into
them. But perhaps he was in great pain for the noise of the pandies was terrible. Stephen’s
heart was beating and fluttering.
—At your work, all of you! shouted the prefect of studies. We want no lazy idle loafers here,
lazy idle little schemers. At your work, I tell you. Father Dolan will be in to see you every day.
Father Dolan will be in tomorrow.
He poked one of the boys in the side with the pandybat, saying:
—You, boy! When will Father Dolan be in again?
—Tomorrow, sir, said Tom Furlong’s voice.
—Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, said the prefect of studies. Make up your minds
for that. Every day Father Dolan. Write away. You, boy, who are you?
Stephen’s heart jumped suddenly.
—Dedalus, sir.
—Why are you not writing like the others?
—I … my …
He could not speak with fright.
—Why is he not writing, Father Arnall?
—He broke his glasses, said Father Arnall, and I exempted him from work.
—Broke? What is this I hear? What is this your name is? said the prefect of studies.
—Dedalus, sir.
—Out here, Dedalus. Lazy little schemer. I see schemer in your face. Where did you break
your glasses?
Stephen stumbled into the middle of the class, blinded by fear and haste.
—Where did you break your glasses? repeated the prefect of studies.
—The cinderpath, sir.
—Hoho! The cinderpath! cried the prefect of studies. I know that trick.
Stephen lifted his eyes in wonder and saw for a moment Father Dolan’s whitegrey not
young face, his baldy whitegrey head with fluff at the sides of it, the steel rims of his spectacles
and his nocoloured eyes looking through the glasses. Why did he say he knew that trick?
—Lazy idle little loafer! cried the prefect of studies. Broke my glasses! An old schoolboy
trick! Out with your hand this moment!
Stephen closed his eyes and held out in the air his trembling hand with the palm upwards.
He felt the prefect of studies touch it for a moment at the fingers to straighten it and then the
swish of the sleeve of the soutane as the pandybat was lifted to strike. A hot burning stinging
tingling blow like the loud crack of a broken stick made his trembling hand crumple together
like a leaf in the fire: and at the sound and the pain scalding tears were driven into his eyes. His
whole body was shaking with fright, his arm was shaking and his crumpled burning livid
hand shook like a loose leaf in the air. A cry sprang to his lips, a prayer to be let off. But though
the tears scalded his eyes and his limbs quivered with pain and fright he held back the hot
tears and the cry that scalded his throat.
—Other hand! shouted the prefect of studies.
Stephen drew back his maimed and quivering right arm and held out his left hand. The
soutane sleeve swished again as the pandybat was lifted and a loud crashing sound and a
fierce maddening tingling burning pain made his hand shrink together with the palms and
fingers in a livid quivering mass. The scalding water burst forth from his eyes and, burning
with shame and agony and fear, he drew back his shaking arm in terror and burst out into a
whine of pain. His body shook with a palsy of fright and in shame and rage he felt the scalding
cry come from his throat and the scalding tears falling out of his eyes and down his flaming
cheeks.
—Kneel down! cried the prefect of studies.
Stephen knelt down quickly pressing his beaten hands to his sides. To think of them beaten
and swollen with pain all in a moment made him feel so sorry for them as if they were not his
own but someone else’s that he felt sorry for. And as he knelt, calming the last sobs in histhroat and feeling the burning tingling pain pressed in to his sides, he thought of the hands
which he had held out in the air with the palms up and of the firm touch of the prefect of
studies when he had steadied the shaking fingers and of the beaten swollen reddened mass of
palm and fingers that shook helplessly in the air.
—Get at your work, all of you, cried the prefect of studies from the door. Father Dolan will
be in every day to see if any boy, any lazy idle little loafer wants flogging. Every day. Every day.
The door closed behind him.
The hushed class continued to copy out the themes. Father Arnall rose from his seat and
went among them, helping the boys with gentle words and telling them the mistakes they had
made. His voice was very gentle and soft. Then he returned to his seat and said to Fleming and
Stephen:
—You may return to your places, you two.
Fleming and Stephen rose and, walking to their seats, sat down. Stephen, scarlet with
shame, opened a book quickly with one weak hand and bent down upon it, his face close to
the page.
It was unfair and cruel because the doctor had told him not to read without glasses and he
had written home to his father that morning to send him a new pair. And Father Arnall had
said that he need not study till the new glasses came. Then to be called a schemer before the
class and to be pandied when he always got the card for first or second and was the leader of
the Yorkists! How could the prefect of studies know that it was a trick? He felt the touch of the
prefect’s fingers as they had steadied his hand and at first he had thought he was going to
shake hands with him because the fingers were soft and firm: but then in an instant he had
heard the swish of the soutane sleeve and the crash. It was cruel and unfair to make him kneel
in the middle of the class then: and Father Arnall had told them both that they might return
to their places without making any difference between them. He listened to Father Arnall’s
low and gentle voice as he corrected the themes. Perhaps he was sorry now and wanted to be
decent. But it was unfair and cruel. The prefect of studies was a priest but that was cruel and
unfair. And his whitegrey face and the nocoloured eyes behind the steelrimmed spectacles
were cruel looking because he had steadied the hand first with his firm soft fingers and that
was to hit it better and louder.
—It’s a stinking mean thing, that’s what it is, said Fleming in the corridor as the classes
were passing out in file to the refectory, to pandy a fellow for what is not his fault.
—You really broke your glasses by accident, didn’t you? Nasty Roche asked.
Stephen felt his heart filled by Fleming’s words and did not answer.
—Of course he did! said Fleming. I wouldn’t stand it. I’d go up and tell the rector on him.
—Yes, said Cecil Thunder eagerly, and I saw him lift the pandybat over his shoulder and
he’s not allowed to do that.
—Did they hurt much? Nasty Roche asked.
—Very much, Stephen said.
—I wouldn’t stand it, Fleming repeated, from Baldyhead or any other Baldyhead. It’s a
stinking mean low trick, that’s what it is. I’d go straight up to the rector and tell him about it
after dinner.
—Yes, do. Yes, do, said Cecil Thunder.
—Yes, do. Yes, go up and tell the rector on him, Dedalus, said Nasty Roche, because he said
that he’d come in tomorrow again to pandy you.
—Yes, yes. Tell the rector, all said.
And there were some fellows out of second of grammar listening and one of them said:
—The senate and the Roman people declared that Dedalus had been wrongly punished.
It was wrong; it was unfair and cruel: and, as he sat in the refectory, he suffered time after
time in memory the same humiliation until he began to wonder whether it might not really be
that there was something in his face which made him look like a schemer and he wished he
had a little mirror to see. But there could not be; and it was unjust and cruel and unfair.
He could not eat the blackish fish fritters they got on Wednesdays in Lent and one of hispotatoes had the mark of the spade in it. Yes, he would do what the fellows had told him. He
would go up and tell the rector that he had been wrongly punished. A thing like that had been
done before by somebody in history, by some great person whose head was in the books of
history. And the rector would declare that he had been wrongly punished because the senate
and the Roman people always declared that the men who did that had been wrongly
punished. Those were the great men whose names were in Richmal Magnall’s Questions.
History was all about those men and what they did and that was what Peter Parley’s Tales
about Greece and Rome were all about. Peter Parley himself was on the first page in a picture.
There was a road over a heath with grass at the side and little bushes: and Peter Parley had a
broad hat like a protestant minister and a big stick and he was walking fast along the road to
Greece and Rome.
It was easy what he had to do. All he had to do was when the dinner was over and he came
out in his turn to go on walking but not out to the corridor but up the staircase on the right
that led to the castle. He had nothing to do but that: to turn to the right and walk fast up the
staircase and in half a minute he would be in the low dark narrow corridor that led through
the castle to the rector’s room. And every fellow had said that it was unfair, even the fellow out
of second of grammar who had said that about the senate and the Roman people.
What would happen? He heard the fellows of the higher line stand up at the top of the
refectory and heard their steps as they came down the matting: Paddy Rath and Jimmy Magee
and the Spaniard and the Portuguese and the fifth was big Corrigan who was going to be
flogged by Mr Gleeson. That was why the prefect of studies had called him a schemer and
pandied him for nothing: and, straining his weak eyes, tired with the tears, he watched big
Corrigan’s broad shoulders and big hanging black head passing in the file. But he had done
something and besides Mr Gleeson would not flog him hard: and he remembered how big
Corrigan looked in the bath. He had skin the same colour as the turfcoloured bogwater in the
shallow end of the bath and when he walked along the side his feet slapped loudly on the wet
tiles and at every step his thighs shook a little because he was fat.
The refectory was half empty and the fellows were still passing out in file. He could go up the
staircase because there was never a priest or a prefect outside the refectory door. But he could
not go. The rector would side with the prefect of studies and think it was a schoolboy trick and
then the prefect of studies would come in every day the same only it would be worse because
he would be dreadfully waxy at any fellow going up to the rector about him. The fellows had
told him to go but they would not go themselves. They had forgotten all about it. No, it was
best to forget all about it and perhaps the prefect of studies had only said he would come in.
No, it was best to hide out of the way because when you were small and young you could often
escape that way.
The fellows at his table stood up. He stood up and passed out among them in the file. He
had to decide. He was coming near the door. If he went on with the fellows he could never go
up to the rector because he could not leave the playground for that. And if he went and was
pandied all the same all the fellows would make fun and talk about young Dedalus going up to
the rector to tell on the prefect of studies.
He was walking down along the matting and he saw the door before him. It was impossible:
he could not. He thought of the baldy head of the prefect of studies with the cruel nocoloured
eyes looking at him and he heard the voice of the prefect of studies asking him twice what his
name was. Why could he not remember the name when he was told the first time? Was he not
listening the first time or was it to make fun out of the name? The great men in the history had
names like that and nobody made fun of them. It was his own name that he should have
made fun of if he wanted to make fun. Dolan: it was like the name of a woman that washed
clothes.
He had reached the door and, turning quickly up to the right, walked up the stairs and,
before he could make up his mind to come back, he had entered the low dark narrow corridor
that led to the castle. And as he crossed the threshold of the door of the corridor he saw,
without turning his head to look, that all the fellows were looking after him as they went filingby.
He passed along the narrow dark corridor, passing little doors that were the doors of the
rooms of the community. He peered in front of him and right and left through the gloom and
thought that those must be portraits. It was dark and silent and his eyes were weak and tired
with tears so that he could not see. But he thought they were the portraits of the saints and
great men of the order who were looking down on him silently as he passed: saint Ignatius
Loyola holding an open book and pointing to the words Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam in it, saint
Francis Xavier pointing to his chest, Lorenzo Ricci with his berretta on his head like one of the
prefects of the lines, the three patrons of holy youth, saint Stanislaus Kostka, saint Aloysius
Gonzaga and blessed John Berchmans, all with young faces because they died when they were
young, and Father Peter Kenny sitting in a chair wrapped in a big cloak.
He came out on the landing above the entrance hall and looked about him. That was where
Hamilton Rowan had passed and the marks of the soldiers’ slugs were there. And it was there
that the old servants had seen the ghost in the white cloak of a marshal.
An old servant was sweeping at the end of the landing. He asked him where was the rector’s
room and the old servant pointed to the door at the far end and looked after him as he went
on to it and knocked.
There was no answer. He knocked again more loudly and his heart jumped when he heard a
muffled voice say:
—Come in!
He turned the handle and opened the door and fumbled for the handle of the green baize
door inside. He found it and pushed it open and went in.
He saw the rector sitting at a desk writing. There was a skull on the desk and a strange
solemn smell in the room like the old leather of chairs.
His heart was beating fast on account of the solemn place he was in and the silence of the
room: and he looked at the skull and at the rector’s kindlooking face.
—Well, my little man, said the rector, what is it?
Stephen swallowed down the thing in his throat and said:
—I broke my glasses, sir.
The rector opened his mouth and said:
—O!
Then he smiled and said:
—Well, if we broke our glasses we must write home for a new pair.
—I wrote home, sir, said Stephen, and Father Arnall said I am not to study till they come.
—Quite right! said the rector.
Stephen swallowed down the thing again and tried to keep his legs and his voice from
shaking.
—But, sir …
—Yes?
—Father Dolan came in today and pandied me because I was not writing my theme.
The rector looked at him in silence and he could feel the blood rising to his face and the
tears about to rise to his eyes.
The rector said:
—Your name is Dedalus, isn’t it?
—Yes, sir.
—And where did you break your glasses?
—On the cinderpath, sir. A fellow was coming out of the bicycle house and I fell and they
got broken. I don’t know the fellow’s name.
The rector looked at him again in silence. Then he smiled and said:
—O, well, it was a mistake; I am sure Father Dolan did not know.
—But I told him I broke them, sir, and he pandied me.
—Did you tell him that you had written home for a new pair? the rector asked.
—No, sir.—O well then, said the rector, Father Dolan did not understand. You can say that I excuse
you from your lessons for a few days.
Stephen said quickly for fear his trembling would prevent him:
—Yes, sir, but Father Dolan said he will come in tomorrow to pandy me again for it.
—Very well, the rector said, it is a mistake and I shall speak to Father Dolan myself. Will that
do now?
Stephen felt the tears wetting his eyes and murmured:
—O yes sir, thanks.
The rector held his hand across the side of the desk where the skull was and Stephen,
placing his hand in it for a moment, felt a cool moist palm.
—Good day now, said the rector, withdrawing his hand and bowing.
—Good day, sir, said Stephen.
He bowed and walked quietly out of the room, closing the doors carefully and slowly.
But when he had passed the old servant on the landing and was again in the low narrow
dark corridor he began to walk faster and faster. Faster and faster he hurried on through the
gloom excitedly. He bumped his elbow against the door at the end and, hurrying down the
staircase, walked quickly through the two corridors and out into the air.
He could hear the cries of the fellows on the playgrounds. He broke into a run and, running
quicker and quicker, ran across the cinderpath and reached the third line playground,
panting.
The fellows had seen him running. They closed round him in a ring, pushing one against
another to hear.
—Tell us! Tell us!
—What did he say?
—Did you go in?
—What did he say?
—Tell us! Tell us!
He told them what he had said and what the rector had said and, when he had told them,
all the fellows flung their caps spinning up into the air and cried:
—Hurroo!
They caught their caps and sent them up again spinning skyhigh and cried again:
—Hurroo! Hurroo!
They made a cradle of their locked hands and hoisted him up among them and carried him
along till he struggled to get free. And when he had escaped from them they broke away in all
directions, flinging their caps again into the air and whistling as they went spinning up and
crying:
—Hurroo!
And they gave three groans for Baldyhead Dolan and three cheers for Conmee and they said
he was the decentest rector that was ever in Clongowes.
The cheers died away in the soft grey air. He was alone. He was happy and free: but he would
not be anyway proud with Father Dolan. He would be very quiet and obedient: and he wished
that he could do something kind for him to show him that he was not proud.
The air was soft and grey and mild and evening was coming. There was the smell of evening
in the air, the smell of the fields in the country where they digged up turnips to peel them and
eat them when they went out for a walk to Major Barton’s, the smell there was in the little
wood beyond the pavilion where the gallnuts were.
The fellows were practising long shies and bowing lobs and slow twisters. In the soft grey
silence he could hear the bump of the balls: and from here and from there through the quiet
air the sound of the cricket bats: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain
falling softly in the brimming bowl.
® II
U n c l e Charles smoked such black twist that at last his nephew suggested to him to enjoy his
morning smoke in a little outhouse at the end of the garden.
—Very good, Simon. All serene, Simon, said the old man tranquilly. Anywhere you like. The
outhouse will do me nicely: it will be more salubrious.
—Damn me, said Mr Dedalus frankly, if I know how you can smoke such villainous awful
tobacco. It’s like gunpowder, by God.
—It’s very nice, Simon, replied the old man. Very cool and mollifying.
Every morning, therefore, uncle Charles repaired to his outhouse but not before he had
creased and brushed scrupulously his back hair and brushed and put on his tall hat. While he
smoked the brim of his tall hat and the bowl of his pipe were just visible beyond the jambs of
the outhouse door. His arbour, as he called the reeking outhouse which he shared with the cat
and the garden tools, served him also as a soundingbox: and every morning he hummed
contentedly one of his favourite songs: O, twine me a bower or Blue eyes and golden hair or The
Groves of Blarney while the grey and blue coils of smoke rose slowly from his pipe and
vanished in the pure air.
During the first part of the summer in Blackrock uncle Charles was Stephen’s constant
companion. Uncle Charles was a hale old man with a welltanned skin, rugged features and
white side whiskers. On week days he did messages between the house in Carysfort Avenue
and those shops in the main street of the town with which the family dealt. Stephen was glad
to go with him on these errands for uncle Charles helped him very liberally to handfuls of
whatever was exposed in open boxes and barrels outside the counter. He would seize a
handful of grapes and sawdust or three or four American apples and thrust them generously
into his grandnephew’s hand while the shopman smiled uneasily; and, on Stephen’s feigning
reluctance to take them, he would frown and say:
—Take them, sir. Do you hear me, sir? They’re good for your bowels.
When the order list had been booked the two would go on to the park where an old friend of
Stephen’s father, Mike Flynn, would be found seated on a bench, waiting for them. Then
would begin Stephen’s run round the park. Mike Flynn would stand at the gate near the
railway station, watch in hand, while Stephen ran round the track in the style Mike Flynn
favoured, his head high lifted, his knees well lifted and his hands held straight down by his
sides. When the morning practice was over the trainer would make his comments and
sometimes illustrate them by shuffling along for a yard or so comically in an old pair of blue
canvas shoes. A small ring of wonderstruck children and nursemaids would gather to watch
him and linger even when he and uncle Charles had sat down again and were talking athletics
and politics. Though he had heard his father say that Mike Flynn had put some of the best
runners of modern times through his hands Stephen often glanced with mistrust at his
trainer’s flabby stubblecovered face, as it bent over the long stained fingers through which he
rolled his cigarette, and with pity at the mild lustreless blue eyes which would look up
suddenly from the task and gaze vaguely into the blue distance while the long swollen fingers
ceased their rolling and grains and fibres of tobacco fell back into the pouch.
On the way home uncle Charles would often pay a visit to the chapel and, as the font was
above Stephen’s reach, the old man would dip his hand and then sprinkle the water briskly
about Stephen’s clothes and on the floor of the porch. While he prayed he knelt on his red
handkerchief and read above his breath from a thumbblackened prayerbook wherein
catchwords were printed at the foot of every page. Stephen knelt at his side respecting, though
he did not share, his piety. He often wondered what his granduncle prayed for so seriously.
Perhaps he prayed for the souls in purgatory or for the grace of a happy death or perhaps heprayed that God might send him back a part of the big fortune he had squandered in Cork.
On Sundays Stephen with his father and his granduncle took their constitutional. The old
man was a nimble walker in spite of his corns and often ten or twelve miles of the road were
covered. The little village of Stillorgan was the parting of the ways. Either they went to the left
towards the Dublin mountains or along the Goatstown road and thence into Dundrum,
coming home by Sandyford. Trudging along the road or standing in some grimy wayside
publichouse his elders spoke constantly of the subjects nearer their hearts, of Irish politics, of
Munster and of the legends of their own family, to all of which Stephen lent an avid ear.
Words which he did not understand he said over and over to himself till he had learned them
by heart: and through them he had glimpses of the real world about him. The hour when he
too would take part in the life of that world seemed drawing near and in secret he began to
make ready for the great part which he felt awaited him the nature of which he only dimly
apprehended.
His evenings were his own; and he pored over a ragged translation of The Count of Monte
Cristo. The figure of that dark avenger stood forth in his mind for whatever he had heard or
divined in childhood of the strange and terrible. At night he built up on the parlour table an
image of the wonderful island cave out of transfers and paper flowers and coloured tissue
paper and strips of the silver and golden paper in which chocolate is wrapped. When he had
broken up this scenery, weary of its tinsel, there would come to his mind the bright picture of
Marseilles, of sunny trellisses and of Mercedes. Outside Blackrock, on the road that led to the
mountains, stood a small whitewashed house in the garden of which grew many rosebushes:
and in this house, he told himself, another Mercedes lived. Both on the outward and on the
homeward journey he measured distance by this landmark: and in his imagination he lived
through a long train of adventures, marvellous as those in the book itself, towards the close of
which there appeared an image of himself, grown older and sadder, standing in a moonlit
garden with Mercedes who had so many years before slighted his love, and with a sadly proud
gesture of refusal, saying:
—Madam, I never eat muscatel grapes.
He became the ally of a boy named Aubrey Mills and founded with him a gang of
adventurers in the avenue. Aubrey carried a whistle dangling from his buttonhole and a
bicycle lamp attached to his belt while the others had short sticks thrust daggerwise through
theirs. Stephen, who had read of Napoleon’s plain style of dress, chose to remain unadorned
and thereby heightened for himself the pleasure of taking counsel with his lieutenant before
giving orders. The gang made forays into the gardens of old maids or went down to the castle
and fought a battle on the shaggy weedgrown rocks, coming home after it weary stragglers
with the stale odours of the foreshore in their nostrils and the rank oils of the seawrack upon
their hands and in their hair.
Aubrey and Stephen had a common milkman and often they drove out in the milkcar to
Carrickmines where the cows were at grass. While the men were milking the boys would take
turns in riding the tractable mare round the field. But when autumn came the cows were
driven home from the grass: and the first sight of the filthy cowyard at Stradbrook with its foul
green puddles and clots of liquid dung and steaming brantroughs sickened Stephen’s heart.
The cattle which had seemed so beautiful in the country on sunny days revolted him and he
could not even look at the milk they yielded.
The coming of September did not trouble him this year for he was not to be sent back to
Clongowes. The practice in the park came to an end when Mike Flynn went into hospital.
Aubrey was at school and had only an hour or two free in the evening. The gang fell asunder
and there were no more nightly forays or battles on the rocks. Stephen sometimes went round
with the car which delivered the evening milk: and these chilly drives blew away his memory of
the filth of the cowyard and he felt no repugnance at seeing the cowhairs and hayseeds on the
milkman’s coat. Whenever the car drew up before a house he waited to catch a glimpse of a
wellscrubbed kitchen or of a softlylighted hall and to see how the servant would hold the jug
and how she would close the door. He thought it should be a pleasant life enough, drivingalong the roads every evening to deliver milk, if he had warm gloves and a fat bag of
gingernuts in his pocket to eat from. But the same foreknowledge which had sickened his
heart and made his legs sag suddenly as he raced round the park, the same intuition which
had made him glance with mistrust at his trainer’s flabby stubblecovered face as it bent
heavily over his long stained fingers, dissipated any vision of the future. In a vague way he
understood that his father was in trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not
been sent back to Clongowes. For some time he had felt the slight changes in his house; and
these changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish
conception of the world. The ambition which he felt astir at times in the darkness of his soul
sought no outlet. A dusk like that of the outer world obscured his mind as he heard the mare’s
hoofs clattering along the tramtrack on the Rock Road and the great can swaying and rattling
behind him.
He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his
blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along
the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a
tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their
silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was
different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the
unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or
how: but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt
act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had
made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be
alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he
would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a
moment, he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from
him in that magic moment.
* * *
Two great yellow caravans had halted one morning before the door and men had come
tramping into the house to dismantle it. The furniture had been hustled out through the front
garden which was strewn with wisps of straw and rope ends and into the huge vans at the
gate. When all had been safetly stowed the vans had set off noisily down the avenue: and from
the window of the railway carriage, in which he had sat with his redeyed mother, Stephen had
seen them lumbering heavily along the Merrion Road.
The parlour fire would not draw that evening and Mr Dedalus rested the poker against the
bars of the grate to attract the flame. Uncle Charles dozed in a corner of the half furnished
uncarpeted room and near him the family portraits leaned against the wall. The lamp on the
table shed a weak light over the boarded floor, muddied by the feet of the vanmen. Stephen sat
on a footstool beside his father listening to a long and incoherent monologue. He understood
little or nothing of it at first but he became slowly aware that his father had enemies and that
some fight was going to take place. He felt too that he was being enlisted for the fight, that
some duty was being laid upon his shoulders. The sudden flight from the comfort and revery
of Blackrock, the passage through the gloomy foggy city, the thought of the bare cheerless
house in which they were now to live made his heart heavy: and again an intuition or
foreknowledge of the future came to him. He understood also why the servants had often
whispered together in the hall and why his father had often stood on the hearthrug, with his
back to the fire, talking loudly to uncle Charles who urged him to sit down and eat his dinner.
—There’s a crack of the whip left in me yet, Stephen, old chap, said Mr Dedalus, poking at
the dull fire with fierce energy. We’re not dead yet, sonny. No, by the Lord Jesus (God forgive
me) nor half dead.
Dublin was a new and complex sensation. Uncle Charles had grown so witless that he could
no longer be sent out on errands and the disorder in settling in the new house left Stephen
freer than he had been in Blackrock. In the beginning he contented himself with circling
timidly round the neighbouring square or, at most, going half way down one of the sidestreets: but when he had made a skeleton map of the city in his mind he followed boldly one of
its central lines until he reached the customhouse. He passed unchallenged among the docks
and along the quays wondering at the multitude of corks that lay bobbing on the surface of
the water in a thick yellow scum, at the crowds of quay porters and the rumbling carts and the
illdressed bearded policeman. The vastness and strangeness of the life suggested to him by
the bales of merchandise stocked along the walls or swung aloft out of the holds of steamers
wakened again in him the unrest which had sent him wandering in the evening from garden
to garden in search of Mercedes. And amid this new bustling life he might have fancied
himself in another Marseilles but that he missed the bright sky and the sunwarmed trellisses
of the wineshops. A vague dissatisfaction grew up within him as he looked on the quays and
on the river and on the lowering skies and yet he continued to wander up and down day after
day as if he really sought someone that eluded him.
He went once or twice with his mother to visit their relatives: and, though they passed a
jovial array of shops lit up and adorned for Christmas, his mood of embittered silence did not
leave him. The causes of his embitterment were many, remote and near. He was angry with
himself for being young and the prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with the change
of fortune which was reshaping the world about him into a vision of squalor and insincerity.
Yet his anger lent nothing to the vision. He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching
himself from it and testing its mortifying flavour in secret.
He was sitting on the backless chair in his aunt’s kitchen. A lamp with a reflector hung on
the japanned wall of the fireplace and by its light his aunt was reading the evening paper that
lay on her knees. She looked a long time at a smiling picture that was set in it and said
musingly:
—The beautiful Mabel Hunter!
A ringletted girl stood on tiptoe to peer at the picture and said softly:
—What is she in, mud?
—In the pantomime, love.
The child leaned her ringletted head against her mother’s sleeve, gazing on the picture, and
murmured as if fascinated:
—The beautiful Mabel Hunter!
As if fascinated, her eyes rested long upon those demurely taunting eyes and she murmured
again devotedly:
—Isn’t she an exquisite creature?
And the boy who came in from the street, stamping crookedly under his stone of coal, heard
her words. He dropped his load promptly on the floor and hurried to her side to see. But she
did not raise her easeful head to let him see. He mauled the edges of the paper with his
reddened and blackened hands, shouldering her aside and complaining that he could not
see.
He was sitting in the narrow breakfast room high up in the old darkwindowed house. The
firelight flickered on the wall and beyond the window a spectral dusk was gathering upon the
river. Before the fire an old woman was busy making tea and, as she bustled at her task, she
told in a low voice of what the priest and the doctor had said. She told too of certain changes
she had seen in her of late and of her odd ways and sayings. He sat listening to the words and
following the ways of adventure that lay open in the coals, arches and vaults and winding
galleries and jagged caverns.
Suddenly he became aware of something in the doorway. A skull appeared suspended in the
gloom of the doorway. A feeble creature like a monkey was there, drawn thither by the sound
of voices at the fire. A whining voice came from the door, asking:
—Is that Josephine?
The old bustling woman answered cheerily from the fireplace:
—No, Ellen. It’s Stephen.
—O … O, good evening, Stephen.
He answered the greeting and saw a silly smile break over the face in the doorway.—Do you want anything, Ellen? asked the old woman at the fire.
But she did not answer the question and said:
—I thought it was Josephine. I thought you were Josephine, Stephen.
And, repeating this several times, she fell to laughing feebly.
He was sitting in the midst of a children’s party at Harold’s Cross. His silent watchful
manner had grown upon him and he took little part in the games. The children, wearing the
spoils of their crackers, danced and romped noisily and, though he tried to share their
merriment, he felt himself a gloomy figure amid the gay cocked hats and sunbonnets.
But when he had sung his song and withdrawn into a snug corner of the room he began to
taste the joy of his loneliness. The mirth, which in the beginning of the evening had seemed to
him false and trivial, was like a soothing air to him, passing gaily by his senses, hiding from
other eyes the feverish agitation of his blood while through the circling of the dancers and
amid the music and laughter her glance travelled to his corner, flattering, taunting, searching,
exciting his heart.
In the hall the children who had stayed latest were putting on their things: the party was
over. She had thrown a shawl about her and, as they went together towards the tram, sprays of
her fresh warm breath flew gaily above her cowled head and her shoes tapped blithely on the
glassy road.
It was the last tram. The lank brown horses knew it and shook their bells to the clear night
in admonition. The conductor talked with the driver, both nodding often in the green light of
the lamp. On the empty seats of the tram were scattered a few coloured tickets. No sound of
footsteps came up or down the road. No sound broke the peace of the night save when the
lank brown horses rubbed their noses together and shook their bells.
They seemed to listen, he on the upper step and she on the lower. She came up to his step
many times and went down to hers again between their phrases and once or twice stood close
beside him for some moments on the upper step, forgetting to go down, and then went down.
His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard what her eyes said to
him from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or in revery, he
had heard their tale before. He saw her urge her vanities, her fine dress and sash and long
black stockings, and knew that he had yielded to them a thousand times. Yet a voice within
him spoke above the noise of his dancing heart, asking him would he take her gift to which he
had only to stretch out his hand. And he remembered the day when he and Eileen had stood
looking into the hotel grounds, watching the waiters running up a trail of bunting on the
flagstaff and the fox terrier scampering to and fro on the sunny lawn, and how, all of a
sudden, she had broken out into a peal of laughter and had run down the sloping curve of the
path. Now, as then, he stood listlessly in his place, seemingly a tranquil watcher of the scene
before him.
—She too wants me to catch hold of her, he thought. That’s why she came with me to the
tram. I could easily catch hold of her when she comes up to my step: nobody is looking. I could
hold her and kiss her.
But he did neither: and, when he was sitting alone in the deserted tram, he tore his ticket
into shreds and stared gloomily at the corrugated footboard.
The next day he sat at his table in the bare upper room for many hours. Before him lay a new
pen, a new bottle of ink and a new emerald exercise. From force of habit he had written at the
top of the first page the initial letters of the jesuit motto: A.M.D.G. On the first line of the page
appeared the title of the verses he was trying to write: To E—— C——. He knew it was right to
begin so for he had seen similar titles in the collected poems of Lord Byron. When he had
written this title and drawn an ornamental line underneath he fell into a daydream and began
to draw diagrams on the cover of the book. He saw himself sitting at his table in Bray the
morning after the discussion at the Christmas dinnertable, trying to write a poem about
Parnell on the back of one of his father’s second moiety notices. But his brain had then
refused to grapple with the theme and, desisting, he had covered the page with the names and
addresses of certain of his classmates:Roderick Kickham
John Lawton
Anthony MacSwiney
Simon Moonan
Now it seemed as if he would fail again but, by dint of brooding on the incident, he thought
himself into confidence. During this process all these elements which he deemed common
and insignificant fell out of the scene. There remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the
trammen nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses told only of the night
and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden
in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when
the moment of farewell had come the kiss, which had been withheld by one, was given by
both. After this the letters L.D.S. were written at the foot of the page and, having hidden the
book, he went into his mother’s bedroom and gazed at his face for a long time in the mirror of
her dressingtable.
But his long spell of leisure and liberty was drawing to its end. One evening his father came
home full of news which kept his tongue busy all through dinner. Stephen had been awaiting
his father’s return for there had been mutton hash that day and he knew that his father would
make him dip his bread in the gravy. But he did not relish the hash for the mention of
Clongowes had coated his palate with a scum of disgust.
—I walked bang into him, said Mr Dedalus for the fourth time, just at the corner of the
square.
—Then I suppose, said Mrs Dedalus, he will be able to arrange it. I mean about Belvedere.
—Of course he will, said Mr Dedalus. Don’t I tell you he’s provincial of the order now?
—I never liked the idea of sending him to the christian brothers myself, said Mrs Dedalus.
—Christian brothers be damned! said Mr Dedalus. Is it with Paddy Stink and Mickey Mud?
No, let him stick to the jesuits in God’s name since he began with them. They’ll be of service to
him in after years. Those are the fellows that can get you a position.
—And they’re a very rich order, aren’t they, Simon?
—Rather. They live well, I tell you. You saw their table at Clongowes. Fed up, by God, like
gamecocks.
Mr Dedalus pushed his plate over to Stephen and bade him finish what was on it.
—Now then, Stephen, he said, you must put your shoulder to the wheel, old chap. You’ve
had a fine long holiday.
—O, I’m sure he’ll work very hard now, said Mrs Dedalus, especially when he has Maurice
with him.
—O, Holy Paul, I forgot about Maurice, said Mr Dedalus. Here, Maurice! Come here, you
thickheaded ruffian! Do you know I’m going to send you to a college where they’ll teach you to
spell c.a.t. cat. And I’ll buy you a nice little penny handkerchief to keep your nose dry. Won’t
that be grand fun?
Maurice grinned at his father and then at his brother. Mr Dedalus screwed his glass into his
eye and stared hard at both his sons. Stephen mumbled his bread without answering his
father’s gaze.
—By the bye, said Mr Dedalus at length, the rector, or provincial, rather, was telling me that
story about you and Father Dolan. You’re an impudent thief, he said.
—O, he didn’t, Simon!
—Not he! said Mr Dedalus. But he gave me a great account of the whole affair. We were
chatting, you know, and one word borrowed another. And, by the way, who do you think he
told me will get that job in the corporation? But I’ll tell you that after. Well, as I was saying, we
were chatting away quite friendly and he asked me did our friend here wear glasses still and
then he told me the whole story.
—And was he annoyed, Simon?
—Annoyed! Not he! Manly little chap! he said.
Mr Dedalus imitated the mincing nasal tone of the provincial.—Father Dolan and I, when I told them all at dinner about it, Father Dolan and I had a
great laugh over it. You better mind yourself, Father Dolan, said I, or young Dedalus will send you
up for twice nine. We had a famous laugh together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Mr Dedalus turned to his wife and interjected in his natural voice:
—Shows you the spirit in which they take the boys there. O, a jesuit for your life, for
diplomacy!
He reassumed the provincial’s voice and repeated:
—I told them all at dinner about it and Father Dolan and I and all of us we had a hearty laugh
together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!
* * *
The night of the Whitsuntide play had come and Stephen from the window of the
dressingroom looked out on the small grassplot across which lines of Chinese lanterns were
stretched. He watched the visitors come down the steps from the house and pass into the
theatre. Stewards in evening dress, old Belvedereans, loitered in groups about the entrance to
the theatre and ushered in the visitors with ceremony. Under the sudden glow of a lantern he
could recognise the smiling face of a priest.
The Blessed Sacrament had been removed from the tabernacle and the first benches had
been driven back so as to leave the dais of the altar and the space before it free. Against the
walls stood companies of barbells and Indian clubs; the dumbbells were piled in one corner:
and in the midst of countless hillocks of gymnasium shoes and sweaters and singlets in
untidy brown parcels there stood the stout leatherjacketed vaulting horse waiting its turn to
be carried up on the stage. A large bronze shield, tipped with silver, leaned against the panel of
the altar also waiting its turn to be carried up on the stage and set in the middle of the winning
team at the end of the gymnastic display.
Stephen, though in deference to his reputation for essay-writing he had been elected
secretary to the gymnasium, had had no part in the first section of the programme but in the
play which formed the second section he had the chief part, that of a farcical pedagogue. He
had been cast for it on account of his stature and grave manners for he was now at the end of
his second year at Belvedere and in number two.
A score of the younger boys in white knickers and singlets came pattering down from the
stage, through the vestry and into the chapel. The vestry and chapel were peopled with eager
masters and boys. The plump bald sergeantmajor was testing with his foot the springboard of
the vaulting horse. The lean young man in a long overcoat, who was to give a special display of
intricate club swinging, stood near watching with interest, his silvercoated clubs peeping out
of his deep sidepockets. The hollow rattle of the wooden dumbbells was heard as another
team made ready to go up on the stage: and in another moment the excited prefect was
hustling the boys through the vestry like a flock of geese, flapping the wings of his soutane
nervously and crying to the laggards to make haste. A little troop of Neapolitan peasants were
practising their steps at the end of the chapel, some circling their arms above their heads,
some swaying their baskets of paper violets and curtseying. In a dark corner of the chapel at
the gospel side of the altar a stout old lady knelt amid her copious black skirts. When she
stood up a pinkdressed figure, wearing a curly golden wig and an oldfashioned straw
sunbonnet, with black pencilled eyebrows and cheeks delicately rouged and powdered, was
discovered. A low murmur of curiosity ran round the chapel at the discovery of this girlish
figure. One of the prefects, smiling and nodding his head, approached the dark corner and,
having bowed to the stout old lady, said pleasantly:
—Is this a beautiful young lady or a doll that you have here, Mrs Tallon?
Then, bending down to peer at the smiling painted face under the leaf of the bonnet, he
exclaimed:
—No! Upon my word I believe it’s little Bertie Tallon after all!
Stephen at his post by the window heard the old lady and the priest laugh together and
heard the boys’ murmur of admiration behind him as they passed forward to see the little boy
who had to dance the sunbonnet dance by himself. A movement of impatience escaped him.He let the edge of the blind fall and, stepping down from the bench on which he had been
standing, walked out of the chapel.
He passed out of the schoolhouse and halted under the shed that flanked the garden. From
the theatre opposite came the muffled noise of the audience and sudden brazen clashes of the
soldiers’ band. The light spread upwards from the glass roof making the theatre seem a festive
ark, anchored among the hulks of houses, her frail cables of lanterns looping her to her
moorings. A sidedoor of the theatre opened suddenly and a shaft of light flew across the
grassplots. A sudden burst of music issued from the ark, the prelude of a waltz: and when the
sidedoor closed again the listener could hear the faint rhythm of the music. The sentiment of
the opening bars, their languor and supple movement, evoked the incommunicable emotion
which had been the cause of all his day’s unrest and of his impatient movement of a moment
before. His unrest issued from him like a wave of sound: and on the tide of flowing music the
ark was journeying, trailing her cables of lanterns in her wake. Then a noise like dwarf artillery
broke the movement. It was the clapping that greeted the entry of the dumbbell team on the
stage.
At the far end of the shed near the street a speck of pink light showed in the darkness and as
he walked towards it he became aware of a faint aromatic odour. Two boys were standing in
the shelter of a doorway, smoking, and before he reached them he had recognised Heron by
his voice.
—Here comes the noble Dedalus! cried a high throaty voice. Welcome to our trusty friend!
This welcome ended in a soft peal of mirthless laughter as Heron salaamed and then began
to poke the ground with his cane.
—Here I am, said Stephen, halting and glancing from Heron to his friend.
The latter was a stranger to him but in the darkness, by the aid of the glowing cigarettetips,
he could make out a pale dandyish face, over which a smile was travelling slowly, a tall
overcoated figure and a hard hat. Heron did not trouble himself about an introduction but
said instead:
—I was just telling my friend Wallis what a lark it would be tonight if you took off the rector
in the part of the schoolmaster. It would be a ripping good joke.
Heron made a poor attempt to imitate for his friend Wallis the rector’s pedantic bass and
then, laughing at his failure, asked Stephen to do it.
—Go on, Dedalus, he urged, you can take him off rippingly. He that will not hear the churcha
let him be to theea as the heathena and the publicana.
The imitation was prevented by a mild expression of anger from Wallis in whose
mouthpiece the cigarette had become too tightly wedged.
—Damn this blankety blank holder, he said, taking it from his mouth and smiling and
frowning upon it tolerantly. It’s always getting stuck like that. Do you use a holder?
—I don’t smoke, answered Stephen.
—No, said Heron, Dedalus is a model youth. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t go to bazaars
and he doesn’t flirt and he doesn’t damn anything or damn all.
Stephen shook his head and smiled in his rival’s flushed and mobile face, beaked like a
bird’s. He had often thought it strange that Vincent Heron had a bird’s face as well as a bird’s
name. A shock of pale hair lay on the forehead like a ruffled crest: the forehead was narrow
and bony and a thin hooked nose stood out between the closeset prominent eyes which were
light and inexpressive. The rivals were school friends. They sat together in class, knelt together
in the chapel, talked together after beads over their lunches. As the fellows in number one
were undistinguished dullards Stephen and Heron had been during the year the virtual heads
of the school. It was they who went up to the rector together to ask for a free day or to get a
fellow off.
—O by the way, said Heron suddenly, I saw your governor going in.
The smile waned on Stephen’s face. Any allusion made to his father by a fellow or by a
master put his calm to rout in a moment. He waited in timorous silence to hear what Heron
might say next. Heron, however, nudged him expressively with his elbow and said:—You’re a sly dog, Dedalus!
—Why so? said Stephen.
—You’d think butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth, said Heron. But I’m afraid you’re a sly
dog.
—Might I ask you what you are talking about? said Stephen urbanely.
—Indeed you might, answered Heron. We saw her, Wallis, didn’t we? And deucedly pretty
she is too. And so inquisitive! And what part does Stephen take, Mr Dedalus? And will Stephen not
sing, Mr Dedalus? Your governor was staring at her through that eyeglass of his for all he was
worth so that I think the old man has found you out too. I wouldn’t care a bit, by Jove. She’s
ripping, isn’t she, Wallis?
—Not half bad, answered Wallis quietly as he placed his holder once more in the corner of
his mouth.
A shaft of momentary anger flew through Stephen’s mind at these indelicate allusions in
the hearing of a stranger. For him there was nothing amusing in a girl’s interest and regard.
All day he had thought of nothing but their leavetaking on the steps of the tram at Harold’s
Cross, the stream of moody emotions it had made to course through him, and the poem he
had written about it. All day he had imagined a new meeting with her for he knew that she was
to come to the play. The old restless moodiness had again filled his breast as it had done on
the night of the party but had not found an outlet in verse. The growth and knowledge of two
years of boyhood stood between then and now, forbidding such an outlet: and all day the
stream of gloomy tenderness within him had started forth and returned upon itself in dark
courses and eddies, wearying him in the end until the pleasantry of the prefect and the
painted little boy had drawn from him a movement of impatience.
—So you may as well admit, Heron went on, that we’ve fairly found you out this time. You
can’t play the saint on me any more, that’s one sure five.
A soft peal of mirthless laughter escaped from his lips and, bending down as before, he
struck Stephen lightly across the calf of the leg with his cane, as if in jesting reproof.
Stephen’s movement of anger had already passed. He was neither flattered nor confused
but simply wished the banter to end. He scarcely resented what had seemed to him at first a
silly indelicateness for he knew that the adventure in his mind stood in no danger from their
words: and his face mirrored his rival’s false smile.
—Admit! repeated Heron, striking him again with his cane across the calf of the leg.
The stroke was playful but not so lightly given as the first one had been. Stephen felt the
skin tingle and glow slightly and almost painlessly; and bowing submissively, as if to meet his
companion’s jesting mood, began to recite the Confiteor. The episode ended well for both
Heron and Wallis laughed indulgently at the irreverence.
The confession came only from Stephen’s lips and, while they spoke the words, a sudden
memory had carried him to another scene called up, as if by magic, at the moment when he
had noted the faint cruel dimples at the corners of Heron’s smiling lips and had felt the
familiar stroke of the cane against his calf and had heard the familiar word of admonition:
—Admit.
It was towards the close of his first term in the college when he was in number six. His
sensitive nature was still smarting under the lashes of an undivined and squalid way of life.
His soul was still disquieted and cast down by the dull phenomenon of Dublin. He had
emerged from a two years’ spell of revery to find himself in the midst of a new scene, every
event and figure of which affected him intimately, disheartened him or allured and, whether
alluring or disheartening, filled him always with unrest and bitter thoughts. All the leisure
which his school life left him was passed in the company of subversive writers whose jibes and
violence of speech set up a ferment in his brain before they passed out of it into his crude
writings.
The essay was for him the chief labour of his week and every Tuesday, as he marched from
home to the school, he read his fate in the incidents of the way, pitting himself against some
figure ahead of him and quickening his pace to outstrip it before a certain goal was reached orplanting his steps scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the footpath and telling
himself that he would be first and not first in the weekly essay.
On a certain Tuesday the course of his triumphs was rudely broken. Mr Tate, the English
master, pointed his finger at him and said bluntly:
—This fellow has heresy in his essay.
A hush fell on the class. Mr Tate did not break it but dug with his hand between his crossed
thighs while his heavily starched linen creaked about his neck and wrists. Stephen did not
look up. It was a raw spring morning and his eyes were still smarting and weak. He was
conscious of failure and of detection, of the squalor of his own mind and home, and felt
against his neck the raw edge of his turned and jagged collar.
A short loud laugh from Mr Tate set the class more at ease.
—Perhaps you didn’t know that, he said.
—Where? asked Stephen.
Mr Tate withdrew his delving hand and spread out the essay.
—Here. It’s about the Creator and the soul. Rrm … rrm … rrm…. Ah! without a possibility of
ever approaching nearer. That’s heresy.
Stephen murmured:
—I meant without a possibility of ever reaching.
It was a submission and Mr Tate, appeased, folded up the essay and passed it across to him,
saying:
—O … Ah! ever reaching. That’s another story.
But the class was not so soon appeased. Though nobody spoke to him of the affair after
class he could feel about him a vague general malignant joy.
A few nights after this public chiding he was walking with a letter along the Drumcondra
Road when he heard a voice cry:
—Halt!
He turned and saw three boys of his own class coming towards him in the dusk. It was
Heron who had called out and, as he marched forward between his two attendants, he cleft
the air before him with a thin cane, in time to their steps. Boland, his friend, marched beside
him, a large grin on his face, while Nash came on a few steps behind, blowing from the pace
and wagging his great red head.
As soon as the boys had turned into Clonliffe Road together they began to speak about
books and writers, saying what books they were reading and how many books there were in
their fathers’ bookcases at home. Stephen listened to them in some wonderment for Boland
was the dunce and Nash the idler of the class. In fact after some talk about their favourite
writers Nash declared for Captain Marryat who, he said, was the greatest writer.
—Fudge! said Heron. Ask Dedalus. Who is the greatest writer, Dedalus?
Stephen noted the mockery in the question and said:
—Of prose do you mean?
—Yes.
—Newman, I think.
—Is it Cardinal Newman? asked Boland.
—Yes, answered Stephen.
The grin broadened on Nash’s freckled face as he turned to Stephen and said:
—And do you like Cardinal Newman, Dedalus?
—O, many say that Newman has the best prose style, Heron said to the other two in
explanation. Of course he’s not a poet.
—And who is the best poet, Heron? asked Boland.
—Lord Tennyson, of course, answered Heron.
—O, yes, Lord Tennyson, said Nash. We have all his poetry at home in a book.
At this Stephen forgot the silent vows he had been making and burst out:
—Tennyson a poet! Why, he’s only a rhymester!
—O, get out! said Heron. Everyone knows that Tennyson is the greatest poet.—And who do you think is the greatest poet? asked Boland, nudging his neighbour.
—Byron, of course, answered Stephen.
Heron gave the lead and all three joined in a scornful laugh.
—What are you laughing at? asked Stephen.
—You, said Heron. Byron the greatest poet! He’s only a poet for uneducated people.
—He must be a fine poet! said Boland.
—You may keep your mouth shut, said Stephen, turning on him boldly. All you know about
poetry is what you wrote up on the slates in the yard and were going to be sent to the loft for.
Boland, in fact, was said to have written on the slates in the yard a couplet about a classmate
of his who often rode home from the college on a pony:
As Tyson was riding into Jerusalem
He fell and hurt his Alec Kafoozelum.
This thrust put the two lieutenants to silence but Heron went on:
—In any case Byron was a heretic and immoral too.
—I don’t care what he was, cried Stephen hotly.
—You don’t care whether he was a heretic or not? said Nash.
—What do you know about it? shouted Stephen. You never read a line of anything in your
life except a trans or Boland either.
—I know that Byron was a bad man, said Boland.
—Here, catch hold of this heretic, Heron called out.
In a moment Stephen was a prisoner.
—Tate made you buck up the other day, Heron went on, about the heresy in your essay.
—I’ll tell him tomorrow, said Boland.
—Will you? said Stephen. You’d be afraid to open your lips.
—Afraid?
—Ay. Afraid of your life.
—Behave yourself! cried Heron, cutting at Stephen’s legs with his cane.
It was the signal for their onset. Nash pinioned his arms behind while Boland seized a long
cabbage stump which was lying in the gutter. Struggling and kicking under the cuts of the
cane and the blows of the knotty stump Stephen was borne back against a barbed wire fence.
—Admit that Byron was no good.
—No.
—Admit.
—No.
—Admit.
—No. No.
At last after a fury of plunges he wrenched himself free. His tormentors set off towards
Jones’s Road, laughing and jeering at him, while he, torn and flushed and panting, stumbled
after them half blinded with tears, clenching his fists madly and sobbing.
While he was still repeating the Confiteor amid the indulgent laughter of his hearers and
while the scenes of that malignant episode were still passing sharply and swiftly before his
mind he wondered why he bore no malice now to those who had tormented him. He had not
forgotten a whit of their cowardice and cruelty but the memory of it called forth no anger
from him. All the descriptions of fierce love and hatred which he had met in books had
seemed to him therefore unreal. Even that night as he stumbled homewards along Jones’s
Road he had felt that some power was divesting him of that suddenwoven anger as easily as a
fruit is divested of its soft ripe peel.
He remained standing with his two companions at the end of the shed, listening idly to
their talk or to the bursts of applause in the theatre. She was sitting there among the others
perhaps waiting for him to appear. He tried to recall her appearance but could not. He could
remember only that she had worn a shawl about her head like a cowl and that her dark eyes
had invited and unnerved him. He wondered had he been in her thoughts as she had been in
his. Then in the dark and unseen by the other two he rested the tips of the fingers of one handupon the palm of the other hand, scarcely touching it and yet pressing upon it lightly. But the
pressure of her fingers had been lighter and steadier: and suddenly the memory of their touch
traversed his brain and body like an invisible warm wave.
A boy came towards them, running along under the shed. He was excited and breathless.
—O, Dedalus, he cried, Doyle is in a great bake about you. You’re to go in at once and get
dressed for the play. Hurry up, you better.
—He’s coming now, said Heron to the messenger with a haughty drawl, when he wants to.
The boy turned to Heron and repeated:
—But Doyle is in an awful bake.
—Will you tell Doyle with my best compliments that I damned his eyes? answered Heron.
—Well, I must go now, said Stephen, who cared little for such points of honour.
—I wouldn’t, said Heron, damn me if I would. That’s no way to send for one of the senior
boys. In a bake, indeed! I think it’s quite enough that you’re taking a part in his bally old play.
This spirit of quarrelsome comradeship which he had observed lately in his rival had not
seduced Stephen from his habits of quiet obedience. He mistrusted the turbulence and
doubted the sincerity of such comradeship which seemed to him a sorry anticipation of
manhood. The question of honour here raised was, like all such questions, trivial to him.
While his mind had been pursuing its intangible phantoms and turning in irresolution from
such pursuit he had heard about him the constant voices of his father and of his masters,
urging him to be a gentleman above all things and urging him to be a good catholic above all
things. These voices had now come to be hollowsounding in his ears. When the gymnasium
had been opened he had heard another voice urging him to be strong and manly and healthy
and when the movement towards national revival had begun to be felt in the college yet
another voice had bidden him be true to his country and help to raise up her fallen language
and tradition. In the profane world, as he foresaw, a worldly voice would bid him raise up his
father’s fallen state by his labours and, meanwhile, the voice of his school comrades urged
him to be a decent fellow, to shield others from blame or to beg them off and to do his best to
get free days for the school. And it was the din of all these hollowsounding voices that made
him halt irresolutely in the pursuit of phantoms. He gave them ear only for a time but he was
happy only when he was far from them, beyond their call, alone or in the company of
phantasmal comrades.
In the vestry a plump freshfaced jesuit and an elderly man, in shabby blue clothes, were
dabbling in a case of paints and chalks. The boys who had been painted walked about or
stood still awkwardly, touching their faces in a gingerly fashion with their furtive fingertips. In
the middle of the vestry a young jesuit, who was then on a visit to the college, stood rocking
himself rhythmically from the tips of his toes to his heels and back again, his hands thrust
well forward into his sidepockets. His small head set off with glossy red curls and his newly
shaven face agreed well with the spotless decency of his soutane and with his spotless shoes.
As he watched this swaying form and tried to read for himself the legend of the priest’s
mocking smile there came into Stephen’s memory a saying which he had heard from his
father before he had been sent to Clongowes, that you could always tell a jesuit by the style of
his clothes. At the same moment he thought he saw a likeness between his father’s mind and
that of this smiling welldressed priest: and he was aware of some desecration of the priest’s
office or of the vestry itself, whose silence was now routed by loud talk and joking and its air
pungent with the smells of the gasjets and the grease.
While his forehead was being wrinkled and his jaws painted black and blue by the elderly
man he listened distractedly to the voice of the plump young jesuit which bade him speak up
and make his points clearly. He could hear the band playing The Lily of Killarney and knew that
in a few moments the curtain would go up. He felt no stage fright but the thought of the part
he had to play humiliated him. A remembrance of some of his lines made a sudden flush rise
to his painted cheeks. He saw her serious alluring eyes watching him from among the
audience and their image at once swept away his scruples, leaving his will compact. Another
nature seemed to have been lent him: the infection of the excitement and youth about himentered into and transformed his moody mistrustfulness. For one rare moment he seemed to
be clothed in the real apparel of boyhood: and, as he stood in the wings among the other
players, he shared the common mirth amid which the drop scene was hauled upwards by two
ablebodied priests with violent jerks and all awry.
A few moments after he found himself on the stage amid the garish gas and the dim
scenery, acting before the innumerable faces of the void. It surprised him to see that the play
which he had known at rehearsals for a disjointed lifeless thing had suddenly assumed a life
of its own. It seemed now to play itself, he and his fellow actors aiding it with their parts.
When the curtain fell on the last scene he heard the void filled with applause and, through a
rift in the side scene, saw the simple body before which he had acted magically deformed, the
void of faces breaking at all points and falling asunder into busy groups.
He left the stage quickly and rid himself of his mummery and passed out through the
chapel into the college garden. Now that the play was over his nerves cried for some further
adventure. He hurried onwards as if to overtake it. The doors of the theatre were all open and
the audience had emptied out. On the lines which he had fancied the moorings of an ark a few
lanterns swung in the night breeze, flickering cheerlessly. He mounted the steps from the
garden in haste, eager that some prey should not elude him, and forced his way through the
crowd in the hall and past the two jesuits who stood watching the exodus and bowing and
shaking hands with the visitors. He pushed onward nervously, feigning a still greater haste
and faintly conscious of the smiles and stares and nudges which his powdered head left in its
wake.
When he came out on the steps he saw his family waiting for him at the first lamp. In a
glance he noted that every figure of the group was familiar and ran down the steps angrily.
—I have to leave a message down in George’s Street, he said to his father quickly. I’ll be
home after you.
Without waiting for his father’s questions he ran across the road and began to walk at
breakneck speed down the hill. He hardly knew where he was walking. Pride and hope and
desire like crushed herbs in his heart sent up vapours of maddening incense before the eyes of
his mind. He strode down the hill amid the tumult of suddenrisen vapours of wounded pride
and fallen hope and baffled desire. They streamed upwards before his anguished eyes in
dense and maddening fumes and passed away above him till at last the air was clear and cold
again.
A film still veiled his eyes but they burned no longer. A power, akin to that which had often
made anger or resentment fall from him, brought his steps to rest. He stood still and gazed up
at the sombre porch of the morgue and from that to the dark cobbled laneway at its side. He
saw the word Lotts on the wall of the lane and breathed slowly the rank heavy air.
—That is horse piss and rotted straw, he thought. It is a good odour to breathe. It will calm
my heart. My heart is quite calm now. I will go back.
* * *
Stephen was once again seated beside his father in the corner of a railway carriage at
Kingsbridge. He was traveling with his father by the night mail to Cork. As the train steamed
out of the station he recalled his childish wonder of years before and every event of his first
day at Clongowes. But he felt no wonder now. He saw the darkening lands slipping past him,
the silent telegraphpoles passing his window swiftly every four seconds, the little glimmering
stations, manned by a few silent sentries, flung by the mail behind her and twinkling for a
moment in the darkness like fiery grains flung backwards by a runner.
He listened without sympathy to his father’s evocation of Cork and of scenes of his youth, a
tale broken by sighs or draughts from his pocketflask whenever the image of some dead friend
appeared in it or whenever the evoker remembered suddenly the purpose of his actual visit.
Stephen heard but could feel no pity. The images of the dead were all strange to him save that
of uncle Charles, an image which had lately been fading out of memory. He knew, however,
that his father’s property was going to be sold by auction and in the manner of his own
dispossession he felt the world give the lie rudely to his phantasy.At Maryborough he fell asleep. When he awoke the train had passed out of Mallow and his
father was stretched asleep on the other seat. The cold light of the dawn lay over the country,
over the unpeopled fields and the closed cottages. The terror of sleep fascinated his mind as
he watched the silent country or heard from time to time his father’s deep breath or sudden
sleepy movement. The neighbourhood of unseen sleepers filled him with strange dread as
though they could harm him; and he prayed that the day might come quickly. His prayer,
addressed neither to God nor saint, began with a shiver, as the chilly morning breeze crept
through the chink of the carriage door to his feet, and ended in a trail of foolish words which
he made to fit the insistent rhythm of the train; and silently, at intervals of four seconds, the
telegraphpoles held the galloping notes of the music between punctual bars. This furious
music allayed his dread and, leaning against the windowledge, he let his eyelids close again.
They drove in a jingle across Cork while it was still early morning and Stephen finished his
sleep in a bedroom of the Victoria Hotel. The bright warm sunlight was streaming through
the window and he could hear the din of traffic. His father was standing before the
dressingtable, examining his hair and face and moustache with great care, craning his neck
across the waterjug and drawing it back sideways to see the better. While he did so he sang
softly to himself with quaint accent and phrasing:
’Tis youth and folly
Makes young men marry,
So here, my love, I’ll
No longer stay.
What can’t be cured, sure,
Must be injured, sure,
So I’ll go to
Amerikay.
My love she’s handsome,
My love she’s bonny:
She’s like good whisky
When it is new;
But when ’tis old
And growing cold
It fades and dies like
The mountain dew.
The consciousness of the warm sunny city outside his window and the tender tremors with
which his father’s voice festooned the strange sad happy air, drove off all the mists of the
night’s ill humour from Stephen’s brain. He got up quickly to dress and, when the song had
ended, said:
—That’s much prettier than any of your other come-all-yous.
—Do you think so? asked Mr Dedalus.
—I like it, said Stephen.
—It’s a pretty old air, said Mr Dedalus, twirling the points of his moustache. Ah, but you
should have heard Mick Lacy sing it! Poor Mick Lacy! He had little turns for it, grace notes he
used to put in that I haven’t got. That was the boy who could sing a come-all-you, if you like.
Mr Dedalus had ordered drisheens for breakfast and during the meal he crossexamined the
waiter for local news. For the most part they spoke at crosspurposes when a name was
mentioned, the waiter having in mind the present holder and Mr Dedalus his father or
perhaps his grandfather.
—Well, I hope they haven’t moved the Queen’s College anyhow, said Mr Dedalus, for I want
to show it to this youngster of mine.
Along the Mardyke the trees were in bloom. They entered the grounds of the college and
were led by the garrulous porter across the quadrangle. But their progress across the gravel
was brought to a halt after every dozen or so paces by some reply of the porter’s.—Ah, do you tell me so? And is poor Pottlebelly dead?
—Yes, sir. Dead, sir.
During these halts Stephen stood awkwardly behind the two men, weary of the subject and
waiting restlessly for the slow march to begin again. By the time they had crossed the
quadrangle his restlessness had risen to fever. He wondered how his father, whom he knew
for a shrewd suspicious man, could be duped by the servile manners of the porter; and the
lively southern speech which had entertained him all the morning now irritated his ears.
They passed into the anatomy theatre where Mr Dedalus, the porter aiding him, searched
the desks for his initials. Stephen remained in the background, depressed more than ever by
the darkness and silence of the theatre and by the air it wore of jaded and formal study. On the
desk before him he read the word Fœtus cut several times in the dark stained wood. The
sudden legend startled his blood: he seemed to feel the absent students of the college about
him and to shrink from their company. A vision of their life, which his father’s words had
been powerless to evoke, sprang up before him out of the word cut in the desk. A
broadshouldered student with a moustache was cutting in the letters with a jackknife,
seriously. Other students stood or sat near him laughing at his handiwork. One jogged his
elbow. The big student turned on him, frowning. He was dressed in loose grey clothes and had
tan boots.
Stephen’s name was called. He hurried down the steps of the theatre so as to be as far away
from the vision as he could be and, peering closely at his father’s initials, hid his flushed face.
But the word and the vision capered before his eyes as he walked back across the
quadrangle and towards the college gate. It shocked him to find in the outer world a trace of
what he had deemed till then a brutish and individual malady of his own mind. His recent
monstrous reveries came thronging into his memory. They too had sprung up before him,
suddenly and furiously, out of mere words. He had soon given in to them and allowed them to
sweep across and abase his intellect, wondering always where they came from, from what den
of monstrous images, and always weak and humble towards others, restless and sickened of
himself when they had swept over him.
—Ay, bedad! And there’s the Groceries sure enough! cried Mr Dedalus. You often heard me
speak of the Groceries, didn’t you, Stephen. Many’s the time we went down there when our
names had been marked, a crowd of us, Harry Peard and little Jack Mountain and Bob Dyas
and Maurice Moriarty, the Frenchman, and Tom O’Grady and Mick Lacy that I told you of this
morning and Joey Corbet and poor little good hearted Johnny Keevers of the Tantiles.
The leaves of the trees along the Mardyke were astir and whispering in the sunlight. A team
of cricketers passed, agile young men in flannels and blazers, one of them carrying the long
green wicketbag. In a quiet bystreet a German band of five players in faded uniforms and with
battered brass instruments was playing to an audience of street arabs and leisurely messenger
boys. A maid in a white cap and apron was watering a box of plants on a sill which shone like a
slab of limestone in the warm glare. From another window open to the air came the sound of
a piano, scale after scale rising into the treble.
Stephen walked on at his father’s side, listening to stories he had heard before, hearing
again the names of the scattered and dead revellers who had been the companions of his
father’s youth. And a faint sickness sighed in his heart. He recalled his own equivocal position
in Belvedere, a free boy, a leader afraid of his own authority, proud and sensitive and
suspicious, battling against the squalor of his life and against the riot of his mind. The letters
cut in the stained wood of the desk stared upon him, mocking his bodily weakness and futile
enthusiasms and making him loathe himself for his own mad and filthy orgies. The spittle in
his throat grew bitter and foul to swallow and the faint sickness climbed to his brain so that
for a moment he closed his eyes and walked on in darkness.
He could still hear his father’s voice.
—When you kick out for yourself, Stephen—as I daresay you will one of those days—
remember, whatever you do, to mix with gentlemen. When I was a young fellow I tell you I
enjoyed myself. I mixed with fine decent fellows. Everyone of us could do something. Onefellow had a good voice, another fellow was a good actor, another could sing a good comic
song, another was a good oarsman or a good racketplayer, another could tell a good story and
so on. We kept the ball rolling anyhow and enjoyed ourselves and saw a bit of life and we were
none the worse of it either. But we were all gentlemen, Stephen—at least I hope we were—and
bloody good honest Irishmen too. That’s the kind of fellows I want you to associate with,
fellows of the right kidney. I’m talking to you as a friend, Stephen. I don’t believe in playing the
stern father. I don’t believe a son should be afraid of his father. No, I treat you as your
grandfather treated me when I was a young chap. We were more like brothers than father and
son. I’ll never forget the first day he caught me smoking. I was standing at the end of the South
Terrace one day with some maneens like myself and sure we thought we were grand fellows
because we had pipes stuck in the corners of our mouths. Suddenly the governor passed. He
didn’t say a word, or stop even. But the next day, Sunday, we were out for a walk together and
when we were coming home he took out his cigar case and said: By the bye, Simon, I didn’t know
you smoked: or something like that. Of course I tried to carry it off as best I could. If you want a
good smoke, he said, try one of these cigars. An American captain made me a present of them last
night in Queenstown.
Stephen heard his father’s voice break into a laugh which was almost a sob.
—He was the handsomest man in Cork at that time, by God he was! The women used to
stand to look after him in the street.
He heard the sob passing loudly down his father’s throat and opened his eyes with a
nervous impulse. The sunlight breaking suddenly on his sight turned the sky and clouds into a
fantastic world of sombre masses with lakelike spaces of dark rosy light. His very brain was
sick and powerless. He could scarcely interpret the letters of the signboards of the shops. By
his monstrous way of life he seemed to have put himself beyond the limits of reality. Nothing
moved him or spoke to him from the real world unless he heard in it an echo of the infuriated
cries within him. He could respond to no earthly or human appeal, dumb and insensible to
the call of summer and gladness and companionship, wearied and dejected by his father’s
voice. He could scarcely recognise as his his own thoughts, and repeated slowly to himself:
—I am Stephen Dedalus. I am walking beside my father whose name is Simon Dedalus. We
are in Cork, in Ireland. Cork is a city. Our room is in the Victoria Hotel. Victoria and Stephen
and Simon. Simon and Stephen and Victoria. Names.
The memory of his childhood suddenly grew dim. He tried to call forth some of its vivid
moments but could not. He recalled only names: Dante, Parnell, Clane, Clongowes. A little boy
had been taught geography by an old woman who kept two brushes in her wardrobe. Then he
had been sent away from home to a college. In the college he had made his first communion
and eaten slim jim out of his cricketcap and watched the firelight leaping and dancing on the
wall of a little bedroom in the infirmary and dreamed of being dead, of mass being said for
him by the rector in a black and gold cope, of being buried then in the little graveyard of the
community off the main avenue of limes. But he had not died then. Parnell had died. There
had been no mass for the dead in the chapel and no procession. He had not died but he had
faded out like a film in the sun. He had been lost or had wandered out of existence for he no
longer existed. How strange to think of him passing out of existence in such a way, not by
death but by fading out in the sun or by being lost and forgotten somewhere in the universe! It
was strange to see his small body appear again for a moment: a little boy in a grey belted suit.
His hands were in his sidepockets and his trousers were tucked in at the knees by elastic
bands.
On the evening of the day on which the property was sold Stephen followed his father
meekly about the city from bar to bar. To the sellers in the market, to the barmen and
barmaids, to the beggars who importuned him for a lob Mr Dedalus told the same tale, that he
was an old Corkonian, that he had been trying for thirty years to get rid of his Cork accent up
in Dublin and that Peter Pickackafax beside him was his eldest son but that he was only a
Dublin jackeen.
They had set out early in the morning from Newcombe’s coffeehouse where Mr Dedalus’cup had rattled noisily against its saucer, and Stephen had tried to cover that shameful sign of
his father’s drinkingbout of the night before by moving his chair and coughing. One
humiliation had succeeded another: the false smiles of the market sellers, the curvettings and
oglings of the barmaids with whom his father flirted, the compliments and encouraging
words of his father’s friends. They had told him that he had a great look of his grandfather
and Mr Dedalus had agreed that he was an ugly likeness. They had unearthed traces of a Cork
accent in his speech and made him admit that the Lee was a much finer river than the Liffey.
One of them in order to put his Latin to the proof had made him translate short passages
from Dilectus and asked him whether it was correct to say: Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur
in illis or Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. Another, a brisk old man, whom Mr Dedalus
called Johnny Cashman, had covered him with confusion by asking him to say which were
prettier, the Dublin girls or the Cork girls.
—He’s not that way built, said Mr Dedalus. Leave him alone. He’s a levelheaded thinking
boy who doesn’t bother his head about that kind of nonsense.
—Then he’s not his father’s son, said the little old man.
—I don’t know, I’m sure, said Mr Dedalus, smiling complacently.
—Your father, said the little old man to Stephen, was the boldest flirt in the city of Cork in
his day. Do you know that?
Stephen looked down and studied the tiled floor of the bar into which they had drifted.
—Now don’t be putting ideas into his head, said Mr Dedalus. Leave him to his Maker.
—Yerra, sure I wouldn’t put any ideas into his head. I’m old enough to be his grandfather.
And I am a grandfather, said the little old man to Stephen. Do you know that?
—Are you? asked Stephen.
—Bedad I am, said the little old man. I have two bouncing grandchildren out at Sunday’s
Well. Now then! What age do you think I am? And I remember seeing your grandfather in his
red coat riding out to hounds. That was before you were born.
—Ay, or thought of, said Mr Dedalus.
—Bedad I did, repeated the little old man. And, more than that, I can remember even your
greatgrandfather, old John Stephen Dedalus, and a fierce old fireeater he was. Now then!
There’s a memory for you!
—That’s three generations—four generations, said another of the company. Why, Johnny
Cashman, you must be nearing the century.
—Well, I’ll tell you the truth, said the little old man. I’m just twentyseven years of age.
—We’re as old as we feel, Johnny, said Mr Dedalus. And just finish what you have there, and
we’ll have another. Here, Tim or Tom or whatever your name is, give us the same again here.
By God, I don’t feel more than eighteen myself. There’s that son of mine there not half my age
and I’m a better man than he is any day of the week.
—Draw it mild now, Dedalus. I think it’s time for you to take a back seat, said the gentleman
who had spoken before.
—No, by God! asserted Mr Dedalus. I’ll sing a tenor song against him or I’ll vault a
fivebarred gate against him or I’ll run with him after the hounds across the country as I did
thirty years ago along with the Kerry Boy and the best man for it.
—But he’ll beat you here, said the little old man, tapping his forehead and raising his glass
to drain it.
—Well, I hope he’ll be as good a man as his father. That’s all I can say, said Mr Dedalus.
—If he is, he’ll do, said the little old man.
—And thanks be to God, Johnny, said Mr Dedalus, that we lived so long and did so little
harm.
—But did so much good, Simon, said the little old man gravely. Thanks be to God we lived
so long and did so much good.
Stephen watched the three glasses being raised from the counter as his father and his two
cronies drank to the memory of their past. An abyss of fortune or of temperament sundered
him from them. His mind seemed older than theirs: it shone coldly on their strifes andhappiness and regrets like a moon upon a younger earth. No life or youth stirred in him as it
had stirred in them. He had known neither the pleasure of companionship with others nor
the vigour of rude male health nor filial piety. Nothing stirred within his soul but a cold and
cruel and loveless lust. His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple
joys, and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon.
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless …?
He repeated to himself the lines of Shelley’s fragment. Its alternation of sad human
ineffectualness with vast inhuman cycles of activity chilled him, and he forgot his own human
and ineffectual grieving.
* * *
Stephen’s mother and his brother and one of his cousins waited at the corner of quiet
Foster Place while he and his father went up the steps and along the colonnade where the
highland sentry was parading. When they had passed into the great hall and stood at the
counter Stephen drew forth his orders on the governor of the bank of Ireland for thirty and
three pounds; and these sums, the moneys of his exhibition and essay prize, were paid over to
him rapidly by the teller in notes and in coin respectively. He bestowed them in his pockets
with feigned composure and suffered the friendly teller, to whom his father chatted, to take
his hand across the broad counter and wish him a brilliant career in after life. He was
impatient of their voices and could not keep his feet at rest. But the teller still deferred the
serving of others to say he was living in changed times and that there was nothing like giving a
boy the best education that money could buy. Mr Dedalus lingered in the hall gazing about
him and up at the roof and telling Stephen, who urged him to come out, that they were
standing in the house of commons of the old Irish parliament.
—God help us! he said piously, to think of the men of those times, Stephen, Hely
Hutchinson and Flood and Henry Grattan and Charles Kendal Bushe, and the noblemen we
have now, leaders of the Irish people at home and abroad. Why, by God, they wouldn’t be seen
dead in a tenacre field with them. No, Stephen, old chap, I’m sorry to say that they are only as I
roved out one fine May morning in the merry month of sweet July.
A keen October wind was blowing round the bank. The three figures standing at the edge of
the muddy path had pinched cheeks and watery eyes. Stephen looked at his thinly clad
mother and remembered that a few days before he had seen a mantle priced at twenty guineas
in the windows of Barnardo’s.
—Well that’s done, said Mr Dedalus.
—We had better go to dinner, said Stephen. Where?
—Dinner? said Mr Dedalus. Well, I suppose we had better, what?
—Some place that’s not too dear, said Mrs Dedalus.
—Underdone’s?
—Yes. Some quiet place.
—Come along, said Stephen quickly. It doesn’t matter about the dearness.
He walked on before them with short nervous steps, smiling. They tried to keep up with him,
smiling also at his eagerness.
—Take it easy like a good young fellow, said his father. We’re not out for the half mile, are
we?
For a swift season of merrymaking the money of his prizes ran through Stephen’s fingers.
Great parcels of groceries and delicacies and dried fruits arrived from the city. Every day he
drew up a bill of fare for the family and every night led a party of three or four to the theatre to
see Ingomar or The Lady of Lyons. In his coat pockets he carried squares of Vienna chocolate
for his guests while his trousers’ pockets bulged with masses of silver and copper coins. He
bought presents for everyone, overhauled his room, wrote out resolutions, marshalled his
books up and down their shelves, pored upon all kinds of price lists, drew up a form ofcommonwealth for the household by which every member of it held some office, opened a
loan bank for his family and pressed loans on willing borrowers so that he might have the
pleasure of making out receipts and reckoning the interests on the sums lent. When he could
do no more he drove up and down the city in trams. Then the season of pleasure came to an
end. The pot of pink enamel paint gave out and the wainscot of his bedroom remained with
its unfinished and illplastered coat.
His household returned to its usual way of life. His mother had no further occasion to
upbraid him for squandering his money. He too returned to his old life at school and all his
novel enterprises fell to pieces. The commonwealth fell, the loan bank closed its coffers and
its books on a sensible loss, the rules of life which he had drawn about himself fell into
desuetude.
How foolish his aim had been! He had tried to build a breakwater of order and elegance
against the sordid tide of life without him and to dam up, by rules of conduct and active
interests and new filial relations, the powerful recurrence of the tides within him. Useless.
From without as from within the water had flowed over his barriers: their tides began once
more to jostle fiercely above the crumbled mole.
He saw clearly too his own futile isolation. He had not gone one step nearer the lives he had
sought to approach nor bridged the restless shame and rancour that divided him from
mother and brother and sister. He felt that he was hardly of the one blood with them but
stood to them rather in the mystical kinship of fosterage, fosterchild and fosterbrother.
He burned to appease the fierce longings of his heart before which everything else was idle
and alien. He cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of
subterfuge and falsehood. Beside the savage desire within him to realise the enormities which
he brooded on nothing was sacred. He bore cynically with the shameful details of his secret
riots in which he exulted to defile with patience whatever image had attracted his eyes. By day
and by night he moved among distorted images of the outer world. A figure that had seemed
to him by day demure and innocent came towards him by night through the winding
darkness of sleep, her face transfigured by a lecherous cunning, her eyes bright with brutish
joy. Only the morning pained him with its dim memory of dark orgiastic riot, its keen and
humiliating sense of transgression.
He returned to his wanderings. The veiled autumnal evenings led him from street to street
as they had led him years before along the quiet avenues of Blackrock. But no vision of trim
front gardens or of kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence upon him now.
Only at times, in the pauses of his desire, when the luxury that was wasting him gave room to a
softer languor, the image of Mercedes traversed the background of his memory. He saw again
the small white house and the garden of rosebushes on the road that led to the mountains
and he remembered the sadly proud gesture of refusal which he was to make there, standing
with her in the moonlit garden after years of estrangement and adventure. At those moments
the soft speeches of Claude Melnotte rose to his lips and eased his unrest. A tender
premonition touched him of the tryst he had then looked forward to and, in spite of the
horrible reality which lay between his hope of then and now, of the holy encounter he had
then imagined at which weakness and timidity and inexperience were to fall from him.
Such moments passed and the wasting fires of lust sprang up again. The verses passed from
his lips and the inarticulate cries and the unspoken brutal words rushed forth from his brain
to force a passage. His blood was in revolt. He wandered up and down the dark slimy streets
peering into the gloom of lanes and doorways, listening eagerly for any sound. He moaned to
himself like some baffled prowling beast. He wanted to sin with another of his kind, to force
another being to sin with him and to exult with her in sin. He felt some dark presence moving
irresistibly upon him from the darkness, a presence subtle and murmurous as a flood filling
him wholly with itself. Its murmur besieged his ears like the murmur of some multitude in
sleep; its subtle streams penetrated his being. His hands clenched convulsively and his teeth
set together as he suffered the agony of its penetration. He stretched out his arms in the street
to hold fast the frail swooning form that eluded him and incited him: and the cry that he hadstrangled for so long in his throat issued from his lips. It broke from him like a wail of despair
from a hell of sufferers and died in a wail of furious entreaty, a cry for an iniquitous
abandonment, a cry which was but the echo of an obscene scrawl which he had read on the
oozing wall of a urinal.
He had wandered into a maze of narrow and dirty streets. From the foul laneways he heard
bursts of hoarse riot and wrangling and the drawling of drunken singers. He walked onward,
undismayed, wondering whether he had strayed into the quarter of the jews. Women and girls
dressed in long vivid gowns traversed the street from house to house. They were leisurely and
perfumed. A trembling seized him and his eyes grew dim. The yellow gasflames arose before
his troubled vision against the vapoury sky, burning as if before an altar. Before the doors and
in the lighted halls groups were gathered arrayed as for some rite. He was in another world: he
had awakened from a slumber of centuries.
He stood still in the middle of the roadway, his heart clamouring against his bosom in a
tumult. A young woman dressed in a long pink gown laid her hand on his arm to detain him
and gazed into his face. She said gaily:
—Good night, Willie dear!
Her room was warm and lightsome. A huge doll sat with her legs apart in the copious
easychair beside the bed. He tried to bid his tongue speak that he might seem at ease,
watching her as she undid her gown, noting the proud conscious movements of her perfumed
head.
As he stood silent in the middle of the room she came over to him and embraced him gaily
and gravely. Her round arms held him firmly to her and he, seeing her face lifted to him in
serious calm and feeling the warm calm rise and fall of her breast, all but burst into hysterical
weeping. Tears of joy and relief shone in his delighted eyes and his lips parted though they
would not speak.
She passed her tinkling hand through his hair, calling him a little rascal.
—Give me a kiss, she said.
His lips would not bend to kiss her. He wanted to be held firmly in her arms, to be caressed
slowly, slowly, slowly. In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and
sure of himself. But his lips would not bend to kiss her.
With a sudden movement she bowed his head and joined her lips to his and he read the
meaning of her movements in her frank uplifted eyes. It was too much for him. He closed his
eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the
dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though
they were the vehicle of a vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid
pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour.
® III
T h e swift December dusk had come tumbling clownishly after its dull day and, as he stared
through the dull square of the window of the schoolroom, he felt his belly crave for its food.
He hoped there would be stew for dinner, turnips and carrots and bruised potatoes and fat
mutton pieces to be ladled out in thick peppered flourfattened sauce. Stuff it into you, his belly
counselled him.
It would be a gloomy secret night. After early nightfall the yellow lamps would light up, here
and there, the squalid quarter of the brothels. He would follow a devious course up and down
the streets, circling always nearer and nearer in a tremor of fear and joy, until his feet led him
suddenly round a dark corner. The whores would be just coming out of their houses making
ready for the night, yawning lazily after their sleep and settling the hairpins in their clusters of
hair. He would pass by them calmly waiting for a sudden movement of his own will or a
sudden call to his sinloving soul from their soft perfumed flesh. Yet as he prowled in quest of
that call, his senses, stultified only by his desire, would note keenly all that wounded or
shamed them; his eyes, a ring of porter froth on a clothless table or a photograph of two
soldiers standing to attention or a gaudy playbill; his ears, the drawling jargon of greeting:
—Hello, Bertie, any good in your mind?
—Is that you, pigeon?
—Number ten. Fresh Nelly is waiting on you.
—Goodnight, husband! Coming in to have a short time?
The equation on the page of his scribbler began to spread out a widening tail, eyed and
starred like a peacock’s; and, when the eyes and stars of its indices had been eliminated,
began slowly to fold itself together again. The indices appearing and disappearing were eyes
opening and closing; the eyes opening and closing were stars being born and being
quenched. The vast cycle of starry life bore his weary mind outward to its verge and inward to
its centre, a distant music accompanying him outward and inward. What music? The music
came nearer and he recalled the words, the words of Shelley’s fragment upon the moon
wandering companionless, pale for weariness. The stars began to crumble and a cloud of fine
stardust fell through space.
The dull light fell more faintly upon the page whereon another equation began to unfold
itself slowly and to spread abroad its widening tail. It was his own soul going forth to
experience, unfolding itself sin by sin, spreading abroad the balefire of its burning stars and
folding back upon itself, fading slowly, quenching its own lights and fires. They were
quenched: and the cold darkness filled chaos.
A cold lucid indifference reigned in his soul. At his first violent sin he had felt a wave of
vitality pass out of him and had feared to find his body or his soul maimed by the excess.
Instead the vital wave had carried him on its bosom out of himself and back again when it
receded: and no part of body or soul had been maimed but a dark peace had been established
between them. The chaos in which his ardour extinguished itself was a cold indifferent
knowledge of himself. He had sinned mortally not once but many times and he knew that,
while he stood in danger of eternal damnation for the first sin alone, by every succeeding sin
he multiplied his guilt and his punishment. His days and works and thoughts could make no
atonement for him, the fountains of sanctifying grace having ceased to refresh his soul. At
most, by an alms given to a beggar whose blessing he fled from, he might hope wearily to win
for himself some measure of actual grace. Devotion had gone by the board. What did it avail
to pray when he knew that his soul lusted after its own destruction? A certain pride, a certain
awe, withheld him from offering to God even one prayer at night though he knew it was in
God’s power to take away his life while he slept and hurl his soul hellward ere he could beg formercy. His pride in his own sin, his loveless awe of God, told him that his offence was too
grievous to be atoned for in whole or in part by a false homage to the Allseeing and
Allknowing.
—Well now, Ennis, I declare you have a head and so has my stick! Do you mean to say that
you are not able to tell me what a surd is?
The blundering answer stirred the embers of his contempt of his fellows. Towards others he
felt neither shame nor fear. On Sunday mornings as he passed the churchdoor he glanced
coldly at the worshippers who stood bareheaded, four deep, outside the church, morally
present at the mass which they could neither see nor hear. Their dull piety and the sickly smell
of the cheap hairoil with which they had anointed their heads repelled him from the altar they
prayed at. He stooped to the evil of hypocrisy with others, sceptical of their innocence which
he could cajole so easily.
On the wall of his bedroom hung an illuminated scroll, the certificate of his prefecture in
the college of the sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday mornings when the sodality
met in the chapel to recite the little office his place was a cushioned kneelingdesk at the right
of the altar from which he led his wing of boys through the responses. The falsehood of his
position did not pain him. If at moments he felt an impulse to rise from his post of honour
and, confessing before them all his unworthiness, to leave the chapel, a glance at their faces
restrained him. The imagery of the psalms of prophecy soothed his barren pride. The glories
of Mary held his soul captive: spikenard and myrrh and frankincense, symbolising the
preciousness of God’s gifts to her soul, rich garments, symbolising her royal lineage, her
emblems, the lateflowering plant and lateblossoming tree, symbolising the agelong gradual
growth of her cultus among men. When it fell to him to read the lesson towards the close of
the office he read it in a veiled voice, lulling his conscience to its music.
Quasi cedrus exaltata sum in Libanon et quasi cupressus in monte Sion. Quasi palma
exaltata sum in Gades et quasi plantatio rosae in Jericho. Quasi uliva speciosa in campis et
quasi platanus exaltata sum juxta aquam in plateis. Sicut cinnamomum et balsamum
aromatizans odorem dedi et quasi myrrha electa dedi suavitatem odoris.
His sin, which had covered him from the sight of God, had led him nearer to the refuge of
sinners. Her eyes seemed to regard him with mild pity; her holiness, a strange light glowing
faintly upon her frail flesh, did not humiliate the sinner who approached her. If ever he was
impelled to cast sin from him and to repent the impulse that moved him was the wish to be
her knight. If ever his soul, reentering her dwelling shyly after the frenzy of his body’s lust had
spent itself, was turned towards her whose emblem is the morning star, bright and musical,
telling of heaven and infusing peace, it was when her names were murmured softly by lips
whereon there still lingered foul and shameful words, the savour itself of a lewd kiss.
That was strange. He tried to think how it could be but the dusk, deepening in the
schoolroom, covered over his thoughts. The bell rang. The master marked the sums and cuts
to be done for the next lesson and went out. Heron, beside Stephen, began to hum tunelessly.
My excellent friend Bombados.
Ennis, who had gone to the yard, came back, saying:
—The boy from the house is coming up for the rector.
A tall boy behind Stephen rubbed his hands and said:
—That’s game ball. We can scut the whole hour. He won’t be in till after half two. Then you
can ask him questions on the catechism, Dedalus.
Stephen, leaning back and drawing idly on his scribbler, listened to the talk about him
which Heron checked from time to time by saying:
—Shut up, will you. Don’t make such a bally racket!
It was strange too that he found an arid pleasure in following up to the end the rigid lines of
the doctrines of the church and penetrating into obscure silences only to hear and feel the
more deeply his own condemnation. The sentence of saint James which says that he who
offends against one commandment becomes guilty of all had seemed to him first a swollenphrase until he had begun to grope in the darkness of his own state. From the evil seed of lust
all other deadly sins had sprung forth: pride in himself and contempt of others, covetousness
in using money for the purchase of unlawful pleasure, envy of those whose vices he could not
reach to and calumnious murmuring against the pious, gluttonous enjoyment of food, the
dull glowering anger amid which he brooded upon his longing, the swamp of spiritual and
bodily sloth in which his whole being had sunk.
As he sat in his bench gazing calmly at the rector’s shrewd harsh face his mind wound itself
in and out of the curious questions proposed to it. If a man had stolen a pound in his youth
and had used that pound to amass a huge fortune how much was he obliged to give back, the
pound he had stolen only or the pound together with the compound interest accruing upon it
or all his huge fortune? If a layman in giving baptism pour the water before saying the words is
the child baptised? Is baptism with a mineral water valid? How comes it that while the first
beatitude promises the kingdom of heaven to the poor of heart the second beatitude promises
also to the meek that they shall possess the land? Why was the sacrament of the eucharist
instituted under the two species of bread and wine if Jesus Christ be present body and blood,
soul and divinity, in the bread alone and in the wine alone? Does a tiny particle of the
consecrated bread contain all the body and blood of Jesus Christ or a part only of the body
and blood? If the wine change into vinegar and the host crumble into corruption after they
have been consecrated is Jesus Christ still present under their species as God and as man?
—Here he is! Here he is!
A boy from his post at the window had seen the rector come from the house. All the
catechisms were opened and all heads bent upon them silently. The rector entered and took
his seat on the dais. A gentle kick from the tall boy in the bench behind urged Stephen to ask a
difficult question.
The rector did not ask for a catechism to hear the lesson from. He clasped his hands on the
desk and said:
—The retreat will begin on Wednesday afternoon in honour of saint Francis Xavier whose
feast day is Saturday. The retreat will go on from Wednesday to Friday. On Friday confession
will be heard all the afternoon after beads. If any boys have special confessors perhaps it will
be better for them not to change. Mass will be on Saturday morning at nine o’clock and
general communion for the whole college. Saturday will be a free day. Sunday of course. But
Saturday and Sunday being free days some boys might be inclined to think that Monday is a
free day also. Beware of making that mistake. I think you, Lawless, are likely to make that
mistake.
—I, sir? Why, sir?
A little wave of quiet mirth broke forth over the class of boys from the rector’s grim smile.
Stephen’s heart began slowly to fold and fade with fear like a withering flower.
The rector went on gravely:
—You are all familiar with the story of the life of saint Francis Xavier, I suppose, the patron
of your college. He came of an old and illustrious Spanish family and you remember that he
was one of the first followers of saint Ignatius. They met in Paris where Francis Xavier was
professor of philosophy at the university. This young and brilliant nobleman and man of
letters entered heart and soul into the ideas of our glorious founder, and you know that he, at
his own desire, was sent by saint Ignatius to preach to the Indians. He is called, as you know,
the apostle of the Indies. He went from country to country in the east, from Africa to India,
from India to Japan, baptising the people. He is said to have baptised as many as ten thousand
idolaters in one month. It is said that his right arm had grown powerless from having been
raised so often over the heads of those whom he baptised. He wished then to go to China to
win still more souls for God but he died of fever on the island of Sancian. A great saint, saint
Francis Xavier! A great soldier of God!
The rector paused and then, shaking his clasped hands before him, went on:
—He had the faith in him that moves mountains. Ten thousand souls won for God in a
single month! That is a true conqueror, true to the motto of our order: ad majorem Dei gloriam!A saint who has great power in heaven, remember: power to intercede for us in our grief,
power to obtain whatever we pray for if it be for the good of our souls, power above all to
obtain for us the grace to repent if we be in sin. A great saint, saint Francis Xavier! A great
fisher of souls!
He ceased to shake his clasped hands and, resting them against his forehead, looked right
and left of them keenly at his listeners out of his dark stern eyes.
In the silence their dark fire kindled the dusk into a tawny glow. Stephen’s heart had
withered up like a flower of the desert that feels the simoom coming from afar.
* * *
—Remember only thy last things and thou shalt not sin for ever—words taken, my dear little
brothers in Christ, from the book of Ecclesiastes, seventh chapter, fortieth verse. In the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Stephen sat in the front bench of the chapel. Father Arnall sat at a table to the left of the
altar. He wore about his shoulders a heavy cloak; his pale face was drawn and his voice broken
with rheum. The figure of his old master, so strangely rearisen, brought back to Stephen’s
mind his life at Clongowes: the wide playgrounds, swarming with boys, the square ditch, the
little cemetery off the main avenue of limes where he had dreamed of being buried, the
firelight on the wall of the infirmary where he lay sick, the sorrowful face of Brother Michael.
His soul, as these memories came back to him, became again a child’s soul.
—We are assembled here today, my dear little brothers in Christ, for one brief moment far
away from the busy bustle of the outer world to celebrate and to honour one of the greatest of
saints, the apostle of the Indies, the patron saint also of your college, saint Francis Xavier.
Year after year for much longer than any of you, my dear little boys, can remember or than I
can remember the boys of this college have met in this very chapel to make their annual
retreat before the feast day of their patron saint. Time has gone on and brought with it its
changes. Even in the last few years what changes can most of you not remember? Many of the
boys who sat in those front benches a few years ago are perhaps now in distant lands, in the
burning tropics or immersed in professional duties or in seminaries or voyaging over the vast
expanse of the deep or, it may be, already called by the great God to another life and to the
rendering up of their stewardship. And still as the years roll by, bringing with them changes
for good and bad, the memory of the great saint is honoured by the boys of his college who
make every year their annual retreat on the days preceding the feast day set apart by our holy
mother the church to transmit to all the ages the name and fame of one of the greatest sons of
catholic Spain.
—Now what is the meaning of this word retreat and why is it allowed on all hands to be a
most salutary practice for all who desire to lead before God and in the eyes of men a truly
christian life? A retreat, my dear boys, signifies a withdrawal for a while from the cares of our
life, the cares of this workaday world, in order to examine the state of our conscience, to
reflect on the mysteries of holy religion and to understand better why we are here in this
world. During these few days I intend to put before you some thoughts concerning the four
last things. They are, as you know from your catechism, death, judgment, hell and heaven. We
shall try to understand them fully during these few days so that we may derive from the
understanding of them a lasting benefit to our souls. And remember, my dear boys, that we
have been sent into this world for one thing and for one thing alone: to do God’s holy will and
to save our immortal souls. All else is worthless. One thing alone is needful, the salvation of
one’s soul. What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world if he suffer the loss of his
immortal soul? Ah, my dear boys, believe me there is nothing in this wretched world that can
make up for such a loss.
—I will ask you therefore, my dear boys, to put away from your minds during these few days
all worldly thoughts, whether of study or pleasure or ambition, and to give all your attention to
the state of your souls. I need hardly remind you that during the days of the retreat all boys are
expected to preserve a quiet and pious demeanour and to shun all loud unseemly pleasure.
The elder boys, of course, will see that this custom is not infringed and I look especially to theprefects and officers of the sodality of Our Blessed Lady and of the sodality of the holy angels
to set a good example to their fellowstudents.
—Let us try therefore to make this retreat in honour of saint Francis with our whole heart
and our whole mind. God’s blessing will then be upon all your year’s studies. But, above and
beyond all, let this retreat be one to which you can look back in after years when maybe you
are far from this college and among very different surroundings, to which you can look back
with joy and thankfulness and give thanks to God for having granted you this occasion of
laying the first foundation of a pious honourable zealous christian life. And if, as may so
happen, there be at this moment in these benches any poor soul who has had the unutterable
misfortune to lose God’s holy grace and to fall into grievous sin I fervently trust and pray that
this retreat may be the turningpoint in the life of that soul. I pray to God through the merits of
its zealous servant Francis Xavier that such a soul may be led to sincere repentance and that
the holy communion on saint Francis’ day of this year may be a lasting covenant between God
and that soul. For just and unjust, for saint and sinner alike, may this retreat be a memorable
one.
—Help me, my dear little brothers in Christ. Help me by your pious attention, by your own
devotion, by your outward demeanour. Banish from your minds all worldly thoughts and
think only of the last things, death, judgment, hell and heaven. He who remembers these
things, says Ecclesiastes, shall not sin for ever. He who remembers the last things will act and
think with them always before his eyes. He will live a good life and die a good death, believing
and knowing that, if he has sacrificed much in this earthly life, it will be given to him a
hundredfold and a thousandfold more in the life to come, in the kingdom without end—a
blessing, my dear boys, which I wish you from my heart, one and all, in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
As he walked home with silent companions a thick fog seemed to compass his mind. He
waited in stupor of mind till it should lift and reveal what it had hidden. He ate his dinner with
surly appetite and, when the meal was over and the greasestrewn plates lay abandoned on the
table, he rose and went to the window, clearing the thick scum from his mouth with his
tongue and licking it from his lips. So he had sunk to the state of a beast that licks his chaps
after meat. This was the end; and a faint glimmer of fear began to pierce the fog of his mind.
He pressed his face against the pane of the window and gazed out into the darkening street.
Forms passed this way and that through the dull light. And that was life. The letters of the
name of Dublin lay heavily upon his mind, pushing one another surlily hither and thither with
slow boorish insistence. His soul was fattening and congealing into a gross grease, plunging
ever deeper in its dull fear into a sombre threatening dusk, while the body that was his stood,
listless and dishonoured, gazing out of darkened eyes, helpless, perturbed and human for a
bovine god to stare upon.
The next day brought death and judgment, stirring his soul slowly from its listless despair.
The faint glimmer of fear became a terror of spirit as the hoarse voice of the preacher blew
death into his soul. He suffered its agony. He felt the deathchill touch the extremities and
creep onward towards the heart, the film of death veiling the eyes, the bright centres of the
brain extinguished one by one like lamps, the last sweat oozing upon the skin, the
powerlessness of the dying limbs, the speech thickening and wandering and failing, the heart
throbbing faintly and more faintly, all but vanquished, the breath, the poor breath, the poor
helpless human spirit, sobbing and sighing, gurgling and rattling in the throat. No help! No
help! He, he himself, his body to which he had yielded was dying. Into the grave with it! Nail it
down into a wooden box, the corpse. Carry it out of the house on the shoulders of hirelings.
Thrust it out of men’s sight into a long hole in the ground, into the grave, to rot, to feed the
mass of its creeping worms and to be devoured by scuttling plumpbellied rats.
And while the friends were still standing in tears by the bedside the soul of the sinner was
judged. At the last moment of consciousness the whole earthly life passed before the vision of
the soul and, ere it had time to reflect, the body had died and the soul stood terrified before
the judgmentseat. God, who had long been merciful, would then be just. He had long beenpatient, pleading with the sinful soul, giving it time to repent, sparing it yet awhile. But that
time had gone. Time was to sin and to enjoy, time was to scoff at God and at the warnings of
His holy church, time was to defy His majesty, to disobey His commands, to hoodwink one’s
fellow men, to commit sin after sin and sin after sin and to hide one’s corruption from the
sight of men. But that time was over. Now it was God’s turn: and He was not to be hoodwinked
or deceived. Every sin would then come forth from its lurkingplace, the most rebellious
against the divine will and the most degrading to our poor corrupt nature, the tiniest
imperfection and the most heinous atrocity. What did it avail then to have been a great
emperor, a great general, a marvellous inventor, the most learned of the learned? All were as
one before the judgmentseat of God. He would reward the good and punish the wicked. One
single instant was enough for the trial of a man’s soul. One single instant after the body’s
death, the soul had been weighed in the balance. The particular judgment was over and the
soul had passed to the abode of bliss or to the prison of purgatory or had been hurled howling
into hell.
Nor was that all. God’s justice had still to be vindicated before men: after the particular
there still remained the general judgment. The last day had come. Doomsday was at hand.
The stars of heaven were falling upon the earth like the figs cast by the figtree which the wind
has shaken. The sun, the great luminary of the universe, had become as sackcloth of hair. The
moon was bloodred. The firmament was as a scroll rolled away. The archangel Michael, the
prince of the heavenly host, appeared glorious and terrible against the sky. With one foot on
the sea and one foot on the land he blew from the archangelical trumpet the brazen death of
time. The three blasts of the angel filled all the universe. Time is, time was but time shall be no
more. At the last blast the souls of universal humanity throng towards the valley of
Jehosephat, rich and poor, gentle and simple, wise and foolish, good and wicked. The soul of
every human being that has ever existed, the souls of all those who shall yet be born, all the
sons and daughters of Adam, all are assembled on that supreme day. And lo the supreme
judge is coming! No longer the lowly Lamb of God, no longer the meek Jesus of Nazareth, no
longer the Man of Sorrows, no longer the Good Shepherd, He is seen now coming upon the
clouds, in great power and majesty, attended by nine choirs of angels, angels and archangels,
principalities, powers and virtues, thrones and dominations, cherubim and seraphim, God
Omnipotent, God Everlasting. He speaks: and His voice is heard even at the farthest limits of
space, even in the bottomless abyss. Supreme Judge, from His sentence there will be and can
be no appeal. He calls the just to His side, bidding them enter into the kingdom, the eternity of
bliss, prepared for them. The unjust He casts from Him, crying in His offended majesty: Depart
from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. O what
agony then for the miserable sinners! Friend is torn apart from friend, children are torn from
their parents, husbands from their wives. The poor sinner holds out his arms to those who
were dear to him in this earthly world, to those whose simple piety perhaps he made a mock
of, to those who counselled him and tried to lead him on the right path, to a kind brother, to a
loving sister, to the mother and father who loved him so dearly. But it is too late: the just turn
away from the wretched damned souls which now appear before the eyes of all in their
hideous and evil character. O you hypocrites, O you whited sepulchres, O you who present a
smooth smiling face to the world while your soul within is a foul swamp of sin, how will it fare
with you in that terrible day?
And this day will come, shall come, must come; the day of death and the day of judgment. It
is appointed unto man to die and after death the judgment. Death is certain. The time and
manner are uncertain, whether from long disease or from some unexpected accident; the Son
of God cometh at an hour when you little expect Him. Be therefore ready every moment,
seeing that you may die at any moment. Death is the end of us all. Death and judgment,
brought into the world by the sin of our first parents, are the dark portals that close our earthly
existence, the portals that open into the unknown and the unseen, portals through which
every soul must pass, alone, unaided save by its good works, without friend or brother or
parent or master to help it, alone and trembling. Let that thought be ever before our mindsand then we cannot sin. Death, a cause of terror to the sinner, is a blessed moment for him
who has walked in the right path, fulfilling the duties of his station in life, attending to his
morning and evening prayers, approaching the holy sacrament frequently and performing
good and merciful works. For the pious and believing catholic, for the just man, death is no
cause of terror. Was it not Addison, the great English writer, who, when on his deathbed, sent
for the wicked young earl of Warwick to let him see how a christian can meet his end. He it is
and he alone, the pious and believing christian, who can say in his heart:
O grave, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?
Every word of it was for him. Against his sin, foul and secret, the whole wrath of God was
aimed. The preacher’s knife had probed deeply into his diseased conscience and he felt now
that his soul was festering in sin. Yes, the preacher was right. God’s turn had come. Like a
beast in its lair his soul had lain down in its own filth but the blasts of the angel’s trumpet had
driven him forth from the darkness of sin into the light. The words of doom cried by the angel
shattered in an instant his presumptuous peace. The wind of the last day blew through his
mind; his sins, the jeweleyed harlots of his imagination, fled before the hurricane, squeaking
like mice in their terror and huddled under a mane of hair.
As he crossed the square, walking homeward, the light laughter of a girl reached his
burning ear. The frail gay sound smote his heart more strongly than a trumpetblast, and, not
daring to lift his eyes, he turned aside and gazed, as he walked, into the shadow of the tangled
shrubs. Shame rose from his smitten heart and flooded his whole being. The image of Emma
appeared before him and, under her eyes, the flood of shame rushed forth anew from his
heart. If she knew to what his mind had subjected her or how his brutelike lust had torn and
trampled upon her innocence! Was that boyish love? Was that chivalry? Was that poetry? The
sordid details of his orgies stank under his very nostrils: the sootcoated packet of pictures
which he had hidden in the flue of the fireplace and in the presence of whose shameless or
bashful wantonness he lay for hours sinning in thought and deed; his monstrous dreams,
peopled by apelike creatures and by harlots with gleaming jewel eyes; the foul long letters he
had written in the joy of guilty confession and carried secretly for days and days only to throw
them under cover of night among the grass in the corner of a field or beneath some hingeless
door or in some niche in the hedges where a girl might come upon them as she walked by and
read them secretly. Mad! Mad! Was it possible he had done these things? A cold sweat broke
out upon his forehead as the foul memories condensed within his brain.
When the agony of shame had passed from him he tried to raise his soul from its abject
powerlessness. God and the Blessed Virgin were too far from him: God was too great and stern
and the Blessed Virgin too pure and holy. But he imagined that he stood near Emma in a wide
land and, humbly and in tears, bent and kissed the elbow of her sleeve.
In the wide land under a tender lucid evening sky, a cloud drifting westward amid a pale
green sea of heaven, they stood together, children that had erred. Their error had offended
deeply God’s majesty though it was the error of two children, but it had not offended her
whose beauty is not like earthly beauty, dangerous to look upon, but like the morning star which is
its emblem, bright and musical. The eyes were not offended which she turned upon them nor
reproachful. She placed their hands together, hand in hand, and said, speaking to their
hearts:
—Take hands, Stephen and Emma. It is a beautiful evening now in heaven. You have erred
but you are always my children. It is one heart that loves another heart. Take hands together,
my dear children, and you will be happy together and your hearts will love each other.
The chapel was flooded by the dull scarlet light that filtered through the lowered blinds;
and through the fissure between the last blind and the sash a shaft of wan light entered like a
spear and touched the embossed brasses of the candlesticks upon the altar that gleamed like
the battleworn mail armour of angels.
Rain was falling on the chapel, on the garden, on the college. It would rain for ever,
noiselessly. The water would rise inch by inch, covering the grass and shrubs, covering thetrees and houses, covering the monuments and the mountain tops. All life would be choked
off, noiselessly: birds, men, elephants, pigs, children: noiselessly floating corpses amid the
litter of the wreckage of the world. Forty days and forty nights the rain would fall till the waters
covered the face of the earth.
It might be. Why not?
—Hell has enlarged its soul and opened its mouth without any limits—words taken, my dear
little brothers in Christ Jesus, from the book of Isaias, fifth chapter, fourteenth verse. In the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The preacher took a chainless watch from a pocket within his soutane and, having
considered its dial for a moment in silence, placed it silently before him on the table.
He began to speak in a quiet tone.
—Adam and Eve, my dear boys, were, as you know, our first parents and you will remember
that they were created by God in order that the seats in heaven left vacant by the fall of Lucifer
and his rebellious angels might be filled again. Lucifer, we are told, was a son of the morning,
a radiant and mighty angel; yet he fell: he fell and there fell with him a third part of the host of
heaven: he fell and was hurled with his rebellious angels into hell. What his sin was we cannot
say. Theologians consider that it was the sin of pride, the sinful thought conceived in an
instant: non serviam: I will not serve. That instant was his ruin. He offended the majesty of God
by the sinful thought of one instant and God cast him out of heaven into hell for ever.
—Adam and Eve were then created by God and placed in Eden, in the plain of Damascus,
that lovely garden resplendent with sunlight and colour, teeming with luxuriant vegetation.
The fruitful earth gave them her bounty: beasts and birds were their willing servants: they
knew not the ills our flesh is heir to, disease and poverty and death: all that a great and
generous God could do for them was done. But there was one condition imposed on them by
God: obedience to His word. They were not to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree.
—Alas, my dear little boys, they too fell. The devil, once a shining angel, a son of the
morning, now a foul fiend, came in the shape of a serpent, the subtlest of all the beasts of the
field. He envied them. He, the fallen great one, could not bear to think that man, a being of
clay, should possess the inheritance which he by his sin had forfeited for ever. He came to the
woman, the weaker vessel, and poured the poison of his eloquence into her ear, promising her
—O, the blasphemy of that promise!—that if she and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit they
would become as gods, nay as God Himself. Eve yielded to the wiles of the archtempter. She
ate the apple and gave it also to Adam who had not the moral courage to resist her. The
poison tongue of Satan had done its work. They fell.
—And then the voice of God was heard in that garden, calling His creature man to account:
and Michael, prince of the heavenly host, with a sword of flame in his hand appeared before
the guilty pair and drove them forth from Eden into the world, the world of sickness and
striving, of cruelty and disappointment, of labour and hardship, to earn their bread in the
sweat of their brow. But even then how merciful was God! He took pity on our poor degraded
parents and promised that in the fulness of time He would send down from heaven One who
would redeem them, make them once more children of God and heirs to the kingdom of
heaven: and that One, that Redeemer of fallen man, was to be God’s onlybegotten Son, the
Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word.
—He came. He was born of a virgin pure, Mary the virgin mother. He was born in a poor
cowhouse in Judea and lived as a humble carpenter for thirty years until the hour of His
mission had come. And then, filled with love for men, He went forth and called to men to hear
the new gospel.
—Did they listen? Yes, they listened but would not hear. He was seized and bound like a
common criminal, mocked at as a fool, set aside to give place to a public robber, scourged
with five thousand lashes, crowned with a crown of thorns, hustled through the streets by the
jewish rabble and the Roman soldiery, stripped of His garments and hanged upon a gibbet
and His side was pierced with a lance and from the wounded body of Our Lord water and
blood issued continually.—Yet even then, in that hour of supreme agony, Our Merciful Redeemer had pity for
mankind. Yet even there, on the hill of Calvary, He founded the holy catholic church against
which, it is promised, the gates of hell shall not prevail. He founded it upon the rock of ages
and endowed it with His grace, with sacraments and sacrifice, and promised that if men
would obey the word of His church they would still enter into eternal life but if, after all that
had been done for them, they still persisted in their wickedness there remained for them an
eternity of torment: hell.
The preacher’s voice sank. He paused, joined his palms for an instant, parted them. Then
he resumed:
—Now let us try for a moment to realise, as far as we can, the nature of that abode of the
damned which the justice of an offended God has called into existence for the eternal
punishment of sinners. Hell is a strait and dark and foulsmelling prison, an abode of demons
and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prisonhouse is expressly
designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws. In earthly prisons the
poor captive has at least some liberty of movement, were it only within the four walls of his cell
or in the gloomy yard of his prison. Not so in hell. There, by reason of the great number of the
damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to
be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a
blessed saint, saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove
from the eye a worm that gnaws it.
—They lie in exterior darkness. For, remember, the fire of hell gives forth no light. As, at the
command of God, the fire of the Babylonian furnace lost its heat but not its light so, at the
command of God, the fire of hell, while retaining the intensity of its heat, burns eternally in
darkness. It is a neverending storm of darkness, dark flames and dark smoke of burning
brimstone, amid which the bodies are heaped one upon another without even a glimpse of
air. Of all the plagues with which the land of the Pharaohs was smitten one plague alone, that
of darkness, was called horrible. What name, then, shall we give to the darkness of hell which
is to last not for three days alone but for all eternity?
—The horror of this strait and dark prison is increased by its awful stench. All the filth of
the world, all the offal and scum of the world, we are told, shall run there as to a vast reeking
sewer when the terrible conflagration of the last day has purged the world. The brimstone too
which burns there in such prodigious quantity fills all hell with its intolerable stench; and the
bodies of the damned themselves exhale such a pestilential odour that as saint Bonaventure
says, one of them alone would suffice to infect the whole world. The very air of this world, that
pure element, becomes foul and unbreathable when it has been long enclosed. Consider then
what must be the foulness of the air of hell. Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has lain
rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jellylike mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a
corpse a prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense
choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then imagine this sickening
stench, multiplied a millionfold and a millionfold again from the millions upon millions of
fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus.
Imagine all this and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.
—But this stench is not, horrible though it is, the greatest physical torment to which the
damned are subjected. The torment of fire is the greatest torment to which the tyrant has ever
subjected his fellowcreatures. Place your finger for a moment in the flame of a candle and you
will feel the pain of fire. But our earthly fire was created by God for the benefit of man, to
maintain in him the spark of life and to help him in the useful arts whereas the fire of hell is of
another quality and was created by God to torture and punish the unrepentant sinner. Our
earthly fire also consumes more or less rapidly according as the object which it attacks is
more or less combustible so that human ingenuity has even succeeded in inventing chemical
preparations to check or frustrate its action. But the suphurous brimstone which burns in hell
is a substance which is specially designed to burn for ever and for ever with unspeakable fury.
Moreover our earthly fire destroys at the same time as it burns so that the more intense it is theshorter is its duration: but the fire of hell has this property that it preserves that which it burns
and though it rages with incredible intensity it rages for ever.
—Our earthly fire again, no matter how fierce or widespread it may be, is always of a limited
extent: but the lake of fire in hell is boundless, shoreless and bottomless. It is on record that
the devil himself, when asked the question by a certain soldier, was obliged to confess that if a
whole mountain were thrown into the burning ocean of hell it would be burned up in an
instant like a piece of wax. And this terrible fire will not afflict the bodies of the damned only
from without but each lost soul will be a hell unto itself, the boundless fire raging in its very
vitals. O, how terrible is the lot of those wretched beings! The blood seethes and boils in the
veins, the brains are boiling in the skull, the heart in the breast glowing and bursting, the
bowels a redhot mass of burning pulp, the tender eyes flaming like molten balls.
—And yet what I have said as to the strength and quality and boundlessness of this fire is as
nothing when compared to its intensity, an intensity which it has as being the instrument
chosen by divine design for the punishment of soul and body alike. It is a fire which proceeds
directly from the ire of God, working not of its own activity but as an instrument of divine
vengeance. As the waters of baptism cleanse the soul with the body so do the fires of
punishment torture the spirit with the flesh. Every sense of the flesh is tortured and every
faculty of the soul therewith: the eyes with impenetrable utter darkness, the nose with
noisome odours, the ears with yells and howls and execrations, the taste with foul matter,
leprous corruption, nameless suffocating filth, the touch with redhot goads and spikes, with
cruel tongues of flame. And through the several torments of the senses the immortal soul is
tortured eternally in its very essence amid the leagues upon leagues of glowing fires kindled in
the abyss by the offended majesty of the Omnipotent God and fanned into everlasting and
ever increasing fury by the breath of the anger of the Godhead.
—Consider finally that the torment of this infernal prison is increased by the company of
the damned themselves. Evil company on earth is so noxious that even the plants, as if by
instinct, withdraw from the company of whatsoever is deadly or hurtful to them. In hell all
laws are overturned: there is no thought of family or country, of ties, of relationships. The
damned howl and scream at one another, their torture and rage intensified by the presence of
beings tortured and raging like themselves. All sense of humanity is forgotten. The yells of the
suffering sinners fill the remotest corners of the vast abyss. The mouths of the damned are full
of blasphemies against God and of hatred for their fellowsufferers and of curses against those
souls which were their accomplices in sin. In olden times it was the custom to punish the
parricide, the man who had raised his murderous hand against his father, by casting him into
the depths of the sea in a sack in which were placed a cock, a monkey and a serpent. The
intention of those lawgivers who framed such a law, which seems cruel in our times, was to
punish the criminal by the company of hateful and hurtful beasts. But what is the fury of those
dumb beasts compared with the fury of execration which bursts from the parched lips and
aching throats of the damned in hell when they behold in their companions in misery those
who aided and abetted them in sin, those whose words sowed the first seeds of evil thinking
and evil living in their minds, those whose immodest suggestions led them on to sin, those
whose eyes tempted and allured them from the path of virtue. They turn upon those
accomplices and upbraid them and curse them. But they are helpless and hopeless: it is too
late now for repentance.
—Last of all consider the frightful torment to those damned souls, tempters and tempted
alike, of the company of the devils. These devils will afflict the damned in two ways, by their
presence and by their reproaches. We can have no idea of how horrible these devils are. Saint
Catherine of Siena once saw a devil and she has written that, rather than look again for one
single instant on such a frightful monster, she would prefer to walk until the end of her life
along a track of red coals. These devils, who were once beautiful angels, have become as
hideous and ugly as they once were beautiful. They mock and jeer at the lost souls whom they
dragged down to ruin. It is they, the foul demons, who are made in hell the voices of
conscience. Why did you sin? Why did you lend an ear to the temptings of fiends? Why did youturn aside from your pious practices and good works? Why did you not shun the occasions of
sin? Why did you not leave that evil companion? Why did you not give up that lewd habit, that
impure habit? Why did you not listen to the counsels of your confessor? Why did you not, even
after you had fallen the first or the second or the third or the fourth or the hundredth time,
repent of your evil ways and turn to God who only waited for your repentance to absolve you of
your sins? Now the time for repentance has gone by. Time is, time was, but time shall be no
more! Time was to sin in secrecy, to indulge in that sloth and pride, to covet the unlawful, to
yield to the promptings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, nay worse than
the beasts of the field for they, at least, are but brutes and have not reason to guide them: time
was but time shall be no more. God spoke to you by so many voices but you would not hear.
You would not crush out that pride and anger in your heart, you would not restore those
illgotten goods, you would not obey the precepts of your holy church nor attend to your
religious duties, you would not abandon those wicked companions, you would not avoid
those dangerous temptations. Such is the language of those fiendish tormentors, words of
taunting and of reproach, of hatred and of disgust. Of disgust, yes! For even they, the very
devils, when they sinned sinned by such a sin as alone was compatible with such angelical
natures, a rebellion of the intellect: and they, even they, the foul devils must turn away,
revolted and disgusted, from the contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which degraded
man outrages and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and pollutes himself.
—O, my dear little brothers in Christ, may it never be our lot to hear that language! May it
never be our lot, I say! In the last day of terrible reckoning I pray fervently to God that not a
single soul of those who are in this chapel today may be found among those miserable beings
whom the Great Judge shall command to depart for ever from His sight, that not one of us
may ever hear ringing in his ears the awful sentence of rejection: Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels!
He came down the aisle of the chapel, his legs shaking and the scalp of his head trembling
as though it had been touched by ghostly fingers. He passed up the staircase and into the
corridor along the walls of which the overcoats and waterproofs hung like gibbeted
malefactors, headless and dripping and shapeless. And at every step he feared that he had
already died, that his soul had been wrenched forth of the sheath of his body, that he was
plunging headlong through space.
He could not grip the floor with his feet and sat heavily at his desk, opening one of his books
at random and poring over it. Every word for him! It was true. God was almighty. God could
call him now, call him as he sat at his desk, before he had time to be conscious of the
summons. God had called him. Yes? What? Yes? His flesh shrank together as it felt the
approach of the ravenous tongues of flames, dried up as it felt about it the swirl of stifling air.
He had died. Yes. He was judged. A wave of fire swept through his body: the first. Again a wave.
His brain began to glow. Another. His brain was simmering and bubbling within the cracking
tenement of the skull. Flames burst forth from his skull like a corolla, shrieking like voices:
—Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell!
Voices spoke near him:
—On hell.
—I suppose he rubbed it into you well.
—You bet he did. He put us all into a blue funk.
—That’s what you fellows want: and plenty of it to make you work.
He leaned back weakly in his desk. He had not died. God had spared him still. He was still in
the familiar world of the school. Mr Tate and Vincent Heron stood at the window, talking,
jesting, gazing out at the bleak rain, moving their heads.
—I wish it would clear up. I had arranged to go for a spin on the bike with some fellows out
by Malahide. But the roads must be kneedeep.
—It might clear up, sir.
The voices that he knew so well, the common words, the quiet of the classroom when the
voices paused and the silence was filled by the sound of softly browsing cattle as the otherboys munched their lunches tranquilly, lulled his aching soul.
There was still time. O Mary, refuge of sinners, intercede for him! O Virgin Undefiled, save
him from the gulf of death!
The English lesson began with the hearing of the history. Royal persons, favourites,
intriguers, bishops, passed like mute phantoms behind their veil of names. All had died: all
had been judged. What did it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lost his soul? At last he
had understood: and human life lay around him, a plain of peace whereon antlike men
laboured in brotherhood, their dead sleeping under quiet mounds. The elbow of his
companion touched him and his heart was touched: and when he spoke to answer a question
of his master he heard his own voice full of the quietude of humility and contrition.
His soul sank back deeper into depths of contrite peace, no longer able to suffer the pain of
dread, and sending forth, as she sank, a faint prayer. Ah yes, he would still be spared; he would
repent in his heart and be forgiven; and then those above, those in heaven, would see what he
would do to make up for the past: a whole life, every hour of life. Only wait.
—All, God! All, all!
A messenger came to the door to say that confessions were being heard in the chapel. Four
boys left the room; and he heard others passing down the corridor. A tremulous chill blew
round his heart, no stronger than a little wind, and yet, listening and suffering silently, he
seemed to have laid an ear against the muscle of his own heart, feeling it close and quail,
listening to the flutter of its ventricles.
No escape. He had to confess, to speak out in words what he had done and thought, sin
after sin. How? How?
—Father, I …
The thought slid like a cold shining rapier into his tender flesh: confession. But not there in
the chapel of the college. He would confess all, every sin of deed and thought, sincerely: but
not there among his school companions. Far away from there in some dark place he would
murmur out his own shame: and he besought God humbly not to be offended with him if he
did not dare to confess in the college chapel: and in utter abjection of spirit he craved
forgiveness mutely of the boyish hearts about him.
Time passed.
He sat again in the front bench of the chapel. The daylight without was already failing and,
as it fell slowly through the dull red blinds, it seemed that the sun of the last day was going
down and that all souls were being gathered for the judgment.
—I am cast away from the sight of Thine eyes: words taken, my dear little brothers in Christ,
from the Book of Psalms, thirtieth chapter, twentythird verse. In the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The preacher began to speak in a quiet friendly tone. His face was kind and he joined gently
the fingers of each hand, forming a frail cage by the union of their tips.
—This morning we endeavoured, in our reflection upon hell, to make what our holy
founder calls in his book of spiritual exercises, the composition of place. We endeavoured,
that is, to imagine with the senses of the mind, in our imagination, the material character of
that awful place and of the physical torments which all who are in hell endure. This evening
we shall consider for a few moments the nature of the spiritual torments of hell.
—Sin, remember, is a twofold enormity. It is a base consent to the promptings of our
corrupt nature to the lower instincts, to that which is gross and beastlike; and it is also a
turning away from the counsel of our higher nature, from all that is pure and holy, from the
Holy God Himself. For this reason mortal sin is punished in hell by two different forms of
punishment, physical and spiritual.
—Now of all these spiritual pains by far the greatest is the pain of loss, so great, in fact, that
in itself it is a torment greater than all the others. Saint Thomas, the greatest doctor of the
church, the angelic doctor, as he is called, says that the worst damnation consists in this that
the understanding of man is totally deprived of divine light and his affection obstinately
turned away from the goodness of God. God, remember, is a being infinitely good andtherefore the loss of such a being must be a loss infinitely painful. In this life we have not a
very clear idea of what such a loss must be but the damned in hell, for their greater torment,
have a full understanding of that which they have lost and understand that they have lost it
through their own sins and have lost it for ever. At the very instant of death the bonds of the
flesh are broken asunder and the soul at once flies towards God. The soul tends towards God
as towards the centre of her existence. Remember, my dear little boys, our souls long to be
with God. We come from God, we live by God, we belong to God: we are His, inalienably His.
God loves with a divine love every human soul and every human soul lives in that love. How
could it be otherwise? Every breath that we draw, every thought of our brain, every instant of
life proceed from God’s inexhaustible goodness. And if it be pain for a mother to be parted
from her child, for a man to be exiled from hearth and home, for friend to be sundered from
friend, O think what pain, what anguish, it must be for the poor soul to be spurned from the
presence of the supremely good and loving Creator Who has called that soul into existence
from nothingness and sustained it in life and loved it with an immeasurable love. This, then,
to be separated for ever from its greatest good, from God, and to feel the anguish of that
separation, knowing full well that it is unchangeable, this is the greatest torment which the
created soul is capable of bearing, pœna damni, the pain of loss.
—The second pain which will afflict the souls of the damned in hell is the pain of
conscience. Just as in dead bodies worms are engendered by putrefaction so in the souls of the
lost there arises a perpetual remorse from the putrefaction of sin, the sting of conscience, the
worm, as Pope Innocent the Third calls it, of the triple sting. The first sting inflicted by this
cruel worm will be the memory of past pleasures. O what a dreadful memory will that be! In
the lake of alldevouring flame the proud king will remember the pomps of his court, the wise
but wicked man his libraries and instruments of research, the lover of artistic pleasures his
marbles and pictures and other art treasures, he who delighted in the pleasures of the table
his gorgeous feasts, his dishes prepared with such delicacy, his choice wines; the miser will
remember his hoard of gold, the robber his illgotten wealth, the angry and revengeful and
merciless murderers their deeds of blood and violence in which they revelled, the impure and
adulterous the unspeakable and filthy pleasures in which they delighted. They will remember
all this and loathe themselves and their sins. For how miserable will all those pleasures seem
to the soul condemned to suffer in hellfire for ages and ages. How they will rage and fume to
think that they have lost the bliss of heaven for the dross of earth, for a few pieces of metal, for
vain honours, for bodily comforts, for a tingling of the nerves. They will repent indeed: and
this is the second sting of the worm of conscience, a late and fruitless sorrow for sins
committed. Divine justice insists that the understanding of those miserable wretches be fixed
continually on the sins of which they were guilty and moreover, as saint Augustine points out,
God will impart to them His own knowledge of sin so that sin will appear to them in all its
hideous malice as it appears to the eyes of God Himself. They will behold their sins in all their
foulness and repent but it will be too late and then they will bewail the good occasions which
they neglected. This is the last and deepest and most cruel sting of the worm of conscience.
The conscience will say: You had time and opportunity to repent and would not. You were
brought up religiously by your parents. You had the sacraments and graces and indulgences
of the church to aid you. You had the minister of God to preach to you, to call you back when
you had strayed, to forgive you your sins, no matter how many, how abominable, if only you
had confessed and repented. No. You would not. You flouted the ministers of holy religion,
you turned your back on the confessional, you wallowed deeper and deeper in the mire of sin.
God appealed to you, threatened you, entreated you to return to Him. O what shame, what
misery! The Ruler of the universe entreated you, a creature of clay, to love Him Who made you
and to keep His law. No. You would not. And now, though you were to flood all hell with your
tears if you could still weep, all that sea of repentance would not gain for you what a single tear
of true repentance shed during your mortal life would have gained for you. You implore now a
moment of earthly life wherein to repent: in vain. That time is gone: gone for ever.
—Such is the threefold sting of conscience, the viper which gnaws the very heart’s core ofthe wretches in hell so that filled with hellish fury they curse themselves for their folly and
curse the evil companions who have brought them to such ruin and curse the devils who
tempted them in life and now mock them and torture them in eternity and even revile and
curse the Supreme Being Whose goodness and patience they scorned and slighted but Whose
justice and power they cannot evade.
—The next spiritual pain to which the damned are subjected is the pain of extension. Man,
in this earthly life, though he be capable of many evils, is not capable of them all at once
inasmuch as one evil corrects and counteracts another just as one poison frequently corrects
another. In hell on the contrary one torment, instead of counteracting another, lends it still
greater force: and moreover as the internal faculties are more perfect than the external senses,
so are they more capable of suffering. Just as every sense is afflicted with a fitting torment so is
every spiritual faculty; the fancy with horrible images, the sensitive faculty with alternate
longing and rage, the mind and understanding with an interior darkness more terrible even
than the exterior darkness which reigns in that dreadful prison. The malice, impotent though
it be, which possesses these demon souls is an evil of boundless extension, of limitless
duration, a frightful state of wickedness which we can scarcely realise unless we bear in mind
the enormity of sin and the hatred God bears to it.
—Opposed to this pain of extension and yet coexistent with it we have the pain of intensity.
Hell is the centre of evils and, as you know, things are more intense at their centres than at
their remotest points. There are no contraries or admixtures of any kind to temper or soften in
the least the pains of hell. Nay, things which are good in themselves become evil in hell.
Company, elsewhere a source of comfort to the afflicted, will be there a continual torment:
knowledge, so much longed for as the chief good of the intellect, will there be hated worse
than ignorance: light, so much coveted by all creatures from the lord of creation down to the
humblest plant in the forest, will be loathed intensely. In this life our sorrows are either not
very long or not very great because nature either overcomes them by habits or puts an end to
them by sinking under their weight. But in hell the torments cannot be overcome by habit. For
while they are of terrible intensity they are at the same time of continual variety, each pain, so
to speak, taking fire from another and reendowing that which has enkindled it with a still
fiercer flame. Nor can nature escape from these intense and various tortures by succumbing
to them for the soul is sustained and maintained in evil so that its suffering may be the
greater. Boundless extension of torment, incredible intensity of suffering, unceasing variety of
torture—this is what the divine majesty, so outraged by sinners, demands, this is what the
holiness of heaven, slighted and set aside for the lustful and low pleasures of the corrupt flesh,
requires, this is what the blood of the innocent Lamb of God, shed for the redemption of
sinners, trampled upon by the vilest of the vile, insists upon.
—Last and crowning torture of all the tortures of that awful place is the eternity of hell.
Eternity! O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And,
remember, it is an eternity of pain. Even though the pains of hell were not so terrible as they
are yet they would become infinite as they are destined to last for ever. But while they are
everlasting they are at the same time, as you know, intolerably intense, unbearably extensive.
To bear even the sting of an insect for all eternity would be a dreadful torment. What must it
be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell for ever? For ever! For all eternity! Not for a year
or for an age but for ever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the
sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go
to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of
that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million
miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness: and imagine such
an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the
forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals,
atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little
bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many
millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even asquare foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away
all. Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be
said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have
scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away and if the
bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain: and if it so rose and sank as many
times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the
trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those
innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant
of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of
time the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would have scarcely
begun.
—A holy saint (one of our own fathers I believe it was) was once vouchsafed a vision of hell.
It seemed to him that he stood in the midst of a great hall, dark and silent save for the ticking
of a great clock. The ticking went on unceasingly; and it seemed to this saint that the sound of
the ticking was the ceaseless repetition of the words: ever, never; ever, never. Ever to be in hell,
never to be in heaven; ever to be shut off from the presence of God, never to enjoy the beatific
vision; ever to be eaten with flames, gnawed by vermin, goaded with burning spikes, never to
be free from those pains; ever to have the conscience upbraid one, the memory enrage, the
mind filled with darkness and despair, never to escape; ever to curse and revile the foul
demons who gloat fiendishly over the misery of their dupes, never to behold the shining
raiment of the blessed spirits; ever to cry out of the abyss of fire to God for an instant, a single
instant, of respite from such awful agony, never to receive, even for an instant, God’s pardon;
ever to suffer, never to enjoy; ever to be damned, never to be saved; ever, never; ever, never. O
what a dreadful punishment! An eternity of endless agony, of endless bodily and spiritual
torment, without one ray of hope, without one moment of cessation, of agony limitless in
extent, limitless in intensity, of torment infinitely lasting, infinitely varied, of torture that
sustains eternally that which it eternally devours, of anguish that everlastingly preys upon the
spirit while it racks the flesh, an eternity, every instant of which is itself an eternity, and that
eternity an eternity of woe. Such is the terrible punishment decreed for those who die in
mortal sin by an almighty and a just God.
—Yes, a just God! Men, reasoning always as men, are astonished that God should mete out
an everlasting and infinite punishment in the fires of hell for a single grievous sin. They
reason thus because, blinded by the gross illusion of the flesh and the darkness of human
understanding, they are unable to comprehend the hideous malice of mortal sin. They reason
thus because they are unable to comprehend that even venial sin is of such a foul and hideous
nature that even if the omnipotent Creator could end all the evil and misery in the world, the
wars, the diseases, the robberies, the crimes, the deaths, the murders, on condition that He
allowed a single venial sin to pass unpunished, a single venial sin, a lie, an angry look, a
moment of wilful sloth, He, the great omnipotent God, could not do so because sin, be it in
thought or deed, is a transgression of His law and God would not be God if He did not punish
the transgressor.
—A sin, an instant of rebellious pride of the intellect, made Lucifer and a third part of the
cohorts of angels fall from their glory. A sin, an instant of folly and weakness, drove Adam and
Eve out of Eden and brought death and suffering into the world. To retrieve the consequences
of that sin the Only Begotten Son of God came down to earth, lived and suffered and died a
most painful death, hanging for three hours on the cross.
—O, my dear little brethren in Christ Jesus, will we then offend that good Redeemer and
provoke His anger? Will we trample again upon that torn and mangled corpse? Will we spit
upon that face so full of sorrow and love? Will we too, like the cruel jews and the brutal
soldiers, mock that gentle and compassionate Saviour Who trod alone for our sake the awful
winepress of sorrow? Every word of sin is a wound in His tender side. Every sinful act is a thorn
piercing His head. Every impure thought, deliberately yielded to, is a keen lance transfixing
that sacred and loving heart. No, no. It is impossible for any human being to do that whichoffends so deeply the divine majesty, that which is punished by an eternity of agony, that
which crucifies again the Son of God and makes a mockery of Him.
—I pray to God that my poor words may have availed today to confirm in holiness those
who are in a state of grace, to strengthen the wavering, to lead back to the state of grace the
poor soul that has strayed if any such be among you. I pray to God, and do you pray with me,
that we may repent of our sins. I will ask you now, all of you, to repeat after me the act of
contrition, kneeling here in this humble chapel in the presence of God. He is there in the
tabernacle burning with love for mankind, ready to comfort the afflicted. Be not afraid. No
matter how many or how foul the sins if only you repent of them they will be forgiven you. Let
no worldly shame hold you back. God is still the merciful Lord Who wishes not the eternal
death of the sinner but rather that he be converted and live.
—He calls you to Him. You are His. He made you out of nothing. He loved you as only a God
can love. His arms are open to receive you even though you have sinned against Him. Come to
Him, poor sinner, poor vain and erring sinner. Now is the acceptable time. Now is the hour.
The priest rose and, turning towards the altar, knelt upon the step before the tabernacle in
the fallen gloom. He waited till all in the chapel had knelt and every least noise was still. Then,
raising his head, he repeated the act of contrition, phrase by phrase, with fervour. The boys
answered him phrase by phrase. Stephen, his tongue cleaving to his palate, bowed his head,
praying with his heart.
—O my God!—
—O my God!—
—I am heartily sorry—
—I am heartily sorry—
—for having offended Thee—
—for having offended Thee—
—and I detest my sins—
—and I detest my sins—
—above every other evil—
—above every other evil—
—because they displease Thee, my God—
—because they displease Thee, my God—
—Who art so deserving—
—Who art so deserving—
—of all my love—
—of all my love—
—and I firmly purpose—
—and I firmly purpose—
—by Thy holy grace—
—by Thy holy grace—
—never more to offend Thee—
—never more to offend Thee—
—and to amend my life—
—and to amend my life—
* * *
He went up to his room after dinner in order to be alone with his soul: and at every step his
soul seemed to sigh: at every step his soul mounted with his feet, sighing in the ascent,
through a region of viscid gloom.
He halted on the landing before the door and then, grasping the porcelain knob, opened
the door quickly. He waited in fear, his soul pining within him, praying silently that death
might not touch his brow as he passed over the threshold, that the fiends that inhabit
darkness might not be given power over him. He waited still at the threshold as at the
entrance to some dark cave. Faces were there; eyes: they waited and watched.—We knew perfectly well of course that although it was bound to come to the light he
would find considerable difficulty in endeavouring to try to induce himself to try to endeavour
to ascertain the spiritual plenipotentiary and so we knew of course perfectly well—
Murmuring faces waited and watched; murmurous voices filled the dark shell of the cave.
He feared intensely in spirit and in flesh but, raising his head bravely, he strode into the room
firmly. A doorway, a room, the same room, same window. He told himself calmly that those
words had absolutely no sense which had seemed to rise murmurously from the dark. He told
himself that it was simply his room with the door open.
He closed the door and, walking swiftly to the bed, knelt beside it and covered his face with
his hands. His hands were cold and damp and his limbs ached with chill. Bodily unrest and
chill and weariness beset him, routing his thoughts. Why was he kneeling there like a child
saying his evening prayers? To be alone with his soul, to examine his conscience, to meet his
sins face to face, to recall their times and manners and circumstances, to weep over them. He
could not weep. He could not summon them to his memory. He felt only an ache of soul and
body, his whole being, memory, will, understanding, flesh, benumbed and weary.
That was the work of devils, to scatter his thoughts and overcloud his conscience, assailing
him at the gates of the cowardly and sincorrupted flesh: and, praying God timidly to forgive
him his weakness, he crawled up on to the bed and, wrapping the blankets closely about him,
covered his face again with his hands. He had sinned. He had sinned so deeply against heaven
and before God that he was not worthy to be called God’s child.
Could it be that he, Stephen Dedalus, had done those things? His conscience sighed in
answer. Yes, he had done them, secretly, filthily, time after time, and, hardened in sinful
impenitence, he had dared to wear the mask of holiness before the tabernacle itself while his
soul within was a living mass of corruption. How came it that God had not struck him dead?
The leprous company of his sins closed about him, breathing upon him, bending over him
from all sides. He strove to forget them in an act of prayer, huddling his limbs closer together
and binding down his eyelids: but the senses of his soul would not be bound and, though his
eyes were shut fast, he saw the places where he had sinned and, though his ears were tightly
covered, he heard. He desired with all his will not to hear or see. He desired till his frame shook
under the strain of his desire and until the senses of his soul closed. They closed for an instant
and then opened. He saw.
A field of stiff weeds and thistles and tufted nettle-bunches. Thick among the tufts of rank
stiff growth lay battered canisters and clots and coils of solid excrement. A faint marshlight
struggled upwards from all the ordure through the bristling greygreen weeds. An evil smell,
faint and foul as the light, curled upwards sluggishly out of the canisters and from the stale
crusted dung.
Creatures were in the field; one, three, six: creatures were moving in the field, hither and
thither. Goatish creatures with human faces, hornybrowed, lightly bearded and grey as
indiarubber. The malice of evil glittered in their hard eyes, as they moved hither and thither,
trailing their long tails behind them. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony
faces. One was clasping about his ribs a torn flannel waistcoat, another complained
monotonously as his beard stuck in the tufted weeds. Soft language issued from their
spittleless lips as they swished in slow circles round and round the field, winding hither and
thither through the weeds, dragging their long tails amid the rattling canisters. They moved in
slow circles, circling closer and closer to enclose, to enclose, soft language issuing from their
lips, their long swishing tails besmeared with stale shite, thrusting upwards their terriffic faces

Help!
He flung the blankets from him madly to free his face and neck. That was his hell. God had
allowed him to see the hell reserved for his sins: stinking, bestial, malignant, a hell of
lecherous goatish fiends. For him! For him!
He sprang from the bed, the reeking odour pouring down his throat, clogging and revolting
his entrails. Air! The air of heaven! He stumbled towards the window, groaning and almostfainting with sickness. At the washstand a convulsion seized him within; and, clasping his
cold forehead wildly, he vomited profusely in agony.
When the fit had spent itself he walked weakly to the window and, lifting the sash, sat in a
corner of the embrasure and leaned his elbow upon the sill. The rain had drawn off; and amid
the moving vapours from point to point of light the city was spinning about herself a soft
cocoon of yellowish haze. Heaven was still and faintly luminous and the air sweet to breathe,
as in a thicket drenched with showers: and amid peace and shimmering lights and quiet
fragrance he made a covenant with his heart.
He prayed:
—He once had meant to come on earth in heavenly glory but we sinned: and then He could
not safely visit us but with a shrouded majesty and a bedimmed radiance for He was God. So He
came Himself in weakness not in power and He sent thee, a creature in His stead, with a
creature’s comeliness and lustre suited to our state. And now thy very face and form, dear
mother, speak to us of the Eternal; not like earthly beauty, dangerous to look upon, but like the
morning star which is thy emblem, bright and musical, breathing purity, telling of heaven and
infusing peace. O harbinger of day! O light of the pilgrim! Lead us still as thou hast led. In the
dark night, across the bleak wilderness guide us on to our Lord Jesus, guide us home.
His eyes were dimmed with tears and, looking humbly up to heaven, he wept for the
innocence he had lost.
When evening had fallen he left the house and the first touch of the damp dark air and the
noise of the door as it closed behind him made ache again his conscience, lulled by prayer
and tears. Confess! Confess! It was not enough to lull the conscience with a tear and a prayer.
He had to kneel before the minister of the Holy Ghost and tell over his hidden sins truly and
repentantly. Before he heard again the footboard of the housedoor trail over the threshold as
it opened to let him in, before he saw again the table in the kitchen set for supper he would
have knelt and confessed. It was quite simple.
The ache of conscience ceased and he walked onward swiftly through the dark streets.
There were so many flagstones on the footpath of that street and so many streets in that city
and so many cities in the world. Yet eternity had no end. He was in mortal sin. Even once was a
mortal sin. It could happen in an instant. But how so quickly? By seeing or by thinking of
seeing. The eyes see the thing, without having wished first to see. Then in an instant it
happens. But does that part of the body understand or what? The serpent, the most subtle
beast of the field. It must understand when it desires in one instant and then prolongs its own
desire instant after instant, sinfully. It feels and understands and desires. What a horrible
thing! Who made it to be like that, a bestial part of the body able to understand bestially and
desire bestially? Was that then he or an inhuman thing moved by a lower soul than his soul?
His soul sickened at the thought of a torpid snaky life feeding itself out of the tender marrow
of his life and fattening upon the slime of lust. O why was that so? O why?
He cowered in the shadow of the thought, abasing himself in the awe of God Who had
made all things and all men. Madness. Who could think such a thought? And, cowering in
darkness and abject, he prayed mutely to his angel guardian to drive away with his sword the
demon that was whispering to his brain.
The whisper ceased and he knew then clearly that his own soul had sinned in thought and
word and deed wilfully through his own body. Confess! He had to confess every sin. How could
he utter in words to the priest what he had done? Must, must. Or how could he explain
without dying of shame? Or how could he have done such things without shame? A madman,
a loathsome madman! Confess! O he would indeed to be free and sinless again! Perhaps the
priest would know. O dear God!
He walked on and on through illlit streets, fearing to stand still for a moment lest it might
seem that he held back from what awaited him, fearing to arrive at that towards which he still
turned with longing. How beautiful must be a soul in the state of grace when God looked upon
it with love!
Frowsy girls sat along the curbstones before their baskets. Their dank hair hung trailed overtheir brows. They were not beautiful to see as they crouched in the mire. But their souls were
seen by God; and if their souls were in a state of grace they were radiant to see: and God loved
them, seeing them.
A wasting breath of humiliation blew bleakly over his soul to think of how he had fallen, to
feel that those souls were dearer to God than his. The wind blew over him and passed on to
the myriads and myriads of other souls on whom God’s favour shone now more and now less,
stars now brighter and now dimmer, sustained and failing. And the glimmering souls passed
away, sustained and failing, merged in a moving breath. One soul was lost; a tiny soul: his. It
flickered once and went out, forgotten, lost. The end: black cold void waste.
Consciousness of place came ebbing back to him slowly over a vast tract of time unlit,
unfelt, unlived. The squalid scene composed itself around him; the common accents, the
burning gasjets in the shops, odours of fish and spirits and wet sawdust, moving men and
women. An old woman was about to cross the street, an oilcan in her hand. He bent down and
asked her was there a chapel near.
—A chapel, sir? Yes, sir. Church Street chapel.
—Church?
She shifted the can to her other hand and directed him: and, as she held out her reeking
withered right hand under its fringe of shawl, he bent lower towards her, saddened and
soothed by her voice.
—Thank you.
—You are quite welcome, sir.
The candles on the high altar had been extinguished but the fragrance of incense still
floated down the dim nave. Bearded workmen with pious faces were guiding a canopy out
through a sidedoor, the sacristan aiding them with quiet gestures and words. A few of the
faithful still lingered, praying before one of the sidealtars or kneeling in the benches near the
confessionals. He approached timidly and knelt at the last bench in the body, thankful for the
peace and silence and fragrant shadow of the church. The board on which he knelt was
narrow and worn and those who knelt near him were humble followers of Jesus. Jesus too had
been born in poverty and had worked in the shop of a carpenter, cutting boards and planing
them, and had first spoken of the kingdom of God to poor fishermen, teaching all men to be
meek and humble of heart.
He bowed his head upon his hands, bidding his heart be meek and humble that he might
be like those who knelt beside him and his prayer as acceptable as theirs. He prayed beside
them but it was hard. His soul was foul with sin and he dared not ask forgiveness with the
simple trust of those whom Jesus, in the mysterious ways of God, had called first to His side,
the carpenters, the fishermen, poor and simple people following a lowly trade, handling and
shaping the wood of trees, mending their nets with patience.
A tall figure came down the aisle and the penitents stirred: and at the last moment, glancing
up swiftly, he saw a long grey beard and the brown habit of a capuchin. The priest entered the
box and was hidden. Two penitents rose and entered the confessional at either side. The
wooden slide was drawn back and the faint murmur of a voice troubled the silence.
His blood began to murmur in his veins, murmuring like a sinful city summoned from its
sleep to hear its doom. Little flakes of fire fell and powdery ashes fell softly, alighting on the
houses of men. They stirred, waking from sleep, troubled by the heated air.
The slide was shot back. The penitent emerged from the side of the box. The farther slide
was drawn. A woman entered quietly and deftly where the first penitent had knelt. The faint
murmur began again.
He could still leave the chapel. He could stand up, put one foot before the other and walk
out softly and then run, run, run swiftly through the dark streets. He could still escape from
the shame. Had it been any terrible crime but that one sin! Had it been murder! Little fiery
flakes fell and touched him at all points, shameful thoughts, shameful words, shameful acts.
Shame covered him wholly like fine glowing ashes falling continually. To say it in words! His
soul, stifling and helpless, would cease to be.The slide was shot back. A penitent emerged from the farther side of the box. The near slide
was drawn. A penitent entered where the other penitent had come out. A soft whispering
noise floated in vaporous cloudlets out of the box. It was the woman: soft whispering
cloudlets, soft whispering vapour, whispering and vanishing.
He beat his breast with his fist humbly, secretly under cover of the wooden armrest. He
would be at one with others and with God. He would love his neighbour. He would love God
Who had made and loved him. He would kneel and pray with others and be happy. God would
look down on him and on them and would love them all.
It was easy to be good. God’s yoke was sweet and light. It was better never to have sinned, to
have remained always a child, for God loved little children and suffered them to come to Him.
It was a terrible and a sad thing to sin. But God was merciful to poor sinners who were truly
sorry. How true that was! That was indeed goodness.
The slide was shot to suddenly. The penitent came out. He was next. He stood up in terror
and walked blindly into the box.
At last it had come. He knelt in the silent gloom and raised his eyes to the white crucifix
suspended above him. God could see that he was sorry. He would tell all his sins. His
confession would be long, long. Everybody in the chapel would know then what a sinner he
had been. Let them know. It was true. But God had promised to forgive him if he was sorry. He
was sorry. He clasped his hands and raised them towards the white form, praying with his
darkened eyes, praying with all his trembling body, swaying his head to and fro like a lost
creature, praying with whimpering lips.
—Sorry! Sorry! O sorry!
The slide clicked back and his heart bounded in his breast. The face of an old priest was at
the grating, averted from him, leaning upon a hand. He made the sign of the cross and prayed
of the priest to bless him for he had sinned. Then, bowing his head, he repeated the Confiteor
in fright. At the words my most grievous fault he ceased, breathless.
—How long is it since your last confession, my child?
—A long time, father.
—A month, my child?
—Longer, father.
—Three months, my child?
—Longer, father.
—Six months?
—Eight months, father.
He had begun. The priest asked:
—And what do you remember since that time?
He began to confess his sins: masses missed, prayers not said, lies.
—Anything else, my child?
Sins of anger, envy of others, gluttony, vanity, disobedience.
—Anything else, my child?
—Sloth.
—Anything else, my child?
There was no help. He murmured:
—I … committed sins of impurity, father.
The priest did not turn his head.
—With yourself, my child?
—And … with others.
—With women, my child?
—Yes, father.
—Were they married women, my child?
He did not know. His sins trickled from his lips, one by one, trickled in shameful drops from
his soul festering and oozing like a sore, a squalid stream of vice. The last sins oozed forth,
sluggish, filthy. There was no more to tell. He bowed his head, overcome.The priest was silent. Then he asked:
—How old are you, my child?
—Sixteen, father.
The priest passed his hand several times over his face. Then, resting his forehead against
his hand, he leaned towards the grating and, with eyes still averted, spoke slowly. His voice was
weary and old.
—You are very young, my child, he said, and let me implore of you to give up that sin. It is a
terrible sin. It kills the body and it kills the soul. It is the cause of many crimes and
misfortunes. Give it up, my child, for God’s sake. It is dishonourable and unmanly. You
cannot know where that wretched habit will lead you or where it will come against you. As
long as you commit that sin, my poor child, you will never be worth one farthing to God. Pray
to our mother Mary to help you. She will help you, my child. Pray to Our Blessed Lady when
that sin comes into your mind. I am sure you will do that, will you not? You repent of all those
sins. I am sure you do. And you will promise God now that by His holy grace you will never
offend Him any more by that wicked sin. You will make that solemn promise to God, will you
not?
—Yes, father.
The old and weary voice fell like sweet rain upon his quaking parching heart. How sweet
and sad!
—Do so, my poor child. The devil has led you astray. Drive him back to hell when he tempts
you to dishonour your body in that way—the foul spirit who hates Our Lord. Promise God now
that you will give up that sin, that wretched wretched sin.
Blinded by his tears and by the light of God’s mercifulness he bent his head and heard the
grave words of absolution spoken and saw the priest’s hand raised above him in token of
forgiveness.
—God bless you, my child. Pray for me.
He knelt to say his penance, praying in a corner of the dark nave: and his prayers ascended
to heaven from his purified heart like perfume streaming upwards from a heart of white rose.
The muddy streets were gay. He strode homeward, conscious of an invisible grace pervading
and making light his limbs. In spite of all he had done it. He had confessed and God had
pardoned him. His soul was made fair and holy once more, holy and happy.
It would be beautiful to die if God so willed. It was beautiful to live if God so willed, to live in
grace a life of peace and virtue and forbearance with others.
He sat by the fire in the kitchen, not daring to speak for happiness. Till that moment he had
not known how beautiful and peaceful life could be. The green square of paper pinned round
the lamp cast down a tender shade. On the dresser was a plate of sausages and white pudding
and on the shelf there were eggs. They would be for the breakfast in the morning after the
communion in the college chapel. White pudding and eggs and sausages and cups of tea.
How simple and beautiful was life after all! And life lay all before him.
In a dream he fell asleep. In a dream he rose and saw that it was morning. In a waking
dream he went through the quiet morning towards the college.
The boys were all there, kneeling in their places. He knelt among them, happy and shy. The
altar was heaped with fragrant masses of white flowers: and in the morning light the pale
flames of the candles among the white flowers were clear and silent as his own soul.
He knelt before the altar with his classmates, holding the altar cloth with them over a living
rail of hands. His hands were trembling, and his soul trembled as he heard the priest pass
with the ciborium from communicant to communicant.
—Corpus Domini nostri.
Could it be? He knelt there sinless and timid: and he would hold upon his tongue the host
and God would enter his purified body.
—In vitam eternam. Amen.
Another life! A life of grace and virtue and happiness! It was true. It was not a dream from
which he would wake. The past was past.—Corpus Domini nostri.
The ciborium had come to him.
® IV
S u n d a y was dedicated to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, Monday to the Holy Ghost, Tuesday
to the Guardian Angels, Wednesday to Saint Joseph, Thursday to the Most Blessed Sacrament
of the Altar, Friday to the Suffering Jesus, Saturday to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Every morning he hallowed himself anew in the presence of some holy image or mystery.
His day began with an heroic offering of its every moment of thought or action for the
intentions of the sovereign pontiff and with an early mass. The raw morning air whetted his
resolute piety; and often as he knelt among the few worshippers at the sidealtar, following
with his interleaved prayerbook the murmur of the priest, he glanced up for an instant
towards the vested figure standing in the gloom between the two candles which were the old
and the new testaments and imagined that he was kneeling at mass in the catacombs.
His daily life was laid out in devotional areas. By means of ejaculations and prayers he
stored up ungrudgingly for the souls in purgatory centuries of days and quarantines and
years; yet the spiritual triumph which he felt in achieving with ease so many fabulous ages of
canonical penances did not wholly reward his zeal of prayer since he could never know how
much temporal punishment he had remitted by way of suffrage for the agonising souls: and,
fearful lest in the midst of the purgatorial fire, which differed from the infernal only in that it
was not everlasting, his penance might avail no more than a drop of moisture, he drove his
soul daily through an increasing circle of works of supererogation.
Every part of his day, divided by what he regarded now as the duties of his station in life,
circled about its own centre of spiritual energy. His life seemed to have drawn near to eternity;
every thought, word and deed, every instance of consciousness could be made to revibrate
radiantly in heaven: and at times his sense of such immediate repercussion was so lively that
he seemed to feel his soul in devotion pressing like fingers the keyboard of a great cash
register and to see the amount of his purchase start forth immediately in heaven, not as a
number but as a frail column of incense or as a slender flower.
The rosaries too which he said constantly—for he carried his beads loose in his trousers’
pockets that he might tell them as he walked the streets—transformed themselves into
coronals of flowers of such vague unearthly texture that they seemed to him as hueless and
odourless as they were nameless. He offered up each of his three daily chaplets that his soul
might grow strong in each of the three theological virtues, in faith in the Father, Who had
created him, in hope in the Son Who had redeemed him, and in love of the Holy Ghost Who
had sanctified him, and this thrice triple prayer he offered to the Three persons through Mary
in the name of her joyful and sorrowful and glorious mysteries.
On each of the seven days of the week he further prayed that one of the seven gifts of the
Holy Ghost might descend upon his soul and drive out of it day by day the seven deadly sins
which had defiled it in the past; and he prayed for each gift on its appointed day, confident
that it would descend upon him, though it seemed strange to him at times that wisdom and
understanding and knowledge were so distinct in their nature that each should be prayed for
apart from the others. Yet he believed that at some future stage of his spiritual progress this
difficulty would be removed when his sinful soul had been raised up from its weakness and
enlightened by the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. He believed this all the more, and
with trepidation, because of the divine gloom and silence wherein dwelt the unseen Paraclete,
Whose symbols were a dove and a mighty wind, to sin against Whom was a sin beyond
forgiveness, the eternal, mysterious secret Being to Whom, as God, the priests offered up mass
once a year, robed in the scarlet of the tongues of fire.
The imagery through which the nature and kinship of the Three Persons of the Trinity were
darkly shadowed forth in the books of devotion which he read—the Father contemplatingfrom all eternity as in a mirror His Divine Perfections and thereby begetting eternally the
Eternal Son and the Holy Spirit proceeding out of Father and Son from all eternity—were
easier of acceptance by his mind by reason of their august incomprehensibility than was the
simple fact that God had loved his soul from all eternity, for ages before he had been born into
the world, for ages before the world itself had existed.
He had heard the names of the passions of love and hate pronounced solemnly on the stage
and in the pulpit, had found them set forth solemnly in books, and had wondered why his
soul was unable to harbour them for any time or to force his lips to utter their names with
conviction. A brief anger had often invested him but he had never been able to make it an
abiding passion and had always felt himself passing out of it as if his very body were being
divested with ease of some outer skin or peel. He had felt a subtle, dark and murmurous
presence penetrate his being and fire him with a brief iniquitous lust: it too had slipped
beyond his grasp leaving his mind lucid and indifferent. This, it seemed, was the only love and
that the only hate his soul would harbour.
But he could no longer disbelieve in the reality of love since God Himself had loved his
individual soul with divine love from all eternity. Gradually, as his soul was enriched with
spiritual knowledge, he saw the whole world forming one vast symmetrical expression of
God’s power and love. Life became a divine gift for every moment and sensation of which,
were it even the sight of a single leaf hanging on the twig of a tree, his soul should praise and
thank the Giver. The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his
soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality. So entire and
unquestionable was this sense of the divine meaning in all nature granted to his soul that he
could scarcely understand why it was in any way necessary that he should continue to live. Yet
that was part of the divine purpose and he dared not question its use, he above all others who
had sinned so deeply and so foully against the divine purpose. Meek and abased by this
consciousness of the one eternal omnipresent perfect reality his soul took up again her
burden of pieties, masses and prayers and sacraments and mortifications, and only then for
the first time since he had brooded on the great mystery of love did he feel within him a warm
movement like that of some newly born life or virtue of the soul itself. The attitude of rapture
in sacred art, the raised and parted hands, the parted lips and eyes as of one about to swoon,
became for him an image of the soul in prayer, humiliated and faint before her Creator.
But he had been forewarned of the dangers of spiritual exaltation and did not allow himself
to desist from even the least or lowliest devotion, striving also by constant mortification to
undo the sinful past rather than to achieve a saintliness fraught with peril. Each of his senses
was brought under a rigorous discipline. In order to mortify the sense of sight he made it his
rule to walk in the street with downcast eyes, glancing neither to right nor left and never
behind him. His eyes shunned every encounter with the eyes of women. From time to time
also he balked them by a sudden effort of the will, as by lifting them suddenly in the middle of
an unfinished sentence and closing the book. To mortify his hearing he exerted no control
over his voice which was then breaking, neither sang nor whistled and made no attempt to
flee from noises which caused him painful nervous irritation such as the sharpening of knives
on the knifeboard, the gathering of cinders on the fireshovel and the twigging of the carpet.
To mortify his smell was more difficult as he found in himself no instinctive repugnance to
bad odours, whether they were the odours of the outdoor world such as those of dung and tar
or the odours of his own person among which he had made many curious comparisons and
experiments. He found in the end that the only odour against which his sense of smell
revolted was a certain stale fishy stink like that of longstanding urine: and whenever it was
possible he subjected himself to this unpleasant odour. To mortify the taste he practised strict
habits at table, observed to the letter all the fasts of the church and sought by distraction to
divert his mind from the savours of different foods. But it was to the mortification of touch
that he brought the most assiduous ingenuity of inventiveness. He never consciously changed
his position in bed, sat in the most uncomfortable positions, suffered patiently every itch and
pain, kept away from the fire, remained on his knees all through the mass except at thegospels, left parts of his neck and face undried so that air might sting them and, whenever he
was not saying his beads, carried his arms stiffly at his sides like a runner and never in his
pockets or clasped behind him.
He had no temptations to sin mortally. It surprised him however to find that at the end of
his course of intricate piety and selfrestraint he was so easily at the mercy of childish and
unworthy imperfections. His prayers and fasts availed him little for the suppression of anger
at hearing his mother sneeze or at being disturbed in his devotions. It needed an immense
effort of his will to master the impulse which urged him to give outlet to such irritation.
Images of the outbursts of trivial anger which he had often noted among his masters, their
twitching mouths, closeshut lips and flushed cheeks, recurred to his memory, discouraging
him, for all his practice of humility, by the comparison. To merge his life in the common tide
of other lives was harder for him than any fasting or prayer, and it was his constant failure to
do this to his own satisfaction which caused in his soul at last a sensation of spiritual dryness
together with a growth of doubts and scruples. His soul traversed a period of desolation in
which the sacraments themselves seemed to have turned into dried up sources. His
confession became a channel for the escape of scrupulous and unrepented imperfections. His
actual reception of the eucharist did not bring him the same dissolving moments of virginal
selfsurrender as did those spiritual communions made by him sometimes at the close of some
visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The book which he used for these visits was an old neglected
book written by saint Alphonsus Liguori, with fading characters and sere foxpapered leaves. A
faded world of fervent love and virginal responses seemed to be evoked for his soul by the
reading of its pages in which the imagery of the canticles was interwoven with the
communicant’s prayers. An inaudible voice seemed to caress the soul, telling her names and
glories, bidding her arise as for espousal and come away, bidding her look forth, a spouse,
from Amana and from the mountains of the leopards; and the soul seemed to answer with the
same inaudible voice, surrendering herself: Inter ubera mea commorabitur.
This idea of surrender had a perilous attraction for his mind now that he felt his soul beset
once again by the insistent voices of the flesh which began to murmur to him again during his
prayers and meditations. It gave him an intense sense of power to know that he could by a
single act of consent, in a moment of thought, undo all that he had done. He seemed to feel a
flood slowly advancing towards his naked feet and to be waiting for the first faint timid
noiseless wavelet to touch his fevered skin. Then, almost at the instant of that touch, almost at
the verge of sinful consent, he found himself standing far away from the flood upon a dry
shore, saved by a sudden act of the will or a sudden ejaculation: and, seeing the silver line of
the flood far away and beginning again its slow advance towards his feet, a new thrill of power
and satisfaction shook his soul to know that he had not yielded nor undone all.
When he had eluded the flood of temptation many times in this way he grew troubled and
wondered whether the grace which he had refused to lose was not being filched from him
little by little. The clear certitude of his own immunity grew dim and to it succeeded a vague
fear that his soul had really fallen unawares. It was with difficulty that he won back his old
consciousness of his state of grace by telling himself that he had prayed to God at every
temptation and that the grace which he had prayed for must have been given to him
inasmuch as God was obliged to give it. The very frequency and violence of temptations
showed him at last the truth of what he had heard about the trials of the saints. Frequent and
violent temptations were a proof that the citadel of the soul had not fallen and that the devil
raged to make it fall.
Often when he had confessed his doubts and scruples, some momentary inattention at
prayer, a movement of trivial anger in his soul or a subtle wilfulness in speech or act, he was
bidden by his confessor to name some sin of his past life before absolution was given him. He
named it with humility and shame and repented of it once more. It humiliated and shamed
him to think that he would never be freed from it wholly, however holily he might live or
whatever virtues or perfections he might attain. A restless feeling of guilt would always be
present with him: he would confess and repent and be absolved, confess and repent again andbe absolved again, fruitlessly. Perhaps that first hasty confession wrung from him by the fear
of hell had not been good? Perhaps, concerned only for his imminent doom, he had not had
sincere sorrow for his sin? But the surest sign that his confession had been good and that he
had had sincere sorrow for his sin was, he knew, the amendment of his life.
—I have amended my life, have I not? he asked himself.
* * *
The director stood in the embrasure of the window, his back to the light, leaning an elbow
on the brown crossblind and, as he spoke and smiled, slowly dangling and looping the cord of
the other blind. Stephen stood before him, following for a moment with his eyes the waning
of the long summer daylight above the roofs or the slow deft movements of the priestly
fingers. The priest’s face was in total shadow but the waning daylight from behind him
touched the deeply grooved temples and the curves of the skull. Stephen followed also with his
ears the accents and intervals of the priest’s voice as he spoke gravely and cordially of
indifferent themes, the vacation which had just ended, the colleges of the order abroad, the
transference of masters. The grave and cordial voice went on easily with its tale, and in the
pauses Stephen felt bound to set it on again with respectful questions. He knew that the tale
was a prelude and his mind waited for the sequel. Ever since the message of summons had
come for him from the director his mind had struggled to find the meaning of the message;
and during the long restless time he had sat in the college parlour waiting for the director to
come in his eyes had wandered from one sober picture to another around the walls and his
mind wandered from one guess to another until the meaning of the summons had almost
become clear. Then, just as he was wishing that some unforeseen cause might prevent the
director from coming, he had heard the handle of the door turning and the swish of a
soutane.
The director had begun to speak of the dominican and franciscan orders and of the
friendship between saint Thomas and saint Bonaventure. The capuchin dress, he thought,
was rather too …
Stephen’s face gave back the priest’s indulgent smile and, not being anxious to give an
opinion, he made a slight dubitative movement with his lips.
—I believe, continued the director, that there is some talk now among the capuchins
themselves of doing away with it and following the example of the other franciscans.
—I suppose they would retain it in the cloister, said Stephen.
—O, certainly, said the director. For the cloister it is all right but for the street I really think it
would be better to do away with, don’t you?
—It must be troublesome, I imagine?
—Of course it is, of course. Just imagine when I was in Belgium I used to see them out
cycling in all kinds of weather with this thing up about their knees! It was really ridiculous. Les
jupes, they call them in Belgium.
The vowel was so modified as to be indistinct.
—What do they call them?
—Les jupes.
—O.
Stephen smiled again in answer to the smile which he could not see on the priest’s
shadowed face, its image or spectre only passing rapidly across his mind as the low discreet
accent fell upon his ear. He gazed calmly before him at the waning sky, glad of the cool of the
evening and the faint yellow glow which hid the tiny flame kindling upon his cheek.
The names of articles of dress worn by women or of certain soft and delicate stuffs used in
their making brought always to his mind a delicate and sinful perfume. As a boy he had
imagined the reins by which horses are driven as slender silken bands and it shocked him to
feel at Stradbrook the greasy leather of harness. It had shocked him too when he had felt for
the first time beneath his tremulous fingers the brittle texture of a woman’s stocking for,
retaining nothing of all he read save that which seemed to him an echo or a prophecy of his
own state, it was only amid softworded phrases or within rosesoft stuffs that he dared toconceive of the soul or body of a woman moving with tender life.
But the phrase on the priest’s lips was disingenuous for he knew that a priest should not
speak lightly on that theme. The phrase had been spoken lightly with design and he felt that
his face was being searched by the eyes in the shadow. Whatever he had heard or read of the
craft of jesuits he had put aside frankly as not borne out by his own experience. His masters,
even when they had not attracted him, had seemed to him always intelligent and serious
priests, athletic and highspirited prefects. He thought of them as men who washed their
bodies briskly with cold water and wore clean cold linen. During all the years he had lived
among them in Clongowes and in Belvedere he had received only two pandies and, though
these had been dealt him in the wrong, he knew that he had often escaped punishment.
During all those years he had never heard from any of his masters a flippant word: it was they
who had taught him christian doctrine and urged him to live a good life and, when he had
fallen into grievous sin, it was they who had led him back to grace. Their presence had made
him diffident of himself when he was a muff in Clongowes and it had made him diffident of
himself also while he had held his equivocal position in Belvedere. A constant sense of this
had remained with him up to the last year of his school life. He had never once disobeyed or
allowed turbulent companions to seduce him from his habit of quiet obedience: and, even
when he doubted some statement of a master, he had never presumed to doubt openly. Lately
some of their judgments had sounded a little childish in his ears and had made him feel a
regret and pity as though he were slowly passing out of an accustomed world and were
hearing its language for the last time. One day when some boys had gathered round a priest
under the shed near the chapel, he had heard the priest say:
—I believe that Lord Macaulay was a man who probably never committed a mortal sin in
his life, that is to say, a deliberate mortal sin.
Some of the boys had then asked the priest if Victor Hugo were not the greatest French
writer. The priest had answered that Victor Hugo had never written half so well when he had
turned against the church as he had written when he was a catholic.
—But there are many eminent French critics, said the priest, who consider that even Victor
Hugo, great as he certainly was, had not so pure a French style as Louis Veuillot.
The tiny flame which the priest’s allusion had kindled upon Stephen’s cheek had sunk
down again and his eyes were still fixed calmly on the colorless sky. But an unresting doubt
flew hither and thither before his mind. Masked memories passed quickly before him: he
recognised scenes and persons yet he was conscious that he had failed to perceive some vital
circumstance in them. He saw himself walking about the grounds watching the sports in
Clongowes and eating slim jim out of his cricketcap. Some jesuits were walking round the
cycletrack in the company of ladies. The echoes of certain expressions used in Clongowes
sounded in remote caves of his mind.
His ears were listening to these distant echoes amid the silence of the parlour when he
became aware that the priest was addressing him in a different voice.
—I sent for you today, Stephen, because I wished to speak to you on a very important
subject.
—Yes, sir.
—Have you ever felt that you had a vocation?
Stephen parted his lips to answer yes and then withheld the word suddenly. The priest
waited for the answer and added:
—I mean have you ever felt within yourself, in your soul, a desire to join the order. Think.
—I have sometimes thought of it, said Stephen.
The priest let the blindcord fall to one side and, uniting his hands, leaned his chin gravely
upon them, communing with himself.
—In a college like this, he said at length, there is one boy or perhaps two or three boys
whom God calls to the religious life. Such a boy is marked off from his companions by his
piety, by the good example he shows to others. He is looked up to by them; he is chosen
perhaps as prefect by his fellow sodalists. And you, Stephen, have been such a boy in thiscollege, prefect of Our Blessed Lady’s sodality. Perhaps you are the boy in this college whom
God designs to call to Himself.
A strong note of pride reinforcing the gravity of the priest’s voice made Stephen’s heart
quicken in response.
—To receive that call, Stephen, said the priest, is the greatest honour that the Almighty God
can bestow upon a man. No king or emperor on this earth has the power of the priest of God.
No angel or archangel in heaven, no saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself has the power of
a priest of God: the power of the keys, the power to bind and to loose from sin, the power of
exorcism, the power to cast out from the creatures of God the evil spirits that have power over
them, the power, the authority, to make the great God of Heaven come down upon the altar
and take the form of bread and wine. What an awful power, Stephen!
A flame began to flutter again on Stephen’s cheek as he heard in this proud address an echo
of his own proud musings. How often had he seen himself as a priest wielding calmly and
humbly the awful power of which angels and saints stood in reverence! His soul had loved to
muse in secret on this desire. He had seen himself, a young and silentmannered priest,
entering a confessional swiftly, ascending the altarsteps, incensing, genuflecting,
accomplishing the vague acts of the priesthood which pleased him by reason of their
semblance of reality and of their distance from it. In that dim life which he had lived through
in his musings he had assumed the voices and gestures which he had noted with various
priests. He had bent his knee sideways like such a one, he had shaken the thurible only slightly
like such a one, his chasuble had swung open like that of such another as he had turned to the
altar again after having blessed the people. And above all it had pleased him to fill the second
place in those dim scenes of his imagining. He shrank from the dignity of celebrant because it
displeased him to imagine that all the vague pomp should end in his own person or that the
ritual should assign to him so clear and final an office. He longed for the minor sacred offices,
to be vested with the tunicle of subdeacon at high mass, to stand aloof from the altar,
forgotten by the people, his shoulders covered with a humeral veil, holding the paten within
its folds, or, when the sacrifice had been accomplished, to stand as deacon in a dalmatic of
cloth of gold on the step below the celebrant, his hands joined and his face towards the
people, and sing the chant Ite, missa est. If ever he had seen himself celebrant it was as in the
pictures of the mass in his child’s massbook, in a church without worshippers, save for the
angel of the sacrifice, at a bare altar and served by an acolyte scarcely more boyish than
himself. In vague sacrificial or sacramental acts alone his will seemed drawn to go forth to
encounter reality: and it was partly the absence of an appointed rite which had always
constrained him to inaction whether he had allowed silence to cover his anger or pride or had
suffered only an embrace he longed to give.
He listened in reverent silence now to the priest’s appeal and through the words he heard
even more distinctly a voice bidding him approach, offering him secret knowledge and secret
power. He would know then what was the sin of Simon Magus and what the sin against the
Holy Ghost for which there was no forgiveness. He would know obscure things, hidden from
others, from those who were conceived and born children of wrath. He would know the sins,
the sinful longings and sinful thoughts and sinful acts, of others, hearing them murmured
into his ears in the confessional under the shame of a darkened chapel by the lips of women
and of girls: but rendered immune mysteriously at his ordination by the imposition of hands
his soul would pass again uncontaminated to the white peace of the altar. No touch of sin
would linger upon the hands with which he would elevate and break the host; no touch of sin
would linger on his lips in prayer to make him eat and drink damnation to himself, not
discerning the body of the Lord. He would hold his secret knowledge and secret power, being
as sinless as the innocent: and he would be a priest for ever according to the order of
Melchisedec.
—I will offer up my mass tomorrow morning, said the director, that Almighty God may
reveal to you His holy will. And let you, Stephen, make a novena to your holy patron saint, the
first martyr, who is very powerful with God, that God may enlighten your mind. But you mustbe quite sure, Stephen, that you have a vocation because it would be terrible if you found
afterwards that you had none. Once a priest always a priest, remember. Your catechism tells
you that the sacrament of Holy Orders is one of those which can be received only once
because it imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark which can never be effaced. It is
before you must weigh well, not after. It is a solemn question, Stephen, because on it may
depend the salvation of your eternal soul. But we will pray to God together.
He held open the heavy hall door and gave his hand as if already to a companion in the
spiritual life. Stephen passed out on to the wide platform above the steps and was conscious
of the caress of mild evening air. Towards Findlater’s church a quartet of young men were
striding along with linked arms, swaying their heads and stepping to the agile melody of their
leader’s concertina. The music passed in an instant, as the first bars of sudden music always
did, over the fantastic fabrics of his mind, dissolving them painlessly and noiselessly as a
sudden wave dissolves the sandbuilt turrets of children. Smiling at the trivial air he raised his
eyes to the priest’s face and, seeing in it a mirthless reflection of the sunken day, detached his
hand slowly which had acquiesced faintly in that companionship.
As he descended the steps the impression which effaced his troubled selfcommunion was
that of a mirthless mask reflecting a sunken day from the threshold of the college. The
shadow, then, of the life of the college passed gravely over his consciousness. It was a grave
and ordered and passionless life that awaited him, a life without material cares. He wondered
how he would pass the first night in the novitiate and with what dismay he would wake the
first morning in the dormitory. The troubling odour of the long corridors of Clongowes came
back to him and he heard the discreet murmur of the burning gasflames. At once from every
part of his being unrest began to irradiate. A feverish quickening of his pulses followed and a
din of meaningless words drove his reasoned thoughts hither and thither confusedly. His
lungs dilated and sank as if he were inhaling a warm moist unsustaining air and he smelt
again the warm moist air which hung in the bath in Clongowes above the sluggish
turfcoloured water.
Some instinct, waking at these memories, stronger than education or piety, quickened
within him at every near approach to that life, an instinct subtle and hostile, and armed him
against acquiescence. The chill and order of the life repelled him. He saw himself rising in the
cold of the morning and filing down with the others to early mass and trying vainly to struggle
with his prayers against the fainting sickness of his stomach. He saw himself sitting at dinner
with the community of a college. What, then, had become of that deeprooted shyness of his
which had made him loth to eat or drink under a strange roof? What had come of the pride of
his spirit which had always made him conceive himself as a being apart in every order?
The Reverend Stephen Dedalus, S. J.
His name in that new life leaped into characters before his eyes and to it there followed a
mental sensation of an undefined face or colour of a face. The colour faded and became
strong like a changing glow of pallid brick red. Was it the raw reddish glow he had so often
seen on wintry mornings on the shaven gills of the priests? The face was eyeless and
sourfavoured and devout, shot with pink tinges of suffocated anger. Was it not a mental
spectre of the face of one of the jesuits whom some of the boys called Lantern Jaws and others
Foxy Campbell?
He was passing at that moment before the jesuit house in Gardiner Street, and wondered
vaguely which window would be his if he ever joined the order. Then he wondered at the
vagueness of his wonder, at the remoteness of his soul from what he had hitherto imagined
her sanctuary, at the frail hold which so many years of order and obedience had of him when
once a definite and irrevocable act of his threatened to end for ever, in time and in eternity, his
freedom. The voice of the director urging upon him the proud claims of the church and the
mystery and power of the priestly office repeated itself idly in his memory. His soul was not
there to hear and greet it and he knew now that the exhortation he had listened to had already
fallen into an idle formal tale. He would never swing the thurible before the tabernacle as
priest. His destiny was to be elusive of social or religious orders. The wisdom of the priest’sappeal did not touch him to the quick. He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from
others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world.
The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not yet fallen but he
would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was too hard, too hard: and he felt the silent lapse
of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling but not yet fallen, still
unfallen but about to fall.
He crossed the bridge over the stream of the Tolka and turned his eyes coldly for an instant
towards the faded blue shrine of the Blessed Virgin which stood fowlwise on a pole in the
middle of a hamshaped encampment of poor cottages. Then, bending to the left, he followed
the lane which led up to his house. The faint sour stink of rotted cabbages came towards him
from the kitchengardens on the rising ground above the river. He smiled to think that it was
this disorder, the misrule and confusion of his father’s house and the stagnation of vegetable
life, which was to win the day in his soul. Then a short laugh broke from his lips as he thought
of that solitary farmhand in the kitchengardens behind their house whom they had
nicknamed the man with the hat. A second laugh, taking rise from the first after a pause,
broke from him involuntarily as he thought of how the man with the hat worked, considering
in turn the four points of the sky and then regretfully plunging his spade in the earth.
He pushed open the latchless door of the porch and passed through the naked hallway into
the kitchen. A group of his brothers and sisters was sitting round the table. Tea was nearly
over and only the last of the second watered tea remained in the bottoms of the small
glassjars and jampots which did service for teacups. Discarded crusts and lumps of sugared
bread, turned brown by the tea which had been poured over them, lay scattered on the table.
Little wells of tea lay here and there on the board and a knife with a broken ivory handle was
stuck through the pith of a ravaged turnover.
The sad quiet greyblue glow of the dying day came through the window and the open door,
covering over and allaying quietly a sudden instinct of remorse in Stephen’s heart. All that had
been denied them had been freely given to him, the eldest: but the quiet glow of evening
showed him in their faces no sign of rancour.
He sat near them at the table and asked where his father and mother were. One answered:
—Goneboro toboro lookboro atboro aboro houseboro.
Still another removal! A boy named Fallon in Belvedere had often asked him with a silly
laugh why they moved so often. A frown of scorn darkened quickly his forehead as he heard
again the silly laugh of the questioner.
He asked:
—Why are we on the move again, if it’s a fair question?
The same sister answered:
—Becauseboro theboro landboro lordboro willboro putboro usboro outboro.
The voice of his youngest brother from the farther side of the fireplace began to sing the air
Oft in the Stilly Night. One by one the others took up the air until a full choir of voices was
singing. They would sing so for hours, melody after melody, glee after glee, till the last pale
light died down on the horizon, till the first dark nightclouds came forth and night fell.
He waited for some moments, listening, before he too took up the air with them. He was
listening with pain of spirit to the overtone of weariness behind their frail fresh innocent
voices. Even before they set out on life’s journey they seemed weary already of the way.
He heard the choir of voices in the kitchen echoed and multiplied through an endless
reverberation of the choirs of endless generations of children: and heard in all the echoes an
echo also of the recurring note of weariness and pain. All seemed weary of life even before
entering upon it. And he remembered that Newman had heard this note also in the broken
lines of Virgil giving utterance, like the voice of Nature herself, to that pain and weariness yet hope
of better things which has been the experience of her children in every time.
* * *
He could wait no longer.
From the door of Byron’s publichouse to the gate of Clontarf Chapel, from the gate ofClontarf Chapel to the door of Byron’s publichouse and then back again to the chapel and
then back again to the publichouse he had paced slowly at first, planting his steps
scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the footpath, then timing their fall to the fall of
verses. A full hour had passed since his father had gone in with Dan Crosby, the tutor, to find
out for him something about the university. For a full hour he had paced up and down,
waiting: but he could wait no longer.
He set off abruptly for the Bull, walking rapidly lest his father’s shrill whistle might call him
back; and in a few moments he had rounded the curve at the police barrack and was safe.
Yes, his mother was hostile to the idea, as he had read from her listless silence. Yet her
mistrust pricked him more keenly than his father’s pride and he thought coldly how he had
watched the faith which was fading down in his soul aging and strengthening in her eyes. A
dim antagonism gathered force within him and darkened his mind as a cloud against her
disloyalty: and when it passed, cloudlike, leaving his mind serene and dutiful towards her
again, he was made aware dimly and without regret of a first noiseless sundering of their lives.
The university! So he had passed beyond the challenge of the sentries who had stood as
guardians of his boyhood and had sought to keep him among them that he might be subject
to them and serve their ends. Pride after satisfaction uplifted him like long slow waves. The
end he had been born to serve yet did not see had led him to escape by an unseen path: and
now it beckoned to him once more and a new adventure was about to be opened to him. It
seemed to him that he heard notes of fitful music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a
diminished fourth, upwards a tone and downwards a major third, like triplebranching flames
leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood. It was an elfin prelude, endless and
formless; and, as it grew wilder and faster, the flames leaping out of time, he seemed to hear
from under the boughs and grasses wild creatures racing, their feet pattering like rain upon
the leaves. Their feet passed in pattering tumult over his mind, the feet of hares and rabbits,
the feet of harts and hinds and antelopes, until he heard them no more and remembered only
a proud cadence from Newman: Whose feet are as the feet of harts and underneath the everlasting
arms.
The pride of that dim image brought back to his mind the dignity of the office he had
refused. All through his boyhood he had mused upon that which he had so often thought to
be his destiny and when the moment had come for him to obey the call he had turned aside,
obeying a wayward instinct. Now time lay between: the oils of ordination would never anoint
his body. He had refused. Why?
He turned seaward from the road at Dollymount and as he passed on to the thin wooden
bridge he felt the planks shaking with the tramp of heavily shod feet. A squad of christian
brothers was on its way back from the Bull and had begun to pass, two by two, across the
bridge. Soon the whole bridge was trembling and resounding. The uncouth faces passed him
two by two, stained yellow or red or livid by the sea, and as he strove to look at them with ease
and indifference, a faint stain of personal shame and commiseration rose to his own face.
Angry with himself he tried to hide his face from their eyes by gazing down sideways into the
shallow swirling water under the bridge but he still saw a reflection therein of their topheavy
silk hats, and humble tapelike collars and loosely hanging clerical clothes.
—Brother Hickey.
Brother Quaid.
Brother MacArdle.
Brother Keogh.
Their piety would be like their names, like their faces, like their clothes, and it was idle for
him to tell himself that their humble and contrite hearts, it might be, paid a far richer tribute
of devotion than his had ever been, a gift tenfold more acceptable than his elaborate
adoration. It was idle for him to move himself to be generous towards them, to tell himself
that if he ever came to their gates, stripped of his pride, beaten and in beggar’s weeds, that
they would be generous towards him, loving him as themselves. Idle and embittering, finally,
to argue, against his own dispassionate certitude, that the commandment of love bade us notto love our neighbour as ourselves with the same amount and intensity of love but to love him
as ourselves with the same kind of love.
He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself:
—A day of dappled seaborne clouds.
The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord. Words. Was it their colours?
He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple
orchards, azure of waves, the greyfringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was
the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words
better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he
was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world
through the prism of a language manycoloured and richly storied than from the
contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple
periodic prose?
He passed from the trembling bridge on to firm land again. At that instant, as it seemed to
him, the air was chilled and looking askance towards the water he saw a flying squall
darkening and crisping suddenly the tide. A faint click at his heart, a faint throb in his throat
told him once more of how his flesh dreaded the cold infrahuman odour of the sea: yet he did
not strike across the downs on his left but held straight on along the spine of rocks that
pointed against the river’s mouth.
A veiled sunlight lit up faintly the grey sheet of water where the river was embayed. In the
distance along the course of the slowflowing Liffey slender masts flecked the sky and, more
distant still, the dim fabric of the city lay prone in haze. Like a scene on some vague arras, old
as man’s weariness, the image of the seventh city of christendom was visible to him across the
timeless air, no older nor more weary nor less patient of subjection than in the days of the
thingmote.
Disheartened, he raised his eyes towards the slowdrifting clouds, dappled and seaborne.
They were voyaging across the deserts of the sky, a host of nomads on the march, voyaging
high over Ireland, westward bound. The Europe they had come from lay out there beyond the
Irish Sea, Europe of strange tongues and valleyed and woodbegirt and citadelled and of
entrenched and marshalled races. He heard a confused music within him as of memories and
names which he was almost conscious of but could not capture even for an instant; then the
music seemed to recede, to recede, to recede: and from each receding trail of nebulous music
there fell always one longdrawn calling note, piercing like a star the dusk of silence. Again!
Again! Again! A voice from beyond the world was calling.
—Hello, Stephanos!
—Here comes The Dedalus!
—Ao! … Eh, give it over, Dwyer, I’m telling you or I’ll give you a stuff in the kisser for
yourself…. Ao!
—Good man, Towser! Duck him!
—Come along, Dedalus! Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforos!
—Duck him! Guzzle him now, Towser!
—Help! Help! … Ao!
He recognised their speech collectively before he distinguished their faces. The mere sight
of that medley of wet nakedness chilled him to the bone. Their bodies, corpsewhite or
suffused with a pallid golden light or rawly tanned by the suns, gleamed with the wet of the
sea. Their divingstone, poised on its rude supports and rocking under their plunges, and the
roughhewn stones of the sloping breakwater over which they scrambled in their horseplay,
gleamed with cold wet lustre. The towels with which they smacked their bodies were heavy
with cold seawater: and drenched with cold brine was their matted hair.
He stood still in deference to their calls and parried their banter with easy words. How
characterless they looked: Shuley without his deep unbuttoned collar, Ennis without his
scarlet belt with the snaky clasp, and Connolly without his Norfolk coat with the flapless
sidepockets! It was a pain to see them and a swordlike pain to see the signs of adolescencethat made repellent their pitiable nakedness. Perhaps they had taken refuge in number and
noise from the secret dread in their souls. But he, apart from them and in silence,
remembered in what dread he stood of the mystery of his own body.
—Stephanos Dedalos! Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforos!
Their banter was not new to him and now it flattered his mild proud sovereignty. Now, as
never before, his strange name seemed to him a prophecy. So timeless seemed the grey warm
air, so fluid and impersonal his own mood, that all ages were as one to him. A moment before
the ghost of the ancient kingdom of the Danes had looked forth through the vesture of the
hazewrapped city. Now, at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of
dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air. What
did it mean? Was it a quaint device opening a page of some medieval book of prophecies and
symbols, a hawklike man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been
born to serve and had been following through the mists of childhood and boyhood, a symbol
of the artist forging anew in his workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a new
soaring impalpable imperishable being?
His heart trembled; his breath came faster and a wild spirit passed over his limbs as though
he were soaring sunward. His heart trembled in an ecstasy of fear and his soul was in flight.
His soul was soaring in an air beyond the world and the body he knew was purified in a breath
and delivered of incertitude and made radiant and commingled with the element of the spirit.
An ecstasy of flight made radiant his eyes and wild his breath and tremulous and wild and
radiant his windswept limbs.
—One! Two! … Look out!
—O, cripes, I’m drownded!
—One! Two! Three and away!
—Me next! Me next!
—One! … Uk!
—Stephaneforos!
His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry
piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross
voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale
service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him and the cry of triumph which
his lips withheld cleft his brain.
—Stephaneforos!
What were they now but cerements shaken from the body of death—the fear he had walked
in night and day, the incertitude that had ringed him round, the shame that had abased him
within and without—cerements, the linens of the grave?
His soul had arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her graveclothes. Yes! Yes! Yes! He
would create proudly out of the freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose
name he bore, a living thing, new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable, imperishable.
He started up nervously from the stoneblock for he could no longer quench the flame in his
blood. He felt his cheeks aflame and his throat throbbing with song. There was a lust of
wandering in his feet that burned to set out for the ends of the earth. On! On! his heart seemed
to cry. Evening would deepen above the sea, night fall upon the plains, dawn glimmer before
the wanderer and show him strange fields and hills and faces. Where?
He looked northward towards Howth. The sea had fallen below the line of seawrack on the
shallow side of the breakwater and already the tide was running out fast along the foreshore.
Already one long oval bank of sand lay warm and dry amid the wavelets. Here and there warm
isles of sand gleamed above the shallow tide, and about the isles and around the long bank
and amid the shallow currents of the beach were lightclad gayclad figures, wading and
delving.
In a few moments he was barefoot, his stockings folded in his pockets and his canvas shoes
dangling by their knotted laces over his shoulders: and, picking a pointed salteaten stick out
of the jetsam among the rocks, he clambered down the slope of the breakwater.There was a long rivulet in the strand: and, as he waded slowly up its course, he wondered at
the endless drift of seaweed. Emerald and black and russet and olive, it moved beneath the
current, swaying and turning. The water of the rivulet was dark with endless drift and
mirrored the highdrifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silently and silently the
seatangle was drifting below him; and the grey warm air was still: and a new wild life was
singing in his veins.
Where was his boyhood now? Where was the soul that had hung back from her destiny, to
brood alone upon the shame of her wounds and in her house of squalor and subterfuge to
queen it in faded cerements and in wreaths that withered at the touch? Or where was he?
He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and
young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the
seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures, of
children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.
A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one
whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long
slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed
had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and softhued as ivory, were
bared almost to the hips where the white fringes of her drawers were like featherings of soft
white down. Her slateblue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed behind her.
Her bosom was as a bird’s soft and slight, slight and soft as the breast of some darkplumaged
dove. But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder mortal
beauty, her face.
She was alone and still, gazing out to sea; and when she felt his presence and the worship of
his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness.
Long, long she suffered his gaze and then quietly withdrew her eyes from his and bent them
towards the stream, gently stirring the water with her foot hither and thither. The first faint
noise of gently moving water broke the silence, low and faint and whispering, faint as the bells
of sleep; hither and thither, hither and thither: and a faint flame trembled on her cheek.
—Heavenly God! cried Stephen’s soul, in an outburst of profane joy.
He turned away from her suddenly and set off across the strand. His cheeks were aflame; his
body was aglow; his limbs were trembling. On and on and on and on he strode, far out over
the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him.
Her image had passed into his soul for ever and no word had broken the holy silence of his
ecstasy. Her eyes had called him and his soul had leaped at the call. To live, to err, to fall, to
triumph, to recreate life out of life! A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal
youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant
of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory. On and on and on and on!
He halted suddenly and heard his heart in the silence. How far had he walked? What hour
was it?
There was no human figure near him nor any sound borne to him over the air. But the tide
was near the turn and already the day was on the wane. He turned landward and ran towards
the shore and, running up the sloping beach, reckless of the sharp shingle, found a sandy
nook amid a ring of tufted sandknolls and lay down there that the peace and silence of the
evening might still the riot of his blood.
He felt above him the vast indifferent dome and the calm processes of the heavenly bodies;
and the earth beneath him, the earth that had borne him, had taken him to her breast.
He closed his eyes in the languor of sleep. His eyelids trembled as if they felt the vast cyclic
movement of the earth and her watchers, trembled as if they felt the strange light of some new
world. His soul was swooning into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under sea,
traversed by cloudy shapes and beings. A world, a glimmer, or a flower? Glimmering and
trembling, trembling and unfolding, a breaking light, an opening flower, it spread in endless
succession to itself, breaking in full crimson and unfolding and fading to palest rose, leaf by
leaf and wave of light by wave of light, flooding all the heavens with its soft flushes, every flushdeeper than other.
Evening had fallen when he woke and the sand and arid grasses of his bed glowed no
longer. He rose slowly and, recalling the rapture of his sleep, sighed at its joy.
He climbed to the crest of the sandhill and gazed about him. Evening had fallen. A rim of
the young moon cleft the pale waste of sky like the rim of a silver hoop embedded in grey sand;
and the tide was flowing in fast to the land with a low whisper of her waves, islanding a few
last figures in distant pools.
® V
H e drained his third cup of watery tea to the dregs and set to chewing the crusts of fried bread
that were scattered near him, staring into the dark pool of the jar. The yellow dripping had
been scooped out like a boghole and the pool under it brought back to his memory the dark
turfcoloured water of the bath in Clongowes. The box of pawntickets at his elbow had just
been rifled and he took up idly one after another in his greasy fingers the blue and white
dockets, scrawled and sanded and creased and bearing the name of the pledger as Daly or
MacEvoy.
1 Pair Buskins.
1 D. Coat.
3 Articles and White.
1 Man’s Pants.
Then he put them aside and gazed thoughtfully at the lid of the box, speckled with
lousemarks, and asked vaguely:
—How much is the clock fast now?
His mother straightened the battered alarmclock that was lying on its side in the middle of
the kitchen mantelpiece until its dial showed a quarter to twelve and then laid it once more on
its side.
—An hour and twentyfive minutes, she said. The right time now is twenty past ten. The dear
knows you might try to be in time for your lectures.
—Fill out the place for me to wash, said Stephen.
—Katey, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
—Boody, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
—I can’t, I’m going for blue. Fill it out, you, Maggie.
When the enamelled basin had been fitted into the well of the sink and the old
washingglove flung on the side of it he allowed his mother to scrub his neck and root into the
folds of his ears and into the interstices at the wings of his nose.
—Well, it’s a poor case, she said, when a university student is so dirty that his mother has to
wash him.
—But it gives you pleasure, said Stephen calmly.
An earsplitting whistle was heard from upstairs and his mother thrust a damp overall into
his hands, saying:
—Dry yourself and hurry out for the love of goodness.
A second shrill whistle, prolonged angrily, brought one of the girls to the foot of the
staircase.
—Yes, father?
—Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?
—Yes, father.
—Sure?
—Yes, father.
—Hm!
The girl came back making signs to him to be quick and go out quietly by the back. Stephen
laughed and said:
—He has a curious idea of genders if he thinks a bitch is masculine.
—Ah, it’s a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, said his mother, and you’ll live to rue the
day you set your foot in that place. I know how it has changed you.
—Good morning, everybody, said Stephen, smiling and kissing the tips of his fingers in
adieu.The lane behind the terrace was waterlogged and as he went down it slowly, choosing his
steps amid heaps of wet rubbish, he heard a mad nun screeching in the nuns’ madhouse
beyond the wall.
—Jesus! O Jesus! Jesus!
He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and hurried on, stumbling
through the mouldering offal, his heart already bitten by an ache of loathing and bitterness.
His father’s whistle, his mother’s mutterings, the screech of an unseen maniac were to him
now so many voices offending and threatening to humble the pride of his youth. He drove
their echoes even out of his heart with an execration: but, as he walked down the avenue and
felt the grey morning light falling about him through the dripping trees and smelt the strange
wild smell of the wet leaves and bark, his soul was loosed of her miseries.
The rainladen trees of the avenue evoked in him, as always, memories of the girls and
women in the plays of Gerhart Hauptmann; and the memory of their pale sorrows and the
fragrance falling from the wet branches mingled in a mood of quiet joy. His morning walk
across the city had begun, and he foreknew that as he passed the sloblands of Fairview he
would think of the cloistral silverveined prose of Newman, that as he walked along the North
Strand Road, glancing idly at the windows of the provision shops, he would recall the dark
humour of Guido Cavalcanti and smile, that as he went by Baird’s stonecutting works in
Talbot Place the spirit of Ibsen would blow through him like a keen wind, a spirit of wayward
boyish beauty, and that passing a grimy marinedealer’s shop beyond the Liffey he would
repeat the song by Ben Jonson which begins:
I was not wearier where I lay.
His mind, when wearied of its search for the essence of beauty amid the spectral words of
Aristotle or Aquinas, turned often for its pleasure to the dainty songs of the Elizabethans. His
mind, in the vesture of a doubting monk, stood often in shadow under the windows of that
age, to hear the grave and mocking music of the lutenists or the frank laughter of
waistcoateers until a laugh too low, a phrase, tarnished by time, of chambering and false
honour, stung his monkish pride and drove him on from his lurkingplace.
The lore which he was believed to pass his days brooding upon so that it had rapt him from
the companionships of youth was only a garner of slender sentences from Aristotle’s poetics
and psychology and a Synopsis Philosophiæ Scholastiæ ad mentem divi Thomæ. His thinking was
a dusk of doubt and selfmistrust lit up at moments by the lightnings of intuition, but
lightnings of so clear a splendour that in those moments the world perished about his feet as
if it had been fireconsumed: and thereafter his tongue grew heavy and he met the eyes of
others with unanswering eyes for he felt that the spirit of beauty had folded him round like a
mantle and that in revery at least he had been acquainted with nobility. But, when this brief
pride of silence upheld him no longer, he was glad to find himself still in the midst of
common lives, passing on his way amid the squalor and noise and sloth of the city fearlessly
and with a light heart.
Near the hoardings on the canal he met the consumptive man with the doll’s face and the
brimless hat coming towards him down the slope of the bridge with little steps, tightly
buttoned into his chocolate overcoat, and holding his furled umbrella a span or two from him
like a diviningrod. It must be eleven, he thought, and peered into a dairy to see the time. The
clock in the dairy told him that it was five minutes to five but, as he turned away, he heard a
clock somewhere near him, but unseen, beating eleven strokes in swift precision. He laughed
as he heard it for it made him think of MacCann and he saw him a squat figure in a shooting
jacket and breeches and with a fair goatee, standing in the wind at Hopkins’ corner, and
heard him say:
—Dedalus, you’re an antisocial being, wrapped up in yourself. I’m not. I’m a democrat: and
I’ll work and act for social liberty and equality among all classes and sexes in the United States
of the Europe of the future.
Eleven! Then he was late for that lecture too. What day of the week was it? He stopped at a
newsagent’s to read the headline of a placard. Thursday. Ten to eleven, English; eleven totwelve, French; twelve to one, physics. He fancied to himself the English lecture and felt, even
at that distance, restless and helpless. He saw the heads of his classmates meekly bent as they
wrote in their notebooks the points they were bidden to note, nominal definitions, essential
definitions and examples or dates of birth or death, chief works, a favourable and an
unfavourable criticism side by side. His own head was unbent for his thoughts wandered
abroad and whether he looked around the little class of students or out of the window across
the desolate gardens of the green an odour assailed him of cheerless cellardamp and decay.
Another head than his, right before him in the first benches, was poised squarely above its
bending fellows like the head of a priest appealing without humility to the tabernacle for the
humble worshippers about him. Why was it that when he thought of Cranly he could never
raise before his mind the entire image of his body but only the image of the head and face?
Even now against the grey curtain of the morning he saw it before him like the phantom of a
dream, the face of a severed head or deathmask, crowned on the brows by its stiff black
upright hair as by an iron crown. It was a priestlike face, priestlike in its pallor, in the
widewinged nose, in the shadowings below the eyes and along the jaws, priestlike in the lips
that were long and bloodless and faintly smiling: and Stephen, remembering swiftly how he
had told Cranly of all the tumults and unrest and longings in his soul, day after day and night
by night, only to be answered by his friend’s listening silence, would have told himself that it
was the face of a guilty priest who heard confessions of those whom he had not power to
absolve but that he felt again in memory the gaze of its dark womanish eyes.
Through this image he had a glimpse of a strange dark cavern of speculation but at once
turned away from it, feeling that it was not yet the hour to enter it. But the nightshade of his
friend’s listlessness seemed to be diffusing in the air around him a tenuous and deadly
exhalation and he found himself glancing from one casual word to another on his right or left
in stolid wonder that they had been so silently emptied of instantaneous sense until every
mean shop legend bound his mind like the words of a spell and his soul shrivelled up, sighing
with age as he walked on in a lane among heaps of dead language. His own consciousness of
language was ebbing from his brain and trickling into the very words themselves which set to
band and disband themselves in wayward rhythms:
The ivy whines upon the wall
And whines and twines upon the wall
The ivy whines upon the wall
The yellow ivy on the wall
Ivy, ivy up the wall.
Did any one ever hear such drivel? Lord Almighty! Who ever heard of ivy whining on a wall?
Yellow ivy: that was all right. Yellow ivory also. And what about ivory ivy?
The word now shone in his brain, clearer and brighter than any ivory sawn from the
mottled tusks of elephants. Ivory, ivoire, avorio, ebur. One of the first examples that he had
learnt in Latin had run: India mittit ebur; and he recalled the shrewd northern face of the
rector who had taught him to construe the Metamorphoses of Ovid in a courtly English, made
whimsical by the mention of porkers and potsherds and chines of bacon. He had learnt what
little he knew of the laws of Latin verse from a ragged book written by a Portuguese priest.
Contrahit orator, variant in carmine vates.
The crises and victories and secessions in Roman history were handed on to him in the trite
words in tanto discrimine and he had tried to peer into the social life of the city of cities through
the words implere ollam denariorum which the rector had rendered sonorously as the filling of
a pot with denaries. The pages of his timeworn Horace never felt cold to the touch even when
his own fingers were cold: they were human pages: and fifty years before they had been turned
by the human fingers of John Duncan Inverarity and by his brother, William Malcolm
Inverarity. Yes, those were noble names on the dusky flyleaf and, even for so poor a Latinist as
he, the dusky verses were as fragrant as though they had lain all those years in myrtle and
lavender and vervain; but yet it wounded him to think that he would never be but a shy guest atthe feast of the world’s culture and that the monkish learning, in terms of which he was
striving to forge out an esthetic philosophy, was held no higher by the age he lived in than the
subtle and curious jargons of heraldry and falconry.
The grey block of Trinity on his left, set heavily in the city’s ignorance like a great dull stone
set in a cumbrous ring, pulled his mind downward; and while he was striving this way and
that to free his feet from the fetters of the reformed conscience he came upon the droll statue
of the national poet of Ireland.
He looked at it without anger: for, though sloth of the body and of the soul crept over it like
unseen vermin, over the shuffling feet and up the folds of the cloak and around the servile
head, it seemed humbly conscious of its indignity. It was a Firbolg in the borrowed cloak of a
Milesian; and he thought of his friend Davin, the peasant student. It was a jesting name
between them but the young peasant bore with it lightly saying:
—Go on, Stevie, I have a hard head, you tell me. Call me what you will.
The homely version of his christian name on the lips of his friend had touched Stephen
pleasantly when first heard for he was as formal in speech with others as they were with him.
Often, as he sat in Davin’s rooms in Grantham Street, wondering at his friend’s wellmade
boots that flanked the wall pair by pair and repeating for his friend’s simple ear the verses and
cadences of others which were the veils of his own longing and dejection, the rude Firbolg
mind of his listener had drawn his mind towards it and flung it back again, drawing it by a
quiet inbred courtesy of attention or by a quaint turn of old English speech or by the force of
its delight in rude bodily skill—for Davin had sat at the feet of Michael Cusack, the Gael—
repelling swiftly and suddenly by a grossness of intelligence or by a bluntness of feeling or by a
dull stare of terror in the eyes, the terror of soul of a starving Irish village in which the curfew
was still a nightly fear.
Side by side with his memory of the deeds of prowess of his uncle Mat Davin, the athlete, the
young peasant worshipped the sorrowful legend of Ireland. The gossip of his fellowstudents
which strove to render the flat life of the college significant at any cost loved to think of him as
a young fenian. His nurse had taught him Irish and shaped his rude imagination by the
broken lights of Irish myth. He stood towards this myth upon which no individual mind had
ever drawn out a line of beauty and to its unwieldy tales that divided themselves as they moved
down the cycles in the same attitude as towards the Roman catholic religion, the attitude of a
dullwitted loyal serf. Whatsoever of thought or of feeling came to him from England or by way
of English culture his mind stood armed against in obedience to a password: and of the world
that lay beyond England he knew only the foreign legion of France in which he spoke of
serving.
Coupling this ambition with the young man’s humour Stephen had often called him one of
the tame geese: and there was even a point of irritation in the name pointed against that very
reluctance of speech and deed in his friend which seemed so often to stand between
Stephen’s mind, eager of speculation, and the hidden ways of Irish life.
One night the young peasant, his spirit stung by the violent or luxurious language in which
Stephen escaped from the cold silence of intellectual revolt, had called up before Stephen’s
mind a strange vision. The two were walking slowly towards Davin’s room through the dark
narrow streets of the poorer jews.
—A thing happened to myself, Stevie, last autumn, coming on winter, and I never told it to a
living soul and you are the first person now I ever told it to. I disremember if it was October or
November. It was October because it was before I came up here to join the matriculation class.
Stephen had turned his smiling eyes towards his friend’s face, flattered by his confidence
and won over to sympathy by the speaker’s simple accent.
—I was away all that day from my own place over in Buttevant—I don’t know if you know
where that is—at a hurling match between the Croke’s Own Boys and the Fearless Thurles
and by God, Stevie, that was the hard fight. My first cousin, Fonsy Davin, was stripped to his
buff that day minding cool for the Limericks but he was up with the forwards half the time
and shouting like mad. I never will forget that day. One of the Crokes made a woeful wipe athim one time with his camann and I declare to God he was within an aim’s ace of getting it at
the side of the temple. Oh, honest to God, if the crook of it caught him that time he was done
for.
—I am glad he escaped, Stephen had said with a laugh, but surely that’s not the strange
thing that happened you?
—Well, I suppose that doesn’t interest you but leastways there was such noise after the
match that I missed the train home and I couldn’t get any kind of a yoke to give me a lift for, as
luck would have it, there was a mass meeting that same day over in Castletownroche and all
the cars in the country were there. So there was nothing for it only to stay the night or to foot it
out. Well, I started to walk and on I went and it was coming on night when I got into the
Ballyhoura hills; that’s better than ten miles from Kilmallock and there’s a long lonely road
after that. You wouldn’t see the sign of a christian house along the road or hear a sound. It
was pitch dark almost. Once or twice I stopped by the way under a bush to redden my pipe and
only for the dew was thick I’d have stretched out there and slept. At last, after a bend of the
road, I spied a little cottage with a light in the window. I went up and knocked at the door. A
voice asked who was there and I answered I was over at the match in Buttevant and was
walking back and that I’d be thankful for a glass of water. After a while a young woman
opened the door and brought me out a big mug of milk. She was half undressed as if she was
going to bed when I knocked and she had her hair hanging; and I thought by her figure and by
something in the look of her eyes that she must be carrying a child. She kept me in talk a long
while at the door and I thought it strange because her breast and her shoulders were bare. She
asked me was I tired and would I like to stop the night there. She said she was all alone in the
house and that her husband had gone that morning to Queenstown with his sister to see her
off. And all the time she was talking, Stevie, she had her eyes fixed on my face and she stood so
close to me I could hear her breathing. When I handed her back the mug at last she took my
hand to draw me in over the threshold and said: Come in and stay the night here. You’ve no call
to be frightened. There’s no one in it but ourselves…. I didn’t go in, Stevie. I thanked her and went
on my way again, all in a fever. At the first bend of the road I looked back and she was standing
at the door.
The last words of Davin’s story sang in his memory and the figure of the woman in the story
stood forth, reflected in other figures of the peasant women whom he had seen standing in
the doorways at Clane as the college cars drove by, as a type of her race and his own, a batlike
soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness and,
through the eyes and voice and gesture of a woman without guile, calling the stranger to her
bed.
A hand was laid on his arm and a young voice cried:
—Ah, gentleman, your own girl, sir! The first handsel today, gentleman. Buy that lovely
bunch. Will you, gentleman?
The blue flowers which she lifted towards him and her young blue eyes seemed to him at
that instant images of guilelessness; and he halted till the image had vanished and he saw
only her ragged dress and damp coarse hair and hoydenish face.
—Do, gentleman! Don’t forget your own girl, sir!
—I have no money, said Stephen.
—Buy them lovely ones, will you, sir? Only a penny.
—Did you hear what I said? asked Stephen, bending towards her. I told you I had no money.
I tell you again now.
—Well, sure, you will some day, sir, please God, the girl answered after an instant.
—Possibly, said Stephen, but I don’t think it likely.
He left her quickly, fearing that her intimacy might turn to gibing and wishing to be out of
the way before she offered her ware to another, a tourist from England or a student of Trinity.
Grafton Street, along which he walked, prolonged that moment of discouraged poverty. In the
roadway at the head of the street a slab was set to the memory of Wolfe Tone and he
remembered having been present with his father at its laying. He remembered with bitternessthat scene of tawdry tribute. There were four French delegates in a brake and one, a plump
smiling young man, held, wedged on a stick, a card on which were printed the words: Vive
l’Irlande!
But the trees in Stephen’s Green were fragrant of rain and the rainsodden earth gave forth
its mortal odour, a faint incense rising upward through the mould from many hearts. The
soul of the gallant venal city which his elders had told him of had shrunk with time to a faint
mortal odour rising from the earth and he knew that in a moment when he entered the
sombre college he would be conscious of a corruption other than that of Buck Egan and
Burnchapel Whaley.
It was too late to go upstairs to the French class. He crossed the hall and took the corridor to
the left which led to the physics theatre. The corridor was dark and silent but not unwatchful.
Why did he feel that it was not unwatchful? Was it because he had heard that in Buck
Whaley’s time there was a secret staircase there? Or was the jesuit house extraterritorial and
was he walking among aliens? The Ireland of Tone and of Parnell seemed to have receded in
space.
He opened the door of the theatre and halted in the chilly grey light that struggled through
the dusty windows. A figure was crouching before the large grate and by its leanness and
greyness he knew that it was the dean of studies lighting the fire. Stephen closed the door
quietly and approached the fireplace.
—Good morning, sir! Can I help you?
The priest looked up quickly and said:
—One moment now, Mr Dedalus, and you will see. There is an art in lighting a fire. We have
the liberal arts and we have the useful arts. This is one of the useful arts.
—I will try to learn it, said Stephen.
—Not too much coal, said the dean, working briskly at his task, that is one of the secrets.
He produced four candlebutts from the sidepockets of his soutane and placed them deftly
among the coals and twisted papers. Stephen watched him in silence. Kneeling thus on the
flagstone to kindle the fire and busied with the disposition of his wisps of paper and
candlebutts he seemed more than ever a humble server making ready the place of sacrifice in
an empty temple, a levite of the Lord. Like a levite’s robe of plain linen the faded worn soutane
draped the kneeling figure of one whom the canonicals or the bellbordered ephod would irk
and trouble. His very body had waxed old in lowly service of the Lord—in tending the fire upon
the altar, in bearing tidings secretly, in waiting upon worldlings, in striking swiftly when
bidden—and yet had remained ungraced by aught of saintly or of prelatic beauty. Nay, his very
soul had waxed old in that service without growing towards light and beauty or spreading
abroad a sweet odour of her sanctity—a mortified will no more responsive to the thrill of its
obedience than was to the thrill of love or combat his aging body, spare and sinewy, greyed
with a silverpointed down.
The dean rested back on his hunkers and watched the sticks catch. Stephen, to fill the
silence, said:
—I am sure I could not light a fire.
—You are an artist, are you not, Mr Dedalus? said the dean, glancing up and blinking his
pale eyes. The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is
another question.
He rubbed his hands slowly and drily over the difficulty.
—Can you solve that question now? he asked.
—Aquinas, answered Stephen, says pulcra sunt quæ visa placent.
—This fire before us, said the dean, will be pleasing to the eye. Will it therefore be beautiful?
—In so far as it is apprehended by the sight, which I suppose means here esthetic
intellection, it will be beautiful. But Aquinas also says Bonum est in quod tendit appetitus. In so
far as it satisfies the animal craving for warmth fire is a good. In hell however it is an evil.
—Quite so, said the dean, you have certainly hit the nail on the head.
He rose nimbly and went towards the door, set it ajar and said:—A draught is said to be a help in these matters.
As he came back to the hearth, limping slightly but with a brisk step, Stephen saw the silent
soul of a jesuit look out at him from the pale loveless eyes. Like Ignatius he was lame but in his
eyes burned no spark of Ignatius’ enthusiasm. Even the legendary craft of the company, a
craft subtler and more secret than its fabled books of secret subtle wisdom, had not fired his
soul with the energy of apostleship. It seemed as if he used the shifts and lore and cunning of
the world, as bidden to do, for the greater glory of God, without joy in their handling or hatred
of that in them which was evil but turning them, with a firm gesture of obedience, back upon
themselves: and for all this silent service it seemed as if he loved not at all the master and little,
if at all, the ends he served. Similiter atque senis baculus, he was, as the founder would have had
him, like a staff in an old man’s hand, to be left in a corner, to be leaned on in the road at
nightfall or in stress of weather, to lie with a lady’s nosegay on a garden seat, to be raised in
menace.
The dean returned to the hearth and began to stroke his chin.
—When may we expect to have something from you on the esthetic question? he asked.
—From me! said Stephen in astonishment. I stumble on an idea once a fortnight if I am
lucky.
—These questions are very profound, Mr Dedalus, said the dean. It is like looking down
from the cliffs of Moher into the depths. Many go down into the depths and never come up.
Only the trained diver can go down into those depths and explore them and come to the
surface again.
—If you mean speculation, sir, said Stephen, I also am sure that there is no such thing as
free thinking inasmuch as all thinking must be bound by its own laws.
—Ha!
—For my purpose I can work on at present by the light of one or two ideas of Aristotle and
Aquinas.
—I see. I quite see your point.
—I need them only for my own use and guidance until I have done something for myself by
their light. If the lamp smokes or smells I shall try to trim it. If it does not give light enough I
shall sell it and buy another.
—Epictetus also had a lamp, said the dean, which was sold for a fancy price after his death.
It was the lamp he wrote his philosophical dissertations by. You know Epictetus?
—An old gentleman, said Stephen coarsely, who said that the soul is very like a bucketful of
water.
—He tells us in his homely way, the dean went on, that he put an iron lamp before a statue
of one of the gods and that a thief stole the lamp. What did the philosopher do? He reflected
that it was in the character of a thief to steal and determined to buy an earthen lamp next day
instead of the iron lamp.
A smell of molten tallow came up from the dean’s candle butts and fused itself in Stephen’s
consciousness with the jingle of the words, bucket and lamp and lamp and bucket. The
priest’s voice too had a hard jingling tone. Stephen’s mind halted by instinct, checked by the
strange tone and the imagery and by the priest’s face which seemed like an unlit lamp or a
reflector hung in a false focus. What lay behind it or within it? A dull torpor of the soul or the
dullness of the thundercloud, charged with intellection and capable of the gloom of God?
—I meant a different kind of lamp, sir, said Stephen.
—Undoubtedly, said the dean.
—One difficulty, said Stephen, in esthetic discussion is to know whether words are being
used according to the literary tradition or according to the tradition of the marketplace. I
remember a sentence of Newman’s in which he says of the Blessed Virgin that she was
detained in the full company of the saints. The use of the word in the marketplace is quite
different. I hope I am not detaining you.
—Not in the least, said the dean politely.
—No, no, said Stephen, smiling, I mean …—Yes, yes: I see, said the dean quickly, I quite catch the point: detain.
He thrust forward his under jaw and uttered a dry short cough.
—To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice problem. You must choose
the pure oil and you must be careful when you pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more
than the funnel can hold.
—What funnel? asked Stephen.
—The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.
—That? said Stephen. Is that called a funnel? Is it not a tundish?
—What is a tundish?
—That. The … the funnel.
—Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard the word in my life.
—It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen laughing, where they speak the
best English.
—A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting word. I must look that
word up. Upon my word I must.
His courtesy of manner rang a little false, and Stephen looked at the English convert with
the same eyes as the elder brother in the parable may have turned on the prodigal. A humble
follower in the wake of clamorous conversions, a poor Englishman in Ireland, he seemed to
have entered on the stage of jesuit history when that strange play of intrigue and suffering and
envy and struggle and indignity had been all but given through—a late comer, a tardy spirit.
From what had he set out? Perhaps he had been born and bred among serious dissenters,
seeing salvation in Jesus only and abhorring the vain pomps of the establishment. Had he felt
the need of an implicit faith amid the welter of sectarianism and the jargon of its turbulent
schisms, six principle men, peculiar people, seed and snake baptists, supralapsarian
dogmatists? Had he found the true church all of a sudden in winding up to the end like a reel
of cotton some finespun line of reasoning upon insufflation or the imposition of hands or the
procession of the Holy Ghost? Or had Lord Christ touched him and bidden him follow, like
that disciple who had sat at the receipt of custom, as he sat by the door of some zincroofed
chapel, yawning and telling over his church pence?
The dean repeated the word yet again.
—Tundish! Well now, that is interesting!
—The question you asked me a moment ago seems to me more interesting. What is that
beauty which the artist struggles to express from lumps of earth, said Stephen coldly.
The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his sensitiveness against this
courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a smart of dejection that the man to whom he was
speaking was a countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:
—The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the
words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words
without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an
acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul
frets in the shadow of his language.
—And to distinguish between the beautiful and the sublime, the dean added. To distinguish
between moral beauty and material beauty. And to inquire what kind of beauty is proper to
each of the various arts. These are some interesting points we might take up.
Stephen, disheartened suddenly by the dean’s firm dry tone, was silent. The dean also was
silent: and through the silence a distant noise of many boots and confused voices came up the
staircase.
—In pursuing these speculations, said the dean conclusively, there is however the danger of
perishing of inanition. First you must take your degree. Set that before you as your first aim.
Then little by little, you will see your way. I mean in every sense, your way in life and in
thinking. It may be uphill pedalling at first. Take Mr Moonan. He was a long time before he
got to the top. But he got there.
—I may not have his talent, said Stephen quietly.—You never know, said the dean brightly. We never can say what is in us. I most certainly
should not be despondent. Per aspera ad astra.
He left the hearth quickly and went towards the landing to oversee the arrival of the first
arts’ class.
Leaning against the fireplace Stephen heard him greet briskly and impartially every student
of the class and could almost see the frank smiles of the coarser students. A desolating pity
began to fall like a dew upon his easily embittered heart for this faithful servingman of the
knightly Loyola, for this halfbrother of the clergy, more venal than they in speech, more
steadfast of soul than they, one whom he would never call his ghostly father: and he thought
how this man and his companions had earned the name of worldlings at the hands not of the
unworldly only but of the worldly also for having pleaded, during all their history, at the bar of
God’s justice for the souls of the lax and the lukewarm and the prudent.
The entry of the professor was signalled by a few rounds of Kentish fire from the heavy
boots of those students who sat on the highest tier of the gloomy theatre under the grey
cobwebbed windows. The calling of the roll began and the responses to the names were given
out in all tones until the name of Peter Byrne was reached.
—Here!
A deep base note in response came from the upper tier, followed by coughs of protest along
the other benches.
The professor paused in his reading and called the next name:
—Cranly!
No answer.
—Mr Cranly!
A smile flew across Stephen’s face as he thought of his friend’s studies.
—Try Leopardstown! said a voice from the bench behind.
Stephen glanced up quickly but Moynihan’s snoutish face, outlined on the grey light, was
impassive. A formula was given out. Amid the rustling of the notebooks Stephen turned back
again and said:
—Give me some paper for God’s sake.
—Are you as bad as that? asked Moynihan with a broad grin.
He tore a sheet from his scribbler and passed it down, whispering:
—In case of necessity any layman or woman can do it.
The formula which he wrote obediently on the sheet of paper, the coiling and uncoiling
calculations of the professor, the spectrelike symbols of force and velocity fascinated and
jaded Stephen’s mind. He had heard some say that the old professor was an atheist
freemason. O the grey dull day! It seemed a limbo of painless patient consciousness through
which souls of mathematicians might wander, projecting long slender fabrics from plane to
plane of ever rarer and paler twilight, radiating swift eddies to the last verges of a universe ever
vaster, farther and more impalpable.
—So we must distinguish between elliptical and ellipsoidal. Perhaps some of you
gentlemen may be familiar with the works of Mr W. S. Gilbert. In one of his songs he speaks of
the billiard sharp who is condemned to play:
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue
And elliptical billiard balls.
—He means a ball having the form of the ellipsoid of the principal axes of which I spoke a
moment ago.
Moynihan leaned down towards Stephen’s ear and murmured:
—What price ellipsoidal balls! Chase me, ladies, I’m in the cavalry!
His fellowstudent’s rude humour ran like a gust through the cloister of Stephen’s mind,
shaking into gay life limp priestly vestments that hung upon the walls, setting them to sway
and caper in a sabbath of misrule. The forms of the community emerged from the gustblown
vestments, the dean of studies, the portly florid bursar with his cap of grey hair, the president,the little priest with feathery hair who wrote devout verses, the squat peasant form of the
professor of economics, the tall form of the young professor of mental science discussing on
the landing a case of conscience with his class like a giraffe cropping high leafage among a
herd of antelopes, the grave troubled prefect of the sodality, the plump roundheaded
professor of Italian with his rogue’s eyes. They came ambling and stumbling, tumbling and
capering, kilting their gowns for leap frog, holding one another back, shaken with deep fast
laughter, smacking one another behind and laughing at their rude malice, calling to one
another by familiar nicknames, protesting with sudden dignity at some rough usage,
whispering two and two behind their hands.
The professor had gone to the glass cases on the sidewall from a shelf of which he took
down a set of coils, blew away the dust from many points and, bearing it carefully to the table,
held a finger on it while he proceeded with his lecture. He explained that the wires in modern
coils were of a compound called platinoid lately discovered by F. W. Martino.
He spoke clearly the initials and surname of the discoverer. Moynihan whispered from
behind:
—Good old Fresh Water Martin!
—Ask him, Stephen whispered back with weary humour, if he wants a subject for
electrocution. He can have me.
Moynihan, seeing the professor bend over the coils, rose in his bench and, clacking
noiselessly the fingers of his right hand, began to call with the voice of a slobbering urchin:
—Please, teacher! Please, teacher! This boy is after saying a bad word, teacher.
—Platinoid, the professor said solemnly, is preferred to German silver because it has a lower
coefficient of resistance variation by changes of temperature. The platinoid wire is insulated
and the covering of silk that insulates it is wound on the ebonite bobbins just where my finger
is. If it were wound single an extra current would be induced in the coils. The bobbins are
saturated in hot paraffin wax …
A sharp Ulster voice said from the bench below Stephen:
—Are we likely to be asked questions on applied science?
The professor began to juggle gravely with the terms pure science and applied science. A
heavybuilt student wearing gold spectacles stared with some wonder at the questioner.
Moynihan murmured from behind in his natural voice:
—Isn’t MacAlister a devil for his pound of flesh?
Stephen looked down coldly on the oblong skull beneath him overgrown with tangled
twinecoloured hair. The voice, the accent, the mind of the questioner offended him and he
allowed the offence to carry him towards wilful unkindness, bidding his mind think that the
student’s father would have done better had he sent his son to Belfast to study and have saved
something on the train fare by so doing.
The oblong skull beneath did not turn to meet this shaft of thought and yet the shaft came
back to its bowstring: for he saw in a moment the student’s wheypale face.
—That thought is not mine, he said to himself quickly. It came from the comic Irishman in
the bench behind. Patience. Can you say with certitude by whom the soul of your race was
bartered and its elect betrayed—by the questioner or by the mocker? Patience. Remember
Epictetus. It is probably in his character to ask such a question at such a moment in such a
tone and to pronounce the word science as a monosyllable.
The droning voice of the professor continued to wind itself slowly round and round the
coils it spoke of, doubling, trebling, quadrupling its somnolent energy as the coil multiplied
its ohms of resistance.
Moynihan’s voice called from behind in echo to a distant bell:
—Closing time, gents!
The entrance hall was crowded and loud with talk. On a table near the door were two
photographs in frames and between them a long roll of paper bearing an irregular tail of
signatures. MacCann went briskly to and fro among the students, talking rapidly, answering
rebuffs and leading one after another to the table. In the inner hall the dean of studies stoodtalking to a young professor, stroking his chin gravely and nodding his head.
Stephen, checked by the crowd at the door, halted irresolutely. From under the wide falling
leaf of a soft hat Cranly’s dark eyes were watching him.
—Have you signed? Stephen asked.
Cranly closed his long thinlipped mouth, communed with himself an instant and
answered:
—Ego habeo.
—What is it for?
—Quod?
—What is it for?
Cranly turned his pale face to Stephen and said blandly and bitterly:
—Per pax universalis.
Stephen pointed to the Csar’s photograph and said:
—He has the face of a besotted Christ.
The scorn and anger in his voice brought Cranly’s eyes back from a calm survey of the walls
of the hall.
—Are you annoyed? he asked.
—No, answered Stephen.
—Are you in bad humour?
—No.
—Credo ut vos sanguinarius mendax estis, said Cranly, quia facies vostra monstrat ut vos in
damno malo humore estis.
Moynihan, on his way to the table, said in Stephen’s ear:
—MacCann is in tiptop form. Ready to shed the last drop. Brandnew world. No stimulants
and votes for the bitches.
Stephen smiled at the manner of this confidence and, when Moynihan had passed, turned
again to meet Cranly’s eyes.
—Perhaps you can tell me, he said, why he pours his soul so freely into my ear. Can you?
A dull scowl appeared on Cranly’s forehead. He stared at the table where Moynihan had
bent to write his name on the roll, and then said flatly:
—A sugar!
—Quis est in malo humore, said Stephen, ego aut vos?
Cranly did not take up the taunt. He brooded sourly on his judgment and repeated with the
same flat force:
—A flaming bloody sugar, that’s what he is!
It was his epitaph for all dead friendships and Stephen wondered whether it would ever be
spoken in the same tone over his memory. The heavy lumpish phrase sank slowly out of
hearing like a stone through a quagmire. Stephen saw it sink as he had seen many another,
feeling its heaviness depress his heart. Cranly’s speech, unlike that of Davin, had neither rare
phrases of Elizabethan English nor quaintly turned versions of Irish idioms. Its drawl was an
echo of the quays of Dublin given back by a bleak decaying seaport, its energy an echo of the
sacred eloquence of Dublin given back flatly by a Wicklow pulpit.
The heavy scowl faded from Cranly’s face as MacCann marched briskly towards them from
the other side of the hall.
—Here you are! said MacCann cheerily.
—Here I am! said Stephen.
—Late as usual. Can you not combine the progressive tendency with a respect for
punctuality?
—That question is out of order, said Stephen. Next business.
His smiling eyes were fixed on a silverwrapped tablet of milk chocolate which peeped out of
the propagandist’s breastpocket. A little ring of listeners closed round to hear the war of wits.
A lean student with olive skin and lank black hair thrust his face between the two, glancing
from one to the other at each phrase and seeming to try to catch each flying phrase in hisopen moist mouth. Cranly took a small grey handball from his pocket and began to examine
it closely, turning it over and over.
—Next business? said MacCann. Hom!
He gave a loud cough of laughter, smiled broadly and tugged twice at the strawcoloured
goatee which hung from his blunt chin.
—The next business is to sign the testimonial.
—Will you pay me anything if I sign? asked Stephen.
—I thought you were an idealist, said MacCann.
The gipsylike student looked about him and addressed the onlookers in an indistinct
bleating voice.
—By hell, that’s a queer notion. I consider that notion to be a mercenary notion.
His voice faded into silence. No heed was paid to his words. He turned his olive face, equine
in expression, towards Stephen, inviting him to speak again.
MacCann began to speak with fluent energy of the Csar’s rescript, of Stead, of general
disarmament, arbitration in cases of international disputes, of the signs of the times, of the
new humanity and the new gospel of life which would make it the business of the community
to secure as cheaply as possible the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible
number.
The gipsy student responded to the close of the period by crying:
—Three cheers for universal brotherhood!
—Go on, Temple, said a stout ruddy student near him. I’ll stand you a pint after.
—I’m a believer in universal brotherhood, said Temple, glancing about him out of his dark,
oval eyes. Marx is only a bloody cod.
Cranly gripped his arm tightly to check his tongue, smiling uneasily, and repeated:
—Easy, easy, easy!
Temple struggled to free his arm but continued, his mouth flecked by a thin foam:
—Socialism was founded by an Irishman and the first man in Europe who preached the
freedom of thought was Collins. Two hundred years ago. He denounced priestcraft, the
philosopher of Middlesex. Three cheers for John Anthony Collins!
A thin voice from the verge of the ring replied:
—Pip! pip!
Moynihan murmured beside Stephen’s ear:
—And what about John Anthony’s poor little sister:
Lottie Collins lost her drawers;
Won’t you kindly lend her yours?
Stephen laughed and Moynihan, pleased with the result, murmured again:
—We’ll have five bob each way on John Anthony Collins.
—I am waiting for your answer, said MacCann briefly.
—The affair doesn’t interest me in the least, said Stephen wearily. You know that well. Why
do you make a scene about it?
—Good! said MacCann, smacking his lips. You are a reactionary then?
—Do you think you impress me, Stephen asked, when you flourish your wooden sword?
—Metaphors! said MacCann bluntly. Come to facts.
Stephen blushed and turned aside. MacCann stood his ground and said with hostile
humour:
—Minor poets, I suppose, are above such trivial questions as the question of universal
peace.
Cranly raised his head and held the handball between the two students by way of a
peaceoffering, saying:
—Pax super totum sanguinarium globum.
Stephen, moving away the bystanders, jerked his shoulder angrily in the direction of the
Csar’s image, saying:
—Keep your icon. If we must have a Jesus, let us have a legitimate Jesus.—By hell, that’s a good one! said the gipsy student to those about him. That’s a fine
expression. I like that expression immensely.
He gulped down the spittle in his throat as if he were gulping down the phrase and,
fumbling at the peak of his tweed cap, turned to Stephen, saying:
—Excuse me, sir, what do you mean by that expression you uttered just now?
Feeling himself jostled by the students near him, he said to them:
—I am curious to know now what he meant by that expression.
He turned again to Stephen and said in a whisper:
—Do you believe in Jesus? I believe in man. Of course, I don’t know if you believe in man. I
admire you, sir. I admire the mind of man independent of all religions. Is that your opinion
about the mind of Jesus?
—Go on, Temple, said the stout ruddy student, returning, as was his wont, to his first idea,
that pint is waiting for you.
—He thinks I’m an imbecile, Temple explained to Stephen, because I’m a believer in the
power of mind.
Cranly linked his arms into those of Stephen and his admirer and said:
—Nos ad manum ballum jocabimus.
Stephen, in the act of being led away, caught sight of MacCann’s flushed bluntfeatured
face.
—My signature is of no account, he said politely. You are right to go your way. Leave me to
go mine.
—Dedalus, said MacCann crisply, I believe you’re a good fellow but you have yet to learn the
dignity of altruism and the responsibility of the human individual.
A voice said:
—Intellectual crankery is better out of this movement than in it.
Stephen, recognizing the harsh tone of MacAlister’s voice, did not turn in the direction of
the voice. Cranly pushed solemnly through the throng of students, linking Stephen and
Temple like a celebrant attended by his ministers on his way to the altar.
Temple bent eagerly across Cranly’s breast and said:
—Did you hear MacAlister what he said? That youth is jealous of you. Did you see that? I bet
Cranly didn’t see that. By hell, I saw that at once.
As they crossed the inner hall the dean of studies was in the act of escaping from the
student with whom he had been conversing. He stood at the foot of the staircase, a foot on the
lowest step, his threadbare soutane gathered about him for the ascent with womanish care,
nodding his head often and repeating:
—Not a doubt of it, Mr Hackett! Very fine! Not a doubt of it!
In the middle of the hall the prefect of the college sodality was speaking earnestly, in a soft
querulous voice, with a boarder. As he spoke he wrinkled a little his freckled brow and bit,
between his phrases, at a tiny bone pencil.
—I hope the matric men will all come. The first arts men are pretty sure. Second arts too.
We must make sure of the newcomers.
Temple bent again across Cranly, as they were passing through the doorway, and said in a
swift whisper:
—Do you know that he is a married man? He was a married man before they converted him.
He has a wife and children somewhere. By hell, I think that’s the queerest notion I ever heard!
Eh?
His whisper trailed off into sly cackling laughter. The moment they were through the
doorway Cranly seized him rudely by the neck and shook him, saying:
—You flaming floundering fool! I’ll take my dying bible there isn’t a bigger bloody ape, do
you know, than you in the whole flaming bloody world!
Temple wriggled in his grip, laughing still with sly content, while Cranly repeated flatly at
every rude shake:
—A flaming flaring bloody idiot!They crossed the weedy garden together. The president, wrapped in a heavy loose cloak, was
coming towards them along one of the walks, reading his office. At the end of the walk he
halted before turning and raised his eyes. The students saluted, Temple fumbling as before at
the peak of his cap. They walked forward in silence. As they neared the alley Stephen could
hear the thuds of the players’ hands and the wet smacks of the ball and Davin’s voice crying
out excitedly at each stroke.
The three students halted round the box on which Davin sat to follow the game. Temple,
after a few moments, sidled across to Stephen and said:
—Excuse me, I wanted to ask you do you believe that Jean Jacques Rousseau was a sincere
man?
Stephen laughed outright. Cranly, picking up the broken stave of a cask from the grass at
his foot, turned swiftly and said sternly:
—Temple, I declare to the living God if you say another word, do you know, to anybody on
any subject I’ll kill you super spottum.
—He was like you, I fancy, said Stephen, an emotional man.
—Blast him, curse him! said Cranly broadly. Don’t talk to him at all. Sure, you might as well
be talking, do you know, to a flaming chamberpot as talking to Temple. Go home, Temple.
For God’s sake, go home.
—I don’t care a damn about you, Cranly, answered Temple, moving out of reach of the
uplifted stave and pointing at Stephen. He’s the only man I see in this institution that has an
individual mind.
—Institution! Individual! cried Cranly. Go home, blast you, for you’re a hopeless bloody
man.
—I’m an emotional man, said Temple. That’s quite rightly expressed. And I’m proud that
I’m an emotionalist.
He sidled out of the alley, smiling slily. Cranly watched him with a blank expressionless
face.
—Look at him! he said. Did you ever see such a go-by-the-wall?
His phrase was greeted by a strange laugh from a student who lounged against the wall, his
peaked cap down on his eyes. The laugh, pitched in a high key and coming from a so
muscular frame, seemed like the whinny of an elephant. The student’s body shook all over
and, to ease his mirth, he rubbed both his hands delightedly, over his groins.
—Lynch is awake, said Cranly.
Lynch, for answer, straightened himself and thrust forward his chest.
—Lynch puts out his chest, said Stephen, as a criticism of life.
Lynch smote himself sonorously on the chest and said:
—Who has anything to say about my girth?
Cranly took him at the word and the two began to tussle. When their faces had flushed with
the struggle they drew apart, panting. Stephen bent down towards Davin who, intent on the
game, had paid no heed to the talk of the others.
—And how is my little tame goose? he asked. Did he sign too?
Davin nodded and said:
—And you, Stevie?
Stephen shook his head.
—You’re a terrible man, Stevie, said Davin, taking the short pipe from his mouth. Always
alone.
—Now that you have signed the petition for universal peace, said Stephen, I suppose you
will burn that little copybook I saw in your room.
As Davin did not answer Stephen began to quote:
—Long pace, fianna! Right incline, fianna! Fianna, by numbers, salute, one, two!
—That’s a different question, said Davin. I’m an Irish nationalist, first and foremost. But
that’s you all out. You’re a born sneerer, Stevie.
—When you make the next rebellion with hurleysticks, said Stephen, and want theindispensable informer, tell me. I can find you a few in this college.
—I can’t understand you, said Davin. One time I hear you talk against English literature.
Now you talk against the Irish informers. What with your name and your ideas … Are you Irish
at all?
—Come with me now to the office of arms and I will show you the tree of my family, said
Stephen.
—Then be one of us, said Davin. Why don’t you learn Irish? Why did you drop out of the
league class after the first lesson?
—You know one reason why, answered Stephen.
Davin tossed his head and laughed.
—O, come now, he said. Is it on account of that certain young lady and Father Moran? But
that’s all in your own mind, Stevie. They were only talking and laughing.
Stephen paused and laid a friendly hand upon Davin’s shoulder.
—Do you remember, he said, when we knew each other first? The first morning we met you
asked me to show you the way to the matriculation class, putting a very strong stress on the
first syllable. You remember? Then you used to address the jesuits as father, you remember? I
ask myself about you: Is he as innocent as his speech?
—I’m a simple person, said Davin. You know that. When you told me that night in Harcourt
Street those things about your private life, honest to God, Stevie, I was not able to eat my
dinner. I was quite bad. I was awake a long time that night. Why did you tell me those things?
—Thanks, said Stephen. You mean I am a monster.
—No, said Davin, but I wish you had not told me.
A tide began to surge beneath the calm surface of Stephen’s friendliness.
—This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I
am.
—Try to be one of us, repeated Davin. In your heart you are an Irishman but your pride is too
powerful.
—My ancestors threw off their language and took another, Stephen said. They allowed a
handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my own life and
person debts they made? What for?
—For our freedom, said Davin.
—No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth
and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell but you sold him to the enemy or
failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you.
I’d see you damned first.
—They died for their ideals, Stevie, said Davin. Our day will come yet, believe me.
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant.
—The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and
dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this
country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality,
language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.
Davin knocked the ashes from his pipe.
—Too deep for me, Stevie, he said. But a man’s country comes first. Ireland first, Stevie. You
can be a poet or mystic after.
—Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow
that eats her farrow.
Davin rose from his box and went towards the players, shaking his head sadly. But in a
moment his sadness left him and he was hotly disputing with Cranly and the two players who
had finished their game. A match of four was arranged, Cranly insisting, however, that his ball
should be used. He let it rebound twice or thrice to his hand and struck it strongly and swiftly
towards the base of the alley, exclaiming in answer to its thud:
—Your soul!
Stephen stood with Lynch till the score began to rise. Then he plucked him by the sleeve tocome away. Lynch obeyed, saying:
—Let us eke go, as Cranly has it.
Stephen smiled at this sidethrust. They passed back through the garden and out through
the hall where the doddering porter was pinning up a notice in the frame. At the foot of the
steps they halted and Stephen took a packet of cigarettes from his pocket and offered it to his
companion.
—I know you are poor, he said.
—Damn your yellow insolence, answered Lynch.
This second proof of Lynch’s culture made Stephen smile again.
—It was a great day for European culture, he said, when you made up your mind to swear in
yellow.
They lit their cigarettes and turned to the right. After a pause Stephen began:
—Aristotle has not defined pity and terror. I have. I say …
Lynch halted and said bluntly:
—Stop! I won’t listen! I am sick. I was out last night on a yellow drunk with Horan and
Goggins.
Stephen went on:
—Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and
constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer. Terror is the feeling
which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human
sufferings and unites it with the secret cause.
—Repeat, said Lynch.
Stephen repeated the definitions slowly.
—A girl got into a hansom a few days ago, he went on, in London. She was on her way to
meet her mother whom she had not seen for many years. At the corner of a street the shaft of a
lorry shivered the window of the hansom in the shape of a star. A long fine needle of the
shivered glass pierced her heart. She died on the instant. The reporter called it a tragic death.
It is not. It is remote from terror and pity according to the terms of my definitions.
—The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, towards terror and towards pity,
both of which are phases of it. You see I use the word arrest. I mean that the tragic emotion is
static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic,
desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to
abandon, to go from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them,
pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I use the
general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.
—You say that art must not excite desire, said Lynch. I told you that one day I wrote my
name in pencil on the backside of the Venus of Praxiteles in the Museum. Was that not desire?
—I speak of normal natures, said Stephen. You also told me that when you were a boy in
that charming carmelite school you ate pieces of dried cowdung.
Lynch broke again into a whinny of laughter and again rubbed both his hands over his
groins but without taking them from his pockets.
—O I did! I did! he cried.
Stephen turned towards his companion and looked at him for a moment boldly in the eyes.
Lynch, recovering from his laughter, answered his look from his humbled eyes. The long
slender flattened skull beneath the long pointed cap brought before Stephen’s mind the
image of a hooded reptile. The eyes, too, were reptilelike in glint and gaze. Yet at that instant,
humbled and alert in their look, they were lit by one tiny human point, the window of a
shrivelled soul, poignant and selfembittered.
—As for that, Stephen said in polite parenthesis, we are all animals. I also am an animal.
—You are, said Lynch.
—But we are just now in a mental world, Stephen continued. The desire and loathing
excited by improper esthetic means are really unesthetic emotions not only because they are
kinetic in character but also because they are not more than physical. Our flesh shrinks fromwhat it dreads and responds to the stimulus of what it desires by a purely reflex action of the
nervous system. Our eyelid closes before we are aware that the fly is about to enter our eye.
—Not always, said Lynch critically.
—In the same way, said Stephen, your flesh responded to the stimulus of a naked statue but
it was, I say, simply a reflex action of the nerves. Beauty expressed by the artist cannot awaken
in us an emotion which is kinetic or a sensation which is purely physical. It awakens, or ought
to awaken, or induces, or ought to induce, an esthetic stasis, an ideal pity or an ideal terror, a
stasis called forth, prolonged and at last dissolved by what I call the rhythm of beauty.
—What is that exactly? asked Lynch.
—Rhythm, said Stephen, is the first formal esthetic relation of part to part in any esthetic
whole or of an esthetic whole to its part or parts or of any part to the esthetic whole of which it
is a part.
—If that is rhythm, said Lynch, let me hear what you call beauty: and, please remember,
though I did eat a cake of cowdung once, that I admire only beauty.
Stephen raised his cap as if in greeting. Then, blushing slightly, he laid his hand on Lynch’s
thick tweed sleeve.
—We are right, he said, and the others are wrong. To speak of these things and to try to
understand their nature and, having understood it, to try slowly and humbly and constantly to
express, to press out again, from the gross earth or what it brings forth, from sound and shape
and colour which are the prison gates of our soul, an image of the beauty we have come to
understand—that is art.
They had reached the canal bridge and, turning from their course, went on by the trees. A
crude grey light, mirrored in the sluggish water, and a smell of wet branches over their heads
seemed to war against the course of Stephen’s thought.
—But you have not answered my question, said Lynch. What is art? What is the beauty it
expresses?
—That was the first definition I gave you, you sleepyheaded wretch, said Stephen, when I
began to try to think out the matter for myself. Do you remember the night? Cranly lost his
temper and began to talk about Wicklow bacon.
—I remember, said Lynch. He told us about them flaming fat devils of pigs.
—Art, said Stephen, is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an
esthetic end. You remember the pigs and forget that. You are a distressing pair, you and
Cranly.
Lynch made a grimace at the raw grey sky and said:
—If I am to listen to your esthetic philosophy give me at least another cigarette. I don’t care
about it. I don’t even care about women. Damn you and damn everything. I want a job of five
hundred a year. You can’t get me one.
Stephen handed him the packet of cigarettes. Lynch took the last one that remained, saying
simply:
—Proceed!
—Aquinas, said Stephen, says that is beautiful the apprehension of which pleases.
Lynch nodded.
—I remember that, he said. Pulcra sunt quæ visa placent.
—He uses the word visa, said Stephen, to cover esthetic apprehensions of all kinds, whether
through sight or hearing or through any other avenue of apprehension. This word, though it
is vague, is clear enough to keep away good and evil which excite desire and loathing. It means
certainly a stasis and not a kinesis. How about the true? It produces also a stasis of the mind.
You would not write your name in pencil across the hypothenuse of a rightangled triangle.
—No, said Lynch, give me the hypothenuse of the Venus of Praxiteles.
—Static therefore, said Stephen. Plato, I believe, said that beauty is the splendour of truth. I
don’t think that it has a meaning but the true and the beautiful are akin. Truth is beheld by
the intellect which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible: beauty is
beheld by the imagination which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the sensible.The first step in the direction of truth is to understand the frame and scope of the intellect
itself, to comprehend the act itself of intellection. Aristotle’s entire system of philosophy rests
upon his book of psychology and that, I think, rests on his statement that the same attribute
cannot at the same time and in the same connection belong to and not belong to the same
subject. The first step in the direction of beauty is to understand the frame and scope of the
imagination, to comprehend the act itself of esthetic apprehension. Is that clear?
—But what is beauty? asked Lynch impatiently. Out with another definition. Something we
see and like! Is that the best you and Aquinas can do?
—Let us take woman, said Stephen.
—Let us take her! said Lynch fervently.
—The Greek, the Turk, the Chinese, the Copt, the Hottentot, said Stephen, all admire a
different type of female beauty. That seems to be a maze out of which we cannot escape. I see
however two ways out. One is this hypothesis: that every physical quality admired by men in
women is in direct connection with the manifold functions of women for the propagation of
the species. It may be so. The world, it seems, is drearier than even you, Lynch, imagined. For
my part I dislike that way out. It leads to eugenics rather than to esthetic. It leads you out of the
maze into a new gaudy lectureroom where MacCann, with one hand on The Origin of Species
and the other hand on the new testament, tells you that you admired the great flanks of Venus
because you felt that she would bear you burly offspring and admired her great breasts
because you felt that she would give good milk to her children and yours.
—Then MacCann is a sulphuryellow liar, said Lynch energetically.
—There remains another way out, said Stephen, laughing.
—To wit? said Lynch.
—This hypothesis, Stephen began.
A long dray laden with old iron came round the corner of sir Patrick Dun’s hospital covering
the end of Stephen’s speech with the harsh roar of jangled and rattling metal. Lynch closed
his ears and gave out oath after oath till the dray had passed. Then he turned on his heel
rudely. Stephen turned also and waited for a few moments till his companion’s illhumour had
had its vent.
—This hypothesis, Stephen repeated, is the other way out: that, though the same object may
not seem beautiful to all people, all people who admire a beautiful object find in it certain
relations which satisfy and coincide with the stages themselves of all esthetic apprehension.
These relations of the sensible, visible to you through one form and to me through another,
must be therefore the necessary qualities of beauty. Now, we can return to our old friend saint
Thomas for another pennyworth of wisdom.
Lynch laughed.
—It amuses me vastly, he said, to hear you quoting him time after time like a jolly round
friar. Are you laughing in your sleeve?
—MacAlister, answered Stephen, would call my esthetic theory applied Aquinas. So far as
this side of esthetic philosophy extends Aquinas will carry me all along the line. When we
come to the phenomena of artistic conception, artistic gestation and artistic reproduction I
require a new terminology and a new personal experience.
—Of course, said Lynch. After all Aquinas, in spite of his intellect, was exactly a good round
friar. But you will tell me about the new personal experience and new terminology some other
day. Hurry up and finish the first part.
—Who knows? said Stephen, smiling. Perhaps Aquinas would understand me better than
you. He was a poet himself. He wrote a hymn for Maundy Thursday. It begins with the words
Pange lingua gloriosi. They say it is the highest glory of the hymnal. It is an intricate and
soothing hymn. I like it: but there is no hymn that can be put beside that mournful and
majestic processional song, the Vexilla Regis of Venantius Fortunatus.
Lynch began to sing softly and solemnly in a deep bass voice:
Impleta sunt quæ concinit
David fideli carmineDicendo nationibus
Regnavit a ligno Deus.
—That’s great! he said, well pleased. Great music!
They turned into Lower Mount Street. A few steps from the corner a fat young man, wearing
a silk neckcloth, saluted them and stopped.
—Did you hear the results of the exams? he asked. Griffin was plucked. Halpin and O’Flynn
are through the home civil. Moonan got fifth place in the Indian. O’Shaughnessy got
fourteenth. The Irish fellows in Clarke’s gave them a feed last night. They all ate curry.
His pallid bloated face expressed benevolent malice and, as he had advanced through his
tidings of success, his small fatencircled eyes vanished out of sight and his weak wheezing
voice out of hearing.
In reply to a question of Stephen’s his eyes and his voice came forth again from their
lurkingplaces.
—Yes, MacCullagh and I, he said. He’s taking pure mathematics and I’m taking
constitutional history. There are twenty subjects. I’m taking botany too. You know I’m a
member of the field club.
He drew back from the other two in a stately fashion and placed a plump woollengloved
hand on his breast, from which muttered wheezing laughter at once broke forth.
—Bring us a few turnips and onions the next time you go out, said Stephen drily, to make a
stew.
The fat student laughed indulgently and said:
—We are all highly respectable people in the field club. Last Saturday we went out to
Glenmalure, seven of us.
—With women, Donovan? said Lynch.
Donovan again laid his hand on his chest and said:
—Our end is the acquisition of knowledge.
Then he said quickly:
—I hear you are writing some essay about esthetics.
Stephen made a vague gesture of denial.
—Goethe and Lessing, said Donovan, have written a lot on that subject, the classical school
and the romantic school and all that. The Laocoon interested me very much when I read it. Of
course it is idealistic, German, ultraprofound.
Neither of the others spoke. Donovan took leave of them urbanely.
—I must go, he said softly and benevolently. I have a strong suspicion, amounting almost to
a conviction, that my sister intended to make pancakes today for the dinner of the Donovan
family.
—Goodbye, Stephen said in his wake. Don’t forget the turnips for me and my mate.
Lynch gazed after him, his lip curling in slow scorn till his face resembled a devil’s mask:
—To think that that yellow pancakeeating excrement can get a good job, he said at length,
and I have to smoke cheap cigarettes!
They turned their faces towards Merrion Square and went on for a little in silence.
—To finish what I was saying about beauty, said Stephen, the most satisfying relations of
the sensible must therefore correspond to the necessary phases of artistic apprehension. Find
these and you find the qualities of universal beauty. Aquinas says: ad pulcritudinem tria
requiruntur, integritas, consonantia, claritas. I translate it so: Three things are needed for beauty,
wholeness, harmony and radiance. Do these correspond to the phases of apprehension? Are you
following?
—Of course, I am, said Lynch. If you think I have an excrementitious intelligence run after
Donovan and ask him to listen to you.
Stephen pointed to a basket which a butcher’s boy had slung inverted on his head.
—Look at that basket, he said.
—I see it, said Lynch.
—In order to see that basket, said Stephen, your mind first of all separates the basket fromthe rest of the visible universe which is not the basket. The first phase of apprehension is a
bounding line drawn about the object to be apprehended. An esthetic image is presented to us
either in space or in time. What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in
space. But, temporal or spatial, the esthetic image is first luminously apprehended as
selfbounded and selfcontained upon the immeasurable background of space or time which is
not it. You apprehend it as one thing. You see it as one whole. You apprehend its wholeness.
That is integritas.
—Bull’s eye! said Lynch, laughing. Go on.
—Then, said Stephen, you pass from point to point, led by its formal lines; you apprehend it
as balanced part against part within its limits; you feel the rhythm of its structure. In other
words the synthesis of immediate perception is followed by the analysis of apprehension.
Having first felt that it is one thing you feel now that it is a thing. You apprehend it as complex,
multiple, divisible, separable, made up of its parts, the result of its parts and their sum,
harmonious. That is consonantia.
—Bull’s eye again! said Lynch wittily. Tell me now what is claritas and you win the cigar.
—The connotation of the word, Stephen said, is rather vague. Aquinas uses a term which
seems to be inexact. It baffled me for a long time. It would lead you to believe that he had in
mind symbolism or idealism, the supreme quality of beauty being a light from some other
world, the idea of which the matter is but the shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol.
I thought he might mean that claritas is the artistic discovery and representation of the divine
purpose in anything or a force of generalisation which would make the esthetic image a
universal one, make it outshine its proper conditions. But that is literary talk. I understand it
so. When you have apprehended that basket as one thing and have then analysed it according
to its form and apprehended it as a thing you make the only synthesis which is logically and
esthetically permissible. You see that it is that thing which it is and no other thing. The
radiance of which he speaks is the scholastic quidditas, the whatness of a thing. This supreme
quality is felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his imagination. The
mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. The instant
wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is
apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and
fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state
very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani, using a phrase
almost as beautiful as Shelley’s, called the enchantment of the heart.
Stephen paused and, though his companion did not speak, felt that his words had called up
around them a thoughtenchanted silence.
—What I have said, he began again, refers to beauty in the wider sense of the word, in the
sense which the word has in the literary tradition. In the marketplace it has another sense.
When we speak of beauty in the second sense of the term our judgment is influenced in the
first place by the art itself and by the form of that art. The image, it is clear, must be set
between the mind or senses of the artist himself and the mind or senses of others. If you bear
this in memory you will see that art necessarily divides itself into three forms progressing from
one to the next. These forms are: the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his
image in immediate relation to himself; the epical form, the form wherein he presents his
image in mediate relation to himself and to others; the dramatic form, the form wherein he
presents his image in immediate relation to others.
—That you told me a few nights ago, said Lynch, and we began the famous discussion.
—I have a book at home, said Stephen, in which I have written down questions which are
more amusing than yours were. In finding the answers to them I found the theory of esthetic
which I am trying to explain. Here are some questions I set myself: Is a chair finely made tragic
or comic? Is the portrait of Mona Lisa good if I desire to see it? Is the bust of Sir Philip Crampton
lyrical, epical or dramatic? Can excrement or a child or a louse be a work of art? If not, why not?
—Why not, indeed? said Lynch, laughing.
—If a man hacking in fury at a block of wood, Stephen continued, make there an image of a cow,is that image a work of art? If not, why not?
—That’s a lovely one, said Lynch, laughing again. That has the true scholastic stink.
—Lessing, said Stephen, should not have taken a group of statues to write of. The art, being
inferior, does not present the forms I spoke of distinguished clearly one from another. Even in
literature, the highest and most spiritual art, the forms are often confused. The lyrical form is
in fact the simplest verbal vesture of an instant of emotion, a rhythmical cry such as ages ago
cheered on the man who pulled at the oar or dragged stones up a slope. He who utters it is
more conscious of the instant of emotion than of himself as feeling emotion. The simplest
epical form is seen emerging out of lyrical literature when the artist prolongs and broods
upon himself as the centre of an epical event and this form progresses till the centre of
emotional gravity is equidistant from the artist himself and from others. The narrative is no
longer purely personal. The personality of the artist passes into the narration itself, flowing
round and round the persons and the action like a vital sea. This progress you will see easily in
that old English ballad Turpin Hero which begins in the first person and ends in the third
person. The dramatic form is reached when the vitality which has flowed and eddied round
each person fills every person with such vital force that he or she assumes a proper and
intangible esthetic life. The personality of the artist, at first a cry or a cadence or a mood and
then a fluid and lambent narrative, finally refines itself out of existence, impersonalises itself,
so to speak. The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from
the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic like that of material creation is
accomplished. The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or
above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
—Trying to refine them also out of existence, said Lynch.
A fine rain began to fall from the high veiled sky and they turned into the duke’s lawn, to
reach the national library before the shower came.
—What do you mean, Lynch asked surlily, by prating about beauty and the imagination in
this miserable Godforsaken island? No wonder the artist retired within or behind his
handiwork after having perpetrated this country.
The rain fell faster. When they passed through the passage beside the royal Irish academy
they found many students sheltering under the arcade of the library. Cranly, leaning against a
pillar, was picking his teeth with a sharpened match, listening to some companions. Some
girls stood near the entrance door. Lynch whispered to Stephen:
—Your beloved is here.
Stephen took his place silently on the step below the group of students, heedless of the rain
which fell fast, turning his eyes towards her from time to time. She too stood silently among
her companions. She has no priest to flirt with, he thought with conscious bitterness,
remembering how he had seen her last. Lynch was right. His mind, emptied of theory and
courage, lapsed back into a listless peace.
He heard the students talking among themselves. They spoke of two friends who had
passed the final medical examination, of the chances of getting places on ocean liners, of
poor and rich practices.
—That’s all a bubble. An Irish country practice is better.
—Hynes was two years in Liverpool and he says the same. A frightful hole he said it was.
Nothing but midwifery cases. Half a crown cases.
—Do you mean to say it is better to have a job here in the country than in a rich city like
that? I know a fellow …
—Hynes has no brains. He got through by stewing, pure stewing.
—Don’t mind him. There’s plenty of money to be made in a big commercial city.
—Depends on the practice.
—Ego credo ut vita pauperum est simpliciter atrox, simpliciter sanguinarius atrox, in Liverpoolio.
Their voices reached his ears as if from a distance in interrupted pulsation. She was
preparing to go away with her companions.
The quick light shower had drawn off, tarrying in clusters of diamonds among the shrubsof the quadrangle where an exhalation was breathed forth by the blackened earth. Their trim
boots prattled as they stood on the steps of the colonnade, talking quietly and gaily, glancing
at the clouds, holding their umbrellas at cunning angles against the few last raindrops,
closing them again, holding their skirts demurely.
And if he had judged her harshly? If her life were a simple rosary of hours, her life simple
and strange as a bird’s life, gay in the morning, restless all day, tired at sundown? Her heart
simple and wilful as a bird’s heart?
* * *
Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet. Over his limbs in
sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters,
conscious of faint sweet music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning
knowledge, a morning inspiration. A spirit filled him, pure as the purest water, sweet as dew,
moving as music. But how faintly it was inbreathed, how passionlessly, as if the seraphim
themselves were breathing upon him! His soul was waking slowly, fearing to awake wholly. It
was that windless hour of dawn when madness wakes and strange plants open to the light
and the moth flies forth silently.
An enchantment of the heart! The night had been enchanted. In a dream or vision he had
known the ecstasy of seraphic life. Was it an instant of enchantment only or long hours and
days and years and ages?
The instant of inspiration seemed now to be reflected from all sides at once from a
multitude of cloudy circumstance of what had happened or of what might have happened.
The instant flashed forth like a point of light and now from cloud on cloud of vague
circumstance confused form was veiling softly its afterglow. O! In the virgin womb of the
imagination the word was made flesh. Gabriel the seraph had come to the virgin’s chamber.
An afterglow deepened within his spirit, whence the white flame had passed, deepening to a
rose and ardent light. That rose and ardent light was her strange wilful heart, strange that no
man had known or would know, wilful from before the beginning of the world: and lured by
that ardent roselike glow the choirs of the seraphim were falling from heaven.
Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
The verses passed from his mind to his lips and, murmuring them over, he felt the rhythmic
movement of a villanelle pass through them. The roselike glow sent forth its rays of rhyme;
ways, days, blaze, praise, raise. Its rays burned up the world, consumed the hearts of men and
angels: the rays from the rose that was her wilful heart.
Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
And then? The rhythm died away, ceased, began again to move and beat. And then? Smoke,
incense ascending from the altar of the world.
Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Smoke went up from the whole earth, from the vapoury oceans, smoke of her praise. The
earth was like a swinging smoking swaying censer, a ball of incense, an ellipsoidal ball. The
rhythm died out at once; the cry of his heart was broken. His lips began to murmur the first
verses over and over; then went on stumbling through half verses, stammering and baffled;
then stopped. The heart’s cry was broken.
The veiled windless hour had passed and behind the panes of the naked window the
morning light was gathering. A bell beat faintly very far away. A bird twittered; two birds, three.The bell and the bird ceased: and the dull white light spread itself east and west, covering the
world, covering the roselight in his heart.
Fearing to lose all, he raised himself suddenly on his elbow to look for paper and pencil.
There was neither on the table; only the soupplate he had eaten the rice from for supper and
the candlestick with its tendrils of tallow and its paper socket, singed by the last flame. He
stretched his arm wearily towards the foot of the bed, groping with his hand in the pockets of
the coat that hung there. His fingers found a pencil and then a cigarette packet. He lay back
and, tearing open the packet, placed the last cigarette on the windowledge and began to write
out the stanzas of the villanelle in small neat letters on the rough cardboard surface.
Having written them out he lay back on the lumpy pillow, murmuring them again. The
lumps of knotted flock under his head reminded him of the lumps of knotted horsehair in the
sofa of her parlour on which he used to sit, smiling or serious, asking himself why he had
come, displeased with her and with himself, confounded by the print of the Sacred Heart
above the untenanted sideboard. He saw her approach him in a lull of the talk and beg him to
sing one of his curious songs. Then he saw himself sitting at the old piano, striking chords
softly from its speckled keys and singing, amid the talk which had risen again in the room, to
her who leaned beside the mantelpiece a dainty song of the Elizabethans, a sad and sweet loth
to depart, the victory chant of Agincourt, the happy air of Greensleeves. While he sang and she
listened, or feigned to listen, his heart was at rest but when the quaint old songs had ended
and he heard again the voices in the room he remembered his own sarcasm: the house where
young men are called by their christian names a little too soon.
At certain instants her eyes seemed about to trust him but he had waited in vain. She passed
now dancing lightly across his memory as she had been that night at the carnival ball, her
white dress a little lifted, a white spray nodding in her hair. She danced lightly in the round.
She was dancing towards him and, as she came, her eyes were a little averted and a faint glow
was on her cheek. At the pause in the chain of hands her hand had lain in his an instant, a soft
merchandise.
—You are a great stranger now.
—Yes. I was born to be a monk.
—I am afraid you are a heretic.
—Are you much afraid?
For answer she had danced away from him along the chain of hands, dancing lightly and
discreetly, giving herself to none. The white spray nodded to her dancing and when she was in
shadow the glow was deeper on her cheek.
A monk! His own image started forth a profaner of the cloister, a heretic Franciscan, willing
and willing not to serve, spinning like Gherardino da Borgo San Donnino, a lithe web of
sophistry and whispering in her ear.
No, it was not his image. It was like the image of the young priest in whose company he had
seen her last, looking at him out of dove’s eyes, toying with the pages of her Irish phrasebook.
—Yes, yes, the ladies are coming round to us. I can see it every day. The ladies are with us.
The best helpers the language has.
—And the church, Father Moran?
—The church too. Coming round too. The work is going ahead there too. Don’t fret about
the church.
Bah! he had done well to leave the room in disdain. He had done well not to salute her on
the steps of the library. He had done well to leave her to flirt with her priest, to toy with a
church which was the scullerymaid of christendom.
Rude brutal anger routed the last lingering instant of ecstasy from his soul. It broke up
violently her fair image and flung the fragments on all sides. On all sides distorted reflections
of her image started from his memory: the flowergirl in the ragged dress with damp coarse
hair and a hoyden’s face who had called herself his own girl and begged his handsel, the
kitchengirl in the next house who sang over the clatter of her plates with the drawl of a
country singer the first bars of By Killarney’s Lakes and Fells, a girl who had laughed gaily to seehim stumble when the iron grating in the footpath near Cork Hill had caught the broken sole
of his shoe, a girl he had glanced at, attracted by her small ripe mouth as she passed out of
Jacob’s biscuit factory, who had cried to him over her shoulder:
—Do you like what you seen of me, straight hair and curly eyebrows?
And yet he felt that, however he might revile and mock her image, his anger was also a form
of homage. He had left the classroom in disdain that was not wholly sincere, feeling that
perhaps the secret of her race lay behind those dark eyes upon which her long lashes flung a
quick shadow. He had told himself bitterly as he walked through the streets that she was a
figure of the womanhood of her country, a batlike soul waking to the consciousness of itself
in darkness and secrecy and loneliness, tarrying awhile, loveless and sinless, with her mild
lover and leaving him to whisper of innocent transgressions in the latticed ear of a priest. His
anger against her found vent in coarse railing at her paramour, whose name and voice and
features offended his baffled pride: a priested peasant, with a brother a policeman in Dublin
and a brother a potboy in Moycullen. To him she would unveil her soul’s shy nakedness, to
one who was but schooled in the discharging of a formal rite rather than to him, a priest of
eternal imagination, transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of
everliving life.
The radiant image of the eucharist united again in an instant his bitter and despairing
thoughts, their cries arising unbroken in a hymn of thanksgiving.
Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim,
Tell no more of enchanted days.
He spoke the verses aloud from the first lines till the music and rhythm suffused his mind,
turning it to quiet indulgence; then copied them painfully to feel them the better by seeing
them; then lay back on his bolster.
The full morning light had come. No sound was to be heard: but he knew that all around
him life was about to awaken in common noises, hoarse voices, sleepy prayers. Shrinking
from that life he turned towards the wall, making a cowl of the blanket and staring at the great
overblown scarlet flowers of the tattered wallpaper. He tried to warm his perishing joy in their
scarlet glow, imagining a roseway from where he lay upwards to heaven all strewn with scarlet
flowers. Weary! Weary! He too was weary of ardent ways.
A gradual warmth, a languorous weariness passed over him, descending along his spine
from his closely cowled head. He felt it descend and, seeing himself as he lay, smiled. Soon he
would sleep.
He had written verses for her again after ten years. Ten years before she had worn her shawl
cowlwise about her head, sending sprays of her warm breath into the night air, tapping her
foot upon the glassy road. It was the last tram; the lank brown horses knew it and shook their
bells to the clear night in admonition. The conductor talked with the driver, both nodding
often in the green light of the lamp. They stood on the steps of the tram, he on the upper, she
on the lower. She came up to his step many times between their phrases and went down again
and once or twice remained beside him forgetting to go down and then went down. Let be! Let
be!
Ten years from that wisdom of children to his folly. If he sent her the verses? They would be
read out at breakfast amid the tapping of eggshells. Folly indeed! The brothers would laugh
and try to wrest the page from each other with their strong hard fingers. The suave priest, her
uncle, seated in his armchair, would hold the page at arm’s length, read it smiling and
approve of the literary form.
No, no: that was folly. Even if he sent her the verses she would not show them to others. No,
no: she could not.He began to feel that he had wronged her. A sense of her innocence moved him almost to
pity her, an innocence he had never understood till he had come to the knowledge of it
through sin, an innocence which she too had not understood while she was innocent or
before the strange humiliation of her nature had first come upon her. Then first her soul had
begun to live as his soul had when he had first sinned: and a tender compassion filled his
heart as he remembered her frail pallor and her eyes, humbled and saddened by the dark
shame of womanhood.
While his soul had passed from ecstasy to languor where had she been? Might it be, in the
mysterious ways of spiritual life, that her soul at those same moments had been conscious of
his homage? It might be.
A glow of desire kindled again his soul and fired and fulfilled all his body. Conscious of his
desire she was waking from odorous sleep, the temptress of his villanelle. Her eyes, dark and
with a look of languor, were opening to his eyes. Her nakedness yielded to him, radiant, warm,
odorous and lavishlimbed, enfolded him like a shining cloud, enfolded him like water with a
liquid life: and like a cloud of vapour or like waters circumfluent in space the liquid letters of
speech, symbols of the element of mystery, flowed forth over his brain.
Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim,
Tell no more of enchanted days.
And still you hold our longing gaze
With languorous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
* * *
What birds were they? He stood on the steps of the library to look at them, leaning wearily
on his ashplant. They flew round and round the jutting shoulder of a house in Molesworth
Street. The air of the late March evening made clear their flight, their dark darting quivering
bodies flying clearly against the sky as against a limphung cloth of smoky tenuous blue.
He watched their flight; bird after bird: a dark flash, a swerve, a flash again, a dart aside, a
curve, a flutter of wings. He tried to count them before all their darting quivering bodies
passed: six, ten, eleven: and wondered were they odd or even in number. Twelve, thirteen: for
two came wheeling down from the upper sky. They were flying high and low but ever round
and round in straight and curving lines and ever flying from left to right, circling about a
temple of air.
He listened to the cries: like the squeak of mice behind the wainscot: a shrill twofold note.
But the notes were long and shrill and whirring, unlike the cry of vermin, falling a third or a
fourth and trilled as the flying beaks clove the air. Their cry was shrill and clear and fine and
falling like threads of silken light unwound from whirring spools.The inhuman clamour soothed his ears in which his mother’s sobs and reproaches
murmured insistently and the dark frail quivering bodies wheeling and fluttering and
swerving round an airy temple of the tenuous sky soothed his eyes which still saw the image of
his mother’s face.
Why was he gazing upwards from the steps of the porch, hearing their shrill twofold cry,
watching their flight? For an augury of good or evil? A phrase of Cornelius Agrippa flew
through his mind and then there flew hither and thither shapeless thoughts from
Swedenborg on the correspondence of birds to things of the intellect and of how the creatures
of the air have their knowledge and know their times and seasons because they, unlike man,
are in the order of their life and have not perverted that order by reason.
And for ages men had gazed upward as he was gazing at birds in flight. The colonnade
above him made him think vaguely of an ancient temple and the ashplant on which he leaned
wearily of the curved stick of an augur. A sense of fear of the unknown moved in the heart of
his weariness, a fear of symbols and portents, of the hawklike man whose name he bore
soaring out of his captivity on osierwoven wings, of Thoth, the god of writers, writing with a
reed upon a tablet and bearing on his narrow ibis head the cusped moon.
He smiled as he thought of the god’s image for it made him think of a bottlenosed judge in
a wig, putting commas into a document which he held at arm’s length and he knew that he
would not have remembered the god’s name but that it was like an Irish oath. It was folly. But
was it for this folly that he was about to leave for ever the house of prayer and prudence into
which he had been born and the order of life out of which he had come?
They came back with shrill cries over the jutting shoulder of the house, flying darkly against
the fading air. What birds were they? He thought that they must be swallows who had come
back from the south. Then he was to go away for they were birds ever going and coming,
building ever an unlasting home under the eaves of men’s houses and ever leaving the homes
they had built to wander.
Bend down your faces, Oona and Aleel,
I gaze upon them as the swallow gazes
Upon the nest under the eave before
He wander the loud waters.
A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his
heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence,
of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.
A soft liquid joy flowed through the words where the soft long vowels hurtled noiselessly
and fell away, lapping and flowing back and ever shaking the white bells of their waves in
mute chime and mute peal and soft low swooning cry; and he felt that the augury he had
sought in the wheeling darting birds and in the pale space of sky above him had come forth
from his heart like a bird from a turret quietly and swiftly.
Symbol of departure or of loneliness? The verses crooned in the ear of his memory
composed slowly before his remembering eyes the scene of the hall on the night of the
opening of the national theatre. He was alone at the side of the balcony, looking out of jaded
eyes at the culture of Dublin in the stalls and at the tawdry scenecloths and human dolls
framed by the garish lamps of the stage. A burly policeman sweated behind him and seemed
at every moment about to act. The catcalls and hisses and mocking cries ran in rude gusts
round the hall from his scattered fellowstudents.
—A libel on Ireland!
—Made in Germany!
—Blasphemy!
—We never sold our faith!
—No Irish woman ever did it!
—We want no amateur atheists.
—We want no budding buddhists.
A sudden swift hiss fell from the windows above him and he knew that the electric lampshad been switched on in the reader’s room. He turned into the pillared hall, now calmly lit,
went up the staircase and passed in through the clicking turnstile.
Cranly was sitting over near the dictionaries. A thick book, opened at the frontispiece, lay
before him on the wooden rest. He leaned back in his chair, inclining his ear like that of a
confessor to the face of the medical student who was reading to him a problem from the
chess page of a journal. Stephen sat down at his right and the priest at the other side of the
table closed his copy of The Tablet with an angry snap and stood up.
Cranly gazed after him blandly and vaguely. The medical student went on in a softer voice:
—Pawn to king’s fourth.
—We had better go, Dixon, said Stephen in warning. He has gone to complain.
Dixon folded the journal and rose with dignity, saying:
—Our men retired in good order.
—With guns and cattle, added Stephen, pointing to the titlepage of Cranly’s book on which
was printed Diseases of the Ox.
As they passed through a lane of the tables Stephen said:
—Cranly, I want to speak to you.
Cranly did not answer or turn. He laid his book on the counter and passed out, his wellshod
feet sounding flatly on the floor. On the staircase he paused and gazing absently at Dixon
repeated:
—Pawn to king’s bloody fourth.
—Put it that way if you like, Dixon said.
He had a quiet toneless voice and urbane manners and on a finger of his plump clean hand
he displayed at moments a signet ring.
As they crossed the hall a man of dwarfish stature came towards them. Under the dome of
his tiny hat his unshaven face began to smile with pleasure and he was heard to murmur. The
eyes were melancholy as those of a monkey.
—Good evening, captain, said Cranly, halting.
—Good evening, gentlemen, said the stubblegrown monkeyish face.
—Warm weather for March, said Cranly. They have the windows open upstairs.
Dixon smiled and turned his ring. The blackish monkey-puckered face pursed its human
mouth with gentle pleasure: and its voice purred:
—Delightful weather for March. Simply delightful.
—There are two nice young ladies upstairs, captain, tired of waiting, Dixon said.
Cranly smiled and said kindly:
—The captain has only one love: sir Walter Scott. Isn’t that so, captain?
—What are you reading now, captain? Dixon asked. The Bride of Lammermoor?
—I love old Scott, the flexible lips said. I think he writes something lovely. There is no writer
can touch sir Walter Scott.
He moved a thin shrunken brown hand gently in the air in time to his praise and his thin
quick eyelids beat often over his sad eyes.
Sadder to Stephen’s ear was his speech: a genteel accent, low and moist, marred by errors:
and listening to it he wondered was the story true and was the thin blood that flowed in his
shrunken frame noble and come of an incestuous love?
The park trees were heavy with rain and rain fell still and ever in the lake, lying grey like a
shield. A game of swans flew there and the water and the shore beneath were fouled with their
greenwhite slime. They embraced softly, impelled by the grey rainy light, the wet silent trees,
the shieldlike witnessing lake, the swans. They embraced without joy or passion, his arm
about his sister’s neck. A grey woollen cloak was wrapped athwart her from her shoulder to
her waist: and her fair head was bent in willing shame. He had loose redbrown hair and
tender shapely strong freckled hands. Face. There was no face seen. The brother’s face was
bent upon her fair rainfragrant hair. The hand freckled and strong and shapely and caressing
was Davin’s hand.
He frowned angrily upon his thought and on the shrivelled mannikin who had called itforth. His father’s gibes at the Bantry gang leaped out of his memory. He held them at a
distance and brooded uneasily on his own thought again. Why were they not Cranly’s hands?
Had Davin’s simplicity and innocence stung him more secretly?
He walked on across the hall with Dixon, leaving Cranly to take leave elaborately of the
dwarf.
Under the colonnade Temple was standing in the midst of a little group of students. One of
them cried:
—Dixon, come over till you hear. Temple is in grand form.
Temple turned on him his dark gipsy eyes.
—You’re a hypocrite, O’Keeffe, he said, and Dixon’s a smiler. By hell, I think that’s a good
literary expression.
He laughed slily, looking in Stephen’s face, repeating:
—By hell, I’m delighted with that name. A smiler.
A stout student who stood below them on the steps said:
—Come back to the mistress, Temple. We want to hear about that.
—He had, faith, Temple said. And he was a married man too. And all the priests used to be
dining there. By hell, I think they all had a touch.
—We shall call it riding a hack to spare the hunter, said Dixon.
—Tell us, Temple, O’Keeffe said, how many quarts of porter have you in you?
—All your intellectual soul is in that phrase, O’Keeffe, said Temple with open scorn.
He moved with a shambling gait round the group and spoke to Stephen.
—Did you know that the Forsters are the kings of Belgium? he asked.
Cranly came out through the door of the entrance hall, his hat thrust back on the nape of
his neck and picking his teeth with care.
—And here’s the wiseacre, said Temple. Do you know that about the Forsters?
He paused for an answer. Cranly dislodged a figseed from his teeth on the point of his rude
toothpick and gazed at it intently.
—The Forster family, Temple said, is descended from Baldwin the First, king of Flanders.
He was called the Forester. Forester and Forster are the same name. A descendant of Baldwin
the First, captain Francis Forster, settled in Ireland and married the daughter of the last
chieftain of Clanbrassil. Then there are the Blake Forsters. That’s a different branch.
—From Baldhead, king of Flanders, Cranly repeated, rooting again deliberately at his
gleaming uncovered teeth.
—Where did you pick up all that history? O’Keeffe asked.
—I know all the history of your family too, Temple said, turning to Stephen. Do you know
what Giraldus Cambrensis says about your family?
—Is he descended from Baldwin too? asked a tall consumptive student with dark eyes.
—Baldhead, Cranly repeated, sucking at a crevice in his teeth.
—Pernobilis et pervetusta familia, Temple said to Stephen.
The stout student who stood below them on the steps farted briefly. Dixon turned towards
him saying in a soft voice:
—Did an angel speak?
Cranly turned also and said vehemently but without anger:
—Goggins, you’re the flamingest dirty devil I ever met, do you know.
—I had it on my mind to say that, Goggins answered firmly. It did no one any harm, did it?
—We hope, Dixon said suavely, that it was not of the kind known to science as a paulo post
futurum.
—Didn’t I tell you he was a smiler? said Temple, turning right and left. Didn’t I give him that
name?
—You did. We’re not deaf, said the tall consumptive.
Cranly still frowned at the stout student below him. Then, with a snort of disgust, he shoved
him violently down the steps.
—Go away from here, he said rudely. Go away, you stinkpot. And you are a stinkpot.Goggins skipped down on to the gravel and at once returned to his place with good
humour. Temple turned back to Stephen and asked:
—Do you believe in the law of heredity?
—Are you drunk or what are you or what are you trying to say? asked Cranly, facing round
on him with an expression of wonder.
—The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with enthusiasm, is the sentence
at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death.
He touched Stephen timidly at the elbow and said eagerly:
—Do you feel how profound that is because you are a poet?
Cranly pointed his long forefinger.
—Look at him! he said with scorn to the others. Look at Ireland’s hope!
They laughed at his words and gesture. Temple turned on him bravely, saying:
—Cranly, you’re always sneering at me. I can see that. But I am as good as you any day. Do
you know what I think about you now as compared with myself?
—My dear man, said Cranly urbanely, you are incapable, do you know, absolutely incapable
of thinking.
—But do you know, Temple went on, what I think of you and of myself compared together?
—Out with it, Temple! the stout student cried from the steps. Get it out in bits!
Temple turned right and left, making sudden feeble gestures as he spoke.
—I’m a ballocks, he said, shaking his head in despair. I am. And I know I am. And I admit it
that I am.
Dixon patted him lightly on the shoulder and said mildly:
—And it does you every credit, Temple.
—But he, Temple said, pointing to Cranly. He is a ballocks too like me. Only he doesn’t
know it. And that’s the only difference, I see.
A burst of laughter covered his words. But he turned again to Stephen and said with a
sudden eagerness:
—That word is a most interesting word. That’s the only English dual number. Did you
know?
—Is it? Stephen said vaguely.
He was watching Cranly’s firmfeatured suffering face, lit up now by a smile of false
patience. The gross name had passed over it like foul water poured over an old stone image,
patient of injuries: and, as he watched him, he saw him raise his hat in salute and uncover the
black hair that stood up stiffly from his forehead like an iron crown.
She passed out from the porch of the library and bowed across Stephen in reply to Cranly’s
greeting. He also? Was there not a slight flush on Cranly’s cheek? Or had it come forth at
Temple’s words? The light had waned. He could not see.
Did that explain his friend’s listless silence, his harsh comments, the sudden intrusions of
rude speech with which he had shattered so often Stephen’s ardent wayward confessions?
Stephen had forgiven freely for he had found this rudeness also in himself towards himself.
And he remembered an evening when he had dismounted from a borrowed creaking bicycle
to pray to God in a wood near Malahide. He had lifted up his arms and spoken in ecstasy to
the sombre nave of the trees, knowing that he stood on holy ground and in a holy hour. And
when two constabularymen had come into sight round a bend in the gloomy road he had
broken off his prayer to whistle loudly an air from the last pantomime.
He began to beat the frayed end of his ashplant against the base of a pillar. Had Cranly not
heard him? Yet he could wait. The talk about him ceased for a moment: and a soft hiss fell
again from a window above. But no other sound was in the air and the swallows whose flight
he had followed with idle eyes were sleeping.
She had passed through the dusk. And therefore the air was silent save for one soft hiss that
fell. And therefore the tongues about him had ceased their babble. Darkness was falling.
Darkness falls from the air.
A trembling joy, lambent as a faint light, played like a fairy host around him. But why? Herpassage through the darkening air or the verse with its black vowels and its opening sound,
rich and lutelike?
He walked away slowly towards the deeper shadows at the end of the colonnade, beating
the stone softly with his stick to hide his revery from the students whom he had left: and
allowed his mind to summon back to itself the age of Dowland and Byrd and Nash.
Eyes, opening from the darkness of desire, eyes that dimmed the breaking east. What was
their languid grace but the softness of chambering? And what was their shimmer but the
shimmer of the scum that mantled the cesspool of the court of a slobbering Stuart. And he
tasted in the language of memory ambered wines, dying fallings of sweet airs, the proud
pavan: and saw with the eyes of memory kind gentlewomen in Covent Garden wooing from
their balconies with sucking mouths and the poxfouled wenches of the taverns and young
wives that, gaily yielding to their ravishers, clipped and clipped again.
The images he had summoned gave him no pleasure. They were secret and enflaming but
her image was not entangled by them. That was not the way to think of her. It was not even the
way in which he thought of her. Could his mind then not trust itself? Old phrases, sweet only
with a disinterred sweetness like the figseeds Cranly rooted out of his gleaming teeth.
It was not thought nor vision though he knew vaguely that her figure was passing
homeward through the city. Vaguely first and then more sharply he smelt her body. A
conscious unrest seethed in his blood. Yes, it was her body he smelt: a wild and languid smell:
the tepid limbs over which his music had flowed desirously and the secret soft linen upon
which her flesh distilled odour and a dew.
A louse crawled over the nape of his neck and, putting his thumb and forefinger deftly
beneath his loose collar, he caught it. He rolled its body, tender yet brittle as a grain of rice,
between thumb and finger for an instant before he let it fall from him and wondered would it
live or die. There came to his mind a curious phrase from Cornelius a Lapide which said that
the lice born of human sweat were not created by God with the other animals on the sixth day.
But the tickling of the skin of his neck made his mind raw and red. The life of his body, illclad,
illfed, louseeaten, made him close his eyelids in a sudden spasm of despair: and in the
darkness he saw the brittle bright bodies of lice falling from the air and turning often as they
fell. Yes; and it was not darkness that fell from the air. It was brightness.
Brightness falls from the air.
He had not even remembered rightly Nash’s line. All the images it had awakened were false.
His mind bred vermin. His thoughts were lice born of the sweat of sloth.
He came back quickly along the colonnade towards the group of students. Well then, let her
go and be damned to her. She could love some clean athlete who washed himself every
morning to the waist and had black hair on his chest. Let her.
Cranly had taken another dried fig from the supply in his pocket and was eating it slowly
and noisily. Temple sat on the pediment of a pillar, leaning back, his cap pulled down on his
sleepy eyes. A squat young man came out of the porch, a leather portfolio tucked under his
armpit. He marched towards the group, striking the flags with the heels of his boots and with
the ferule of his heavy umbrella. Then, raising the umbrella in salute, he said to all:
—Good evening, sirs.
He struck the flags again and tittered while his head trembled with a slight nervous
movement. The tall consumptive student and Dixon and O’Keeffe were speaking in Irish and
did not answer him. Then, turning to Cranly, he said:
—Good evening, particularly to you.
He moved the umbrella in indication and tittered again. Cranly, who was still chewing the
fig, answered with loud movements of his jaws.
—Good? Yes. It is a good evening.
The squat student looked at him seriously and shook his umbrella gently and reprovingly.
—I can see, he said, that you are about to make obvious remarks.
—Um, Cranly answered, holding out what remained of the halfchewed fig and jerking it
towards the squat student’s mouth in sign that he should eat.The squat student did not eat it but, indulging his special humour, said gravely, still tittering
and prodding his phrase with his umbrella:
—Do you intend that …
He broke off, pointed bluntly to the munched pulp of the fig and said loudly:
—I allude to that.
—Um, Cranly said as before.
—Do you intend that now, the squat student said, as ipso facto or, let us say, as so to speak?
Dixon turned aside from his group, saying:
—Goggins was waiting for you, Glynn. He has gone round to the Adelphi to look for you and
Moynihan. What have you there? he asked, tapping the portfolio under Glynn’s arm.
—Examination papers, Glynn answered. I give them monthly examinations to see that they
are profiting by my tuition.
He also tapped the portfolio and coughed gently and smiled.
—Tuition! said Cranly rudely. I suppose you mean the barefooted children that are taught
by a bloody ape like you. God help them!
He bit off the rest of the fig and flung away the butt.
—I suffer little children to come unto me, Glynn said amiably.
—A bloody ape, Cranly repeated with emphasis, and a blasphemous bloody ape!
Temple stood up and, pushing past Cranly, addressed Glynn:
—That phrase you said now, he said, is from the new testament about suffer the children to
come to me.
—Go to sleep again, Temple, said O’Keeffe.
—Very well, then, Temple continued, still addressing Glynn, and if Jesus suffered the
children to come why does the church send them all to hell if they die unbaptised? Why is
that?
—Were you baptised yourself, Temple? the consumptive student asked.
—But why are they sent to hell if Jesus said they were all to come? Temple said, his eyes
searching in Glynn’s eyes.
Glynn coughed and said gently, holding back with difficulty the nervous titter in his voice
and moving his umbrella at every word:
—And, as you remark, if it is thus I ask emphatically whence comes this thusness.
—Because the church is cruel like all old sinners, Temple said.
—Are you quite orthodox on that point Temple? Dixon said suavely.
—Saint Augustine says that about unbaptised children going to hell, Temple answered,
because he was a cruel old sinner too.
—I bow to you, Dixon said, but I had the impression that limbo existed for such cases.
—Don’t argue with him, Dixon, Cranly said brutally. Don’t talk to him or look at him. Lead
him home with a sugan the way you’d lead a bleating goat.
—Limbo! Temple cried. That’s a fine invention too. Like hell.
—But with the unpleasantness left out, Dixon said.
He turned smiling to the others and said:
—I think I am voicing the opinions of all present in saying so much.
—You are, Glynn said in a firm tone. On that point Ireland is united.
He struck the ferule of his umbrella on the stone floor of the colonnade.
—Hell, Temple said. I can respect that invention of the grey spouse of Satan. Hell is Roman,
like the walls of the Romans, strong and ugly. But what is limbo?
—Put him back into the perambulator, Cranly, O’Keeffe called out.
Cranly made a swift step towards Temple, halted, stamping his foot, crying as if to a fowl:
—Hoosh!
Temple moved away nimbly.
—Do you know what limbo is? he cried. Do you know what we call a notion like that in
Roscommon?
—Hoosh! Blast you! Cranly cried, clapping his hands.—Neither my arse nor my elbow! Temple cried out scornfully. And that’s what I call limbo.
—Give us that stick here, Cranly said.
He snatched the ashplant roughly from Stephen’s hand and sprang down the steps: but
Temple, hearing him move in pursuit, fled through the dusk like a wild creature, nimble and
fleetfooted. Cranly’s heavy boots were heard loudly charging across the quadrangle and then
returning heavily, foiled and spurning the gravel at each step.
His step was angry and with an angry abrupt gesture he thrust the stick back into Stephen’s
hand. Stephen felt that his anger had another cause but, feigning patience, touched his arm
slightly and said quietly:
—Cranly, I told you I wanted to speak to you. Come away.
Cranly looked at him for a few moments and asked:
—Now?
—Yes, now, Stephen said. We can’t speak here. Come away.
They crossed the quadrangle together without speaking. The birdcall from Siegfried
whistled softly followed them from the steps of the porch. Cranly turned: and Dixon, who had
whistled, called out:
—Where are you fellows off to? What about that game, Cranly?
They parleyed in shouts across the still air about a game of billiards to be played in the
Adelphi hotel. Stephen walked on alone and out into the quiet of Kildare Street. Opposite
Maple’s hotel he stood to wait, patient again. The name of the hotel, a colourless polished
wood, and its colourless quiet front stung him like a glance of polite disdain. He stared angrily
back at the softly lit drawingroom of the hotel in which he imagined the sleek lives of the
patricians of Ireland housed in calm. They thought of army commissions and land agents:
peasants greeted them along the roads in the country: they knew the names of certain French
dishes and gave orders to jarvies in highpitched provincial voices which pierced through their
skintight accents.
How could he hit their conscience or how cast his shadow over the imaginations of their
daughters, before their squires begat upon them, that they might breed a race less ignoble
than their own? And under the deepened dusk he felt the thoughts and desires of the race to
which he belonged flitting like bats, across the dark country lanes, under trees by the edges of
streams and near the poolmottled bogs. A woman had waited in the doorway as Davin had
passed by at night and, offering him a cup of milk, had all but wooed him to her bed; for Davin
had the mild eyes of one who could be secret. But him no woman’s eyes had wooed.
His arm was taken in a strong grip and Cranly’s voice said:
—Let us eke go.
They walked southward in silence. Then Cranly said:
—That blithering idiot Temple! I swear to Moses, do you know, that I’ll be the death of that
fellow one time.
But his voice was no longer angry and Stephen wondered was he thinking of her greeting to
him under the porch.
They turned to the left and walked on as before. When they had gone on so for some time
Stephen said:
—Cranly, I had an unpleasant quarrel this evening.
—With your people? Cranly asked.
—With my mother.
—About religion?
—Yes, Stephen answered.
After a pause Cranly asked:
—What age is your mother?
—Not old, Stephen said. She wishes me to make my easter duty.
—And will you?
—I will not, Stephen said.
—Why not? Cranly said.—I will not serve, answered Stephen.
—That remark was made before, Cranly said calmly.
—It is made behind now, said Stephen hotly.
Cranly pressed Stephen’s arm, saying:
—Go easy, my dear man. You’re an excitable bloody man, do you know.
He laughed nervously as he spoke and, looking up into Stephen’s face with moved and
friendly eyes, said:
—Do you know that you are an excitable man?
—I daresay I am, said Stephen, laughing also.
Their minds, lately estranged, seemed suddenly to have been drawn closer, one to the other.
—Do you believe in the eucharist? Cranly asked.
—I do not, Stephen said.
—Do you disbelieve then?
—I neither believe in it nor disbelieve in it, Stephen answered.
—Many persons have doubts, even religious persons, yet they overcome them or put them
aside, Cranly said. Are your doubts on that point too strong?
—I do not wish to overcome them, Stephen answered.
Cranly, embarrassed for a moment, took another fig from his pocket and was about to eat it
when Stephen said:
—Don’t, please. You cannot discuss this question with your mouth full of chewed fig.
Cranly examined the fig by the light of a lamp under which he halted. Then he smelt it with
both nostrils, bit a tiny piece, spat it out and threw the fig rudely into the gutter. Addressing it
as it lay, he said:
—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!
Taking Stephen’s arm, he went on again and said:
—Do you not fear that those words may be spoken to you on the day of judgment?
—What is offered me on the other hand? Stephen asked. An eternity of bliss in the company
of the dean of studies?
—Remember, Cranly said, that he would be glorified.
—Ay, Stephen said somewhat bitterly, bright, agile, impassible and, above all, subtle.
—It is a curious thing, do you know, Cranly said dispassionately, how your mind is
supersaturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve. Did you believe in it when you
were at school? I bet you did.
—I did, Stephen answered.
—And were you happier then? Cranly asked softly. Happier than you are now, for instance?
—Often happy, Stephen said, and often unhappy. I was someone else then.
—How someone else? What do you mean by that statement?
—I mean, said Stephen, that I was not myself as I am now, as I had to become.
—Not as you are now, not as you had to become, Cranly repeated. Let me ask you a
question. Do you love your mother?
Stephen shook his head slowly.
—I don’t know what your words mean, he said simply.
—Have you never loved anyone? Cranly asked.
—Do you mean women?
—I am not speaking of that, Cranly said in a colder tone. I ask you if you ever felt love
towards anyone or anything.
Stephen walked on beside his friend, staring gloomily at the footpath.
—I tried to love God, he said at length. It seems now I failed. It is very difficult. I tried to unite
my will with the will of God instant by instant. In that I did not always fail. I could perhaps do
that still …
Cranly cut him short by asking:
—Has your mother had a happy life?
—How do I know? Stephen said.—How many children had she?
—Nine or ten, Stephen answered. Some died.
—Was your father…. Cranly interrupted himself for an instant: and then said: I don’t want
to pry into your family affairs. But was your father what is called well-to-do? I mean when you
were growing up?
—Yes, Stephen said.
—What was he? Cranly asked after a pause.
Stephen began to enumerate glibly his father’s attributes.
—A medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur actor, a shouting politician, a small
landlord, a small investor, a drinker, a good fellow, a storyteller, somebody’s secretary,
something in a distillery, a taxgatherer, a bankrupt and at present a praiser of his own past.
Cranly laughed, tightening his grip on Stephen’s arm, and said:
—The distillery is damn good.
—Is there anything else you want to know? Stephen asked.
—Are you in good circumstances at present?
—Do I look it? Stephen asked bluntly.
—So then, Cranly went on musingly, you were born in the lap of luxury.
He used the phrase broadly and loudly as he often used technical expressions as if he
wished his hearer to understand that they were used by him without conviction.
—Your mother must have gone through a good deal of suffering, he said then. Would you
not try to save her from suffering more even if … or would you?
—If I could, Stephen said. That would cost me very little.
—Then do so, Cranly said. Do as she wishes you to do. What is it for you? You disbelieve in
it. It is a form: nothing else. And you will set her mind at rest.
He ceased and, as Stephen did not reply, remained silent. Then, as if giving utterance to the
process of his own thought, he said:
—Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not. Your
mother brings you into the world, carries you first in her body. What do we know about what
she feels? But whatever she feels, it, at least, must be real. It must be. What are our ideas or
ambitions? Play. Ideas! Why, that bloody bleating goat Temple has ideas. MacCann has ideas
too. Every jackass going the roads thinks he has ideas.
Stephen, who had been listening to the unspoken speech behind the words, said with
assumed carelessness:
—Pascal, if I remember rightly, would not suffer his mother to kiss him as he feared the
contact of her sex.
—Pascal was a pig, said Cranly.
—Aloysius Gonzaga, I think, was of the same mind, Stephen said.
—And he was another pig then, said Cranly.
—The church calls him a saint, Stephen objected.
—I don’t care a flaming damn what anyone calls him, Cranly said rudely and flatly. I call
him a pig.
Stephen, preparing the words neatly in his mind, continued:
—Jesus, too, seems to have treated his mother with scant courtesy in public but Suarez, a
jesuit theologian and Spanish gentleman, has apologised for him.
—Did the idea ever occur to you, Cranly asked, that Jesus was not what he pretended to be?
—The first person to whom that idea occurred, Stephen answered, was Jesus himself.
—I mean, Cranly said, hardening in his speech, did the idea ever occur to you that he was
himself a conscious hypocrite, what he called the jews of his time, a whited sepulchre? Or, to
put it more plainly, that he was a blackguard?
—That idea never occurred to me, Stephen answered. But I am curious to know are you
trying to make a convert of me or a pervert of yourself?
He turned towards his friend’s face and saw there a raw smile which some force of will
strove to make finely significant.Cranly asked suddenly in a plain sensible tone:
—Tell me the truth. Were you at all shocked by what I said?
—Somewhat, Stephen said.
—And why were you shocked, Cranly pressed on in the same tone, if you feel sure that our
religion is false and that Jesus was not the son of God?
—I am not at all sure of it, Stephen said. He is more like a son of God than a son of Mary.
—And is that why you will not communicate, Cranly asked, because you are not sure of that
too, because you feel that the host too may be the body and blood of the son of God and not a
wafer of bread? And because you fear that it may be?
—Yes, Stephen said quietly. I feel that and I also fear it.
—I see, Cranly said.
Stephen, struck by his tone of closure, reopened the discussion at once by saying:
—I fear many things: dogs, horses, firearms, the sea, thunderstorms, machinery, the
country roads at night.
—But why do you fear a bit of bread?
—I imagine, Stephen said, that there is a malevolent reality behind those things I say I fear.
—Do you fear then, Cranly asked, that the God of the Roman catholics would strike you
dead and damn you if you made a sacrilegious communion?
—The God of the Roman catholics could do that now, Stephen said. I fear more than that
the chemical action which would be set up in my soul by a false homage to a symbol behind
which are massed twenty centuries of authority and veneration.
—Would you, Cranly asked, in extreme danger commit that particular sacrilege? For
instance, if you lived in the penal days?
—I cannot answer for the past, Stephen replied. Possibly not.
—Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?
—I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost selfrespect. What
kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to
embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?
They had walked on towards the township of Pembroke and now, as they went on slowly
along the avenues, the trees and the scattered lights in the villas soothed their minds. The air
of wealth and repose diffused about them seemed to comfort their neediness. Behind a hedge
of laurel a light glimmered in the window of a kitchen and the voice of a servant was heard
singing as she sharpened knives. She sang, in short broken bars, Rosie O’Grady.
Cranly stopped to listen, saying:
—Mulier cantat.
The soft beauty of the Latin word touched with an enchanting touch the dark of the
evening, with a touch fainter and more persuading than the touch of music or of a woman’s
hand. The strife of their minds was quelled. The figure of woman as she appears in the liturgy
of the church passed silently through the darkness: a whiterobed figure, small and slender as
a boy and with a falling girdle. Her voice, frail and high as a boy’s, was heard intoning from a
distant choir the first words of a woman which pierce the gloom and clamour of the first
chanting of the passion:
—Et tu cum Jesu Galilæo eras.
And all hearts were touched and turned to her voice, shining like a young star, shining
clearer as the voice intoned the proparoxyton and more faintly as the cadence died.
The singing ceased. They went on together, Cranly repeating in strongly stressed rhythm
the end of the refrain:
And when we are married,
O, how happy we’ll be
For I love sweet Rosie O’Grady
And Rosie O’Grady loves me.
—There’s real poetry for you, he said. There’s real love.
He glanced sideways at Stephen with a strange smile and said:—Do you consider that poetry? Or do you know what the words mean?
—I want to see Rosie first, said Stephen.
—She’s easy to find, Cranly said.
His hat had come down on his forehead. He shoved it back: and in the shadow of the trees
Stephen saw his pale face, framed by the dark, and his large dark eyes. Yes. His face was
handsome: and his body was strong and hard. He had spoken of a mother’s love. He felt then
the sufferings of women, the weaknesses of their bodies and souls: and would shield them
with a strong and resolute arm and bow his mind to them.
Away then: it is time to go. A voice spoke softly to Stephen’s lonely heart, bidding him go
and telling him that his friendship was coming to an end. Yes; he would go. He could not
strive against another. He knew his part.
—Probably I shall go away, he said.
—Where? Cranly asked.
—Where I can, Stephen said.
—Yes, Cranly said. It might be difficult for you to live here now. But is it that that makes you
go?
—I have to go, Stephen answered.
—Because, Cranly continued, you need not look upon yourself as driven away if you do not
wish to go or as a heretic or an outlaw. There are many good believers who think as you do.
Would that surprise you? The church is not the stone building nor even the clergy and their
dogmas. It is the whole mass of those born into it. I don’t know what you wish to do in life. Is it
what you told me the night we were standing outside Harcourt Street station?
—Yes, Stephen said, smiling in spite of himself at Cranly’s way of remembering thoughts in
connection with places. The night you spent half an hour wrangling with Doherty about the
shortest way from Sallygap to Larras.
—Pothead! Cranly said with calm contempt. What does he know about the way from
Sallygap to Larras? Or what does he know about anything for that matter? And the big
slobbering washingpot head of him!
He broke out into a loud long laugh.
—Well? Stephen said. Do you remember the rest?
—What you said, is it? Cranly asked. Yes, I remember it. To discover the mode of life or of art
whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom.
Stephen raised his hat in acknowledgment.
—Freedom! Cranly repeated. But you are not free enough yet to commit a sacrilege. Tell me,
would you rob?
—I would beg first, Stephen said.
—And if you got nothing, would you rob?
—You wish me to say, Stephen answered, that the rights of property are provisional and
that in certain circumstances it is not unlawful to rob. Everyone would act in that belief. So I
will not make you that answer. Apply to the jesuit theologian Juan Mariana de Talavera who
will also explain to you in what circumstances you may lawfully kill your king and whether you
had better hand him his poison in a goblet or smear it for him upon his robe or his
saddlebow. Ask me rather would I suffer others to rob me or, if they did, would I call down
upon them what I believe is called the chastisement of the secular arm?
—And would you?
—I think, Stephen said, it would pain me as much to do so as to be robbed.
—I see, Cranly said.
He produced his match and began to clean the crevice between two teeth. Then he said
carelessly:
—Tell me, for example, would you deflower a virgin?
—Excuse me, Stephen said politely, is that not the ambition of most young gentlemen?
—What then is your point of view? Cranly asked.
His last phrase, soursmelling as the smoke of charcoal and disheartening, excitedStephen’s brain, over which its fumes seemed to brood.
—Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I
will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer
believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express
myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence
the only arms I allow myself to use—silence, exile, and cunning.
Cranly seized his arm and steered him round so as to head back towards Leeson Park. He
laughed almost slily and pressed Stephen’s arm with an elder’s affection.
—Cunning indeed! he said. Is it you? You poor poet, you!
—And you made me confess to you, Stephen said, thrilled by his touch, as I have confessed
to you so many other things, have I not?
—Yes, my child, Cranly said, still gaily.
—You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also what I do not fear. I do
not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am
not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as
eternity too.
Cranly, now grave again, slowed his pace and said:
—Alone, quite alone. You have no fear of that. And you know what that word means? Not
only to be separate from all others but to have not even one friend.
—I will take the risk, said Stephen.
—And not to have any one person, Cranly said, who would be more than a friend, more
even than the noblest and truest friend a man ever had.
His words seemed to have struck some deep chord in his own nature. Had he spoken of
himself, of himself as he was or wished to be? Stephen watched his face for some moments in
silence. A cold sadness was there. He had spoken of himself, of his own loneliness which he
feared.
—Of whom are you speaking? Stephen asked at length.
Cranly did not answer.
* * *
20 March: Long talk with Cranly on the subject of my revolt. He had his grand manner on. I
supple and suave. Attacked me on the score of love for one’s mother. Tried to imagine his
mother: cannot. Told me once, in a moment of thoughtlessness, his father was sixtyone when
he was born. Can see him. Strong farmer type. Pepper and salt suit. Square feet. Unkempt
grizzled beard. Probably attends coursing matches. Pays his dues regularly but not plentifully
to Father Dwyer of Larras. Sometimes talks to girls after nightfall. But his mother? Very young
or very old? Hardly the first. If so, Cranly would not have spoken as he did. Old then. Probably,
and neglected. Hence Cranly’s despair of soul: the child of exhausted loins.
21 March, morning: Thought this in bed last night but was too lazy and free to add it. Free,
yes. The exhausted loins are those of Elisabeth and Zachary. Then he is the precursor. Item: he
eats chiefly belly bacon and dried figs. Read locusts and wild honey. Also, when thinking of
him, saw always a stern severed head or deathmask as if outlined on a grey curtain or
veronica. Decollation they call it in the fold. Puzzled for the moment by saint John at the Latin
gate. What do I see? A decollated precursor trying to pick the lock.
21 March, night: Free. Soulfree and fancyfree. Let the dead bury the dead. Ay. And let the dead
marry the dead.
22 March: In company with Lynch followed a sizable hospital nurse. Lynch’s idea. Dislike it.
Two lean hungry greyhounds walking after a heifer.
23 March: Have not seen her since that night. Unwell? Sits at the fire perhaps with mamma’s
shawl on her shoulders. But not peevish. A nice bowl of gruel? Won’t you now?
24 March: Began with a discussion with my mother. Subject: B.V.M. Handicapped by my sex
and youth. To escape held up relations between Jesus and Papa against those between Mary
and her son. Said religion was not a lying-in hospital. Mother indulgent. Said I have a queer
mind and have read too much. Not true. Have read little and understood less. Then she said Iwould come back to faith because I had a restless mind. This means to leave church by
backdoor of sin and reenter through the skylight of repentance. Cannot repent. Told her so
and asked for sixpence. Got threepence.
Then went to college. Other wrangle with little roundhead rogue’seye Ghezzi. This time
about Bruno the Nolan. Began in Italian and ended in pidgin English. He said Bruno was a
terrible heretic. I said he was terribly burned. He agreed to this with some sorrow. Then gave
me recipe for what he calls risotto alla bergamasca. When he pronounces a soft o he protrudes
his full carnal lips as if he kissed the vowel. Has he? And could he repent? Yes, he could: and
cry two round rogue’s tears, one from each eye.
Crossing Stephen’s, that is, my green, remembered that his countrymen and not mine had
invented what Cranly the other night called our religion. A quartet of them, soldiers of the
ninetyseventh infantry regiment, sat at the foot of the cross and tossed up dice for the
overcoat of the crucified.
Went to library. Tried to read three reviews. Useless. She is not out yet. Am I alarmed? About
what? That she will never be out again.
Blake wrote:
I wonder if William Bond will die
For assuredly he is very ill.
Alas, poor William!
I was once at a diorama in Rotunda. At the end were pictures of big nobs. Among them
William Ewart Gladstone, just then dead. Orchestra played O, Willie, we have missed you.
A race of clodhoppers!
25 March, morning: A troubled night of dreams. Want to get them off my chest.
A long curving gallery. From the floor ascend pillars of dark vapours. It is peopled by the
images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their hands are folded upon their knees in token of
weariness and their eyes are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark
vapours.
Strange figures advance from a cave. They are not as tall as men. One does not seem to
stand quite apart from another. Their faces are phosphorescent, with darker streaks. They
peer at me and their eyes seem to ask me something. They do not speak.
30 March: This evening Cranly was in the porch of the library, proposing a problem to Dixon
and her brother. A mother let her child fall into the Nile. Still harping on the mother. A
crocodile seized the child. Mother asked it back. Crocodile said all right if she told him what
he was going to do with the child, eat it or not eat it.
This mentality, Lepidus would say, is indeed bred out of your mud by the operation of your
sun.
And mine? Is it not too? Then into Nilemud with it!
1 April: Disapprove of this last phrase.
2 April: Saw her drinking tea and eating cakes in Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien’s. Rather,
lynxeyed Lynch saw her as we passed. He tells me Cranly was invited there by brother. Did he
bring his crocodile? Is he the shining light now? Well, I discovered him. I protest I did. Shining
quietly behind a bushel of Wicklow bran.
3 April: Met Davin at the cigar shop opposite Findlater’s church. He was in a black sweater
and had a hurleystick. Asked me was it true I was going away and why. Told him the shortest
way to Tara was via Holyhead. Just then my father came up. Introduction. Father, polite and
observant. Asked Davin if he might offer him some refreshment. Davin could not, was going
to a meeting. When we came away father told me he had a good honest eye. Asked me why I
did not join a rowingclub. I pretended to think it over. Told me then how he broke
Pennyfeather’s heart. Wants me to read law. Says I was cut out for that. More mud, more
crocodiles.
5 April: Wild spring. Scudding clouds. O life! Dark stream of swirling bogwater on which
appletrees have cast down their delicate flowers. Eyes of girls among the leaves. Girls demure
and romping. All fair or auburn: no dark ones. They blush better. Houp-la!6 April: Certainly she remembers the past. Lynch says all women do. Then she remembers
the time of her childhood—and mine if I was ever a child. The past is consumed in the present
and the present is living only because it brings forth the future. Statues of women, if Lynch be
right, should always be fully draped, one hand of the woman feeling regretfully her own
hinder parts.
6 April, later: Michael Robartes remembers forgotten beauty and, when his arms wrap her
round, he presses in his arms the loveliness which has long faded from the world. Not this.
Not at all. I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.
10 April: Faintly, under the heavy night, through the silence of the city which has turned
from dreams to dreamless sleep as a weary lover whom no caresses move, the sound of hoofs
upon the road. Not so faintly now as they come near the bridge: and in a moment as they pass
the darkened windows the silence is cloven by alarm as by an arrow. They are heard now far
away, hoofs that shine amid the heavy night as gems, hurrying beyond the sleeping fields to
what journey’s end—what heart?—bearing what tidings?
11 April: Read what I wrote last night. Vague words for a vague emotion. Would she like it? I
think so. Then I should have to like it also.
1 3 April: That tundish has been on my mind for a long time. I looked it up and find it
English and good old blunt English too. Damn the dean of studies and his funnel! What did
he come here for to teach us his own language or to learn it from us? Damn him one way or
the other!
14 April: John Alphonsus Mulrennan has just returned from the west of Ireland. (European
and Asiatic papers please copy.) He told us he met an old man there in a mountain cabin. Old
man had red eyes and short pipe. Old man spoke Irish. Mulrennan spoke Irish. Then old man
and Mulrennan spoke English. Mulrennan spoke to him about universe and stars. Old man
sat, listened, smoked, spat. Then said:
—Ah, there must be terrible queer creatures at the latter end of the world.
I fear him. I fear his redrimmed horny eyes. It is with him I must struggle all through this
night till day come, till he or I lie dead, gripping him by the sinewy throat till … Till what? Till
he yield to me? No. I mean him no harm.
15 April: Met her today pointblank in Grafton Street. The crowd brought us together. We
both stopped. She asked me why I never came, said she had heard all sorts of stories about me.
This was only to gain time. Asked me, was I writing poems? About whom? I asked her. This
confused her more and I felt sorry and mean. Turned off that valve at once and opened the
spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented and patented in all countries by Dante
Alighieri. Talked rapidly of myself and my plans. In the midst of it unluckily I made a sudden
gesture of a revolutionary nature. I must have looked like a fellow throwing a handful of peas
into the air. People began to look at us. She shook hands a moment after and, in going away,
said she hoped I would do what I said.
Now I call that friendly, don’t you?
Yes, I liked her today. A little or much? Don’t know. I liked her and it seems a new feeling to
me. Then, in that case, all the rest, all that I thought I thought and all that I felt I felt, all the
rest before now, in fact … O, give it up, old chap! Sleep it off!
16 April: Away! Away!
The spell of arms and voices: the white arms of roads, their promise of close embraces and
the black arms of tall ships that stand against the moon, their tale of distant nations. They are
held out to say: We are alone. Come. And the voices say with them: We are your kinsmen. And
the air is thick with their company as they call to me, their kinsman, making ready to go,
shaking the wings of their exultant and terrible youth.
26 April: Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says,
that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it
feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of
experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
27 April: Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.Dublin 1904
Trieste 1914
® E X I L E S

A P L A Y I N T H R E E A C T S


by
J A M E S J O Y C E








published May 25, 1918
by Grant Richards Ltd., Londonc o n t e n t s — e x i l e s


Characters.
First Act.
Second Act.
Third Act.
® [The text follows the Egoist Press edition, London 1921.]Characters
Richard Rowan, a writer.
Bertha.
Archie, their son, aged eight years.
Robert Hand, journalist.
Beatrice Justice, his cousin, music teacher.
Brigid, an old servant of the Rowan family.
A Fishwoman.
At Merrion and Ranelagh, suburbs of Dublin.
Summer of the year 1912.First Act
The drawingroom in Richard Rowan’s house at Merrion, a suburb of Dublin. On the right, forward, a fireplace, before which
stands a low screen. Over the mantelpiece a giltframed glass. Further back in the right wall, folding doors leading to the parlour
and kitchen. In the wall at the back to the right a small door leading to a study. Left of this a sideboard. On the wall above the
sideboard a framed crayon drawing of a young man. More to the left double doors with glass panels leading out to the garden.
In the wall at the left a window looking out on the road. Forward in the same wall a door leading to the hall and the upper part
of the house. Between the window and door a lady’s davenport stands against the wall. Near it a wicker chair. In the centre of the
room a round table. Chairs, upholstered in faded green plush, stand round the table. To the right, forward, a smaller table with
a smoking service on it. Near it an easychair and a lounge. Cocoanut mats lie before the fireplace, beside the lounge and before
the doors. The floor is of stained planking. The double doors at the back and the folding doors at the right have lace curtains,
which are drawn halfway. The lower sash of the window is lifted and the window is hung with heavy green plush curtains. The
blind is pulled down to the edge of the lifted lower sash. It is a warm afternoon in June and the room is filled with soft sunlight
which is waning.
[Brigid and Beatrice Justice come in by the door on the left. Brigid is an elderly woman, lowsized, with irongrey hair. Beatrice Justice is a
slender dark young woman of 27 years. She wears a wellmade navyblue costume and an elegant simply trimmed black straw hat, and
carries a small portfolioshaped handbag.]
Brigid.
The mistress and Master Archie is at the bath. They never expected you. Did you send word you were back, Miss Justice?
Beatrice.
No. I arrived just now.
Brigid.
[Points to the easychair.] Sit down and I’ll tell the master you are here. Were you long in the train?
Beatrice.
[Sitting down.] Since morning.
Brigid.
Master Archie got your postcard with the views of Youghal. You’re tired out, I’m sure.
Beatrice.
O no. [She coughs rather nervously.] Did he practise the piano while I was away?
Brigid.
[Laughs heartily.] Practise, how are you! Is it Master Archie? He is mad after the milkman’s horse now. Had you nice weather
down there, Miss Justice?
Beatrice.
Rather wet, I think.
Brigid.
[Sympathetically.] Look at that now. And there is rain overhead too. [Moving towards the study.] I’ll tell him you are here.
Beatrice.
Is Mr Rowan in?
Brigid.
[Points.] He is in his study. He is wearing himself out about something he is writing. Up half the night he does be. [Going.] I’ll call
him.
Beatrice.
Don’t disturb him, Brigid. I can wait here till they come back if they are not long.
Brigid.
And I saw something in the letterbox when I was letting you in. [She crosses to the study door, opens it slightly and calls.] Master
Richard, Miss Justice is here for Master Archie’s lesson.
[Richard Rowan comes in from the study and advances towards Beatrice, holding out his hand. He is a tall athletic young man of a rather
lazy carriage. He has light brown hair and a moustache and wears glasses. He is dressed in loose lightgrey tweed.]
Richard.
Welcome.
Beatrice.
[Rises and shakes hands, blushing slightly.] Good afternoon, Mr Rowan. I did not want Brigid to disturb you.
Richard.
Disturb me? My goodness!
Brigid.
There is something in the letterbox, Sir.
Richard.
[Takes a small bunch of keys from his pocket and hands them to her.] Here.
[Brigid goes out by the door at the left and is heard opening and closing the box. A short pause. She enters with two newspapers in her
hands.]
Richard.Letters?
Brigid.
No, sir. Only them Italian newspapers.
Richard.
Leave them on my desk, will you?
[Brigid hands him back the keys, leaves the newspapers in the study, comes out again and goes out by the folding doors on the right.]
Richard.
Please, sit down. Bertha will be back in a moment.
[Beatrice sits down again in the easychair. Richard sits beside the table.]
Richard.
I had begun to think you would never come back. It is twelve days since you were here.
Beatrice.
I thought of that too. But I have come.
Richard.
Have you thought over what I told you when you were here last?
Beatrice.
Very much.
Richard.
You must have known it before. Did you? [She does not answer.] Do you blame me?
Beatrice.
No.
Richard.
Do you think I have acted towards you—badly? No? Or towards anyone?
Beatrice.
[Looks at him with a sad puzzled expression.] I have asked myself that question.
Richard.
And the answer?
Beatrice.
I could not answer it.
Richard.
If I were a painter and told you I had a book of sketches of you you would not think it so strange, would you?
Beatrice.
It is not quite the same case, is it?
Richard.
[Smiles slightly.] Not quite. I told you also that I would not show you what I had written unless you asked to see it. Well?
Beatrice.
I will not ask you.
Richard.
[Leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his hands joined.] Would you like to see it?
Beatrice.
Very much.
Richard.
Because it is about yourself?
Beatrice.
Yes. But not only that.
Richard.
Because it is written by me? Yes? Even if what you would find there is sometimes cruel?
Beatrice.
[Shyly.] That is part of your mind, too.
Richard.
Then it is my mind that attracts you? Is that it?
Beatrice.
[Hesitating, glances at him for an instant.] Why do you think I come here?
Richard.
Why? Many reasons. To give Archie lessons. We have known one another so many years, from childhood, Robert, you and I—
haven’t we? You have always been interested in me, before I went away and while I was away. Then our letters to each other
about my book. Now it is published. I am here again. Perhaps you feel that some new thing is gathering in my brain; perhaps you
feel that you should know it. Is that the reason?
Beatrice.
No.
Richard.
Why, then?Beatrice.
Otherwise I could not see you.
[She looks at him for a moment and then turns aside quickly.]
Richard.
[After a pause repeats uncertainly.] Otherwise you could not see me?
Beatrice.
[Suddenly confused.] I had better go. They are not coming back. [Rising.] Mr Rowan, I must go.
Richard.
[Extending his arms.] But you are running away. Remain. Tell me what your words mean. Are you afraid of me?
Beatrice.
[Sinks back again.] Afraid? No.
Richard.
Have you confidence in me? Do you feel that you know me?
Beatrice.
[Again shyly.] It is hard to know anyone but oneself.
Richard.
Hard to know me? I sent you from Rome the chapters of my book as I wrote them; and letters for nine long years. Well, eight
years.
Beatrice.
Yes, it was nearly a year before your first letter came.
Richard.
It was answered at once by you. And from that on you have watched me in my struggle. [Joins his hands earnestly.] Tell me, Miss
Justice, did you feel that what you read was written for your eyes? Or that you inspired me?
Beatrice.
[Shakes her head.] I need not answer that question.
Richard.
What then?
Beatrice.
[Is silent for a moment.] I cannot say it. You yourself must ask me, Mr Rowan.
Richard.
[With some vehemence.] Then that I expressed in those chapters and letters, and in my character and life as well, something in
your soul which you could not—pride or scorn?
Beatrice.
Could not?
Richard.
[Leans towards her.] Could not because you dared not. Is that why?
Beatrice.
[Bends her head.] Yes.
Richard.
On account of others or for want of courage—which?
Beatrice.
[Softly.] Courage.
Richard.
[Slowly.] And so you have followed me with pride and scorn also in your heart?
Beatrice.
And loneliness.
[She leans her head on her hand, averting her face. Richard rises and walks slowly to the window on the left. He looks out for some
moments and then returns towards her, crosses to the lounge and sits down near her.]
Richard.
Do you love him still?
Beatrice.
I do not even know.
Richard.
It was that that made me so reserved with you—then—even though I felt your interest in me, even though I felt that I too was
something in your life.
Beatrice.
You were.
Richard.
Yet that separated me from you. I was a third person, I felt. Your names were always spoken together, Robert and Beatrice, as
long as I can remember. It seemed to me, to everyone ...
Beatrice.
We are first cousins. It is not strange that we were often together.
Richard.He told me of your secret engagement with him. He had no secrets from me; I suppose you know that.
Beatrice.
[Uneasily.] What happened—between us—is so long ago. I was a child.
Richard.
[Smiles maliciously.] A child? Are you sure? It was in the garden of his mother’s house. No? [He points towards the garden.] Over
there. You plighted your troth, as they say, with a kiss. And you gave him your garter. Is it allowed to mention that?
Beatrice.
[With some reserve.] If you think it worthy of mention.
Richard.
I think you have not forgotten it. [Clasping his hands quietly.] I do not understand it. I thought, too, that after I had gone ... Did my
going make you suffer?
Beatrice.
I always knew you would go some day. I did not suffer; only I was changed.
Richard.
Towards him?
Beatrice.
Everything was changed. His life, his mind, even, seemed to change after that.
Richard.
[Musing.] Yes. I saw that you had changed when I received your first letter after a year; after your illness, too. You even said so in
your letter.
Beatrice.
It brought me near to death. It made me see things differently.
Richard.
And so a coldness began between you, little by little. Is that it?
Beatrice.
[Half closing her eyes.] No. Not at once. I saw in him a pale reflection of you: then that too faded. Of what good is it to talk now?
Richard.
[With a repressed energy.] But what is this that seems to hang over you? It cannot be so tragic.
Beatrice.
[Calmly.] O, not in the least tragic. I shall become gradually better, they tell me, as I grow older. As I did not die then they tell me I
shall probably live. I am given life and health again—when I cannot use them. [Calmly and bitterly.] I am convalescent.
Richard.
[Gently.] Does nothing then in life give you peace? Surely it exists for you somewhere.
Beatrice.
If there were convents in our religion perhaps there. At least, I think so at times.
Richard.
[Shakes his head.] No, Miss Justice, not even there. You could not give yourself freely and wholly.
Beatrice.
[Looking at him.] I would try.
Richard.
You would try, yes. You were drawn to him as your mind was drawn towards mine. You held back from him. From me, too, in a
different way. You cannot give yourself freely and wholly.
Beatrice.
[Joins her hands softly.] It is a terribly hard thing to do, Mr Rowan—to give oneself freely and wholly—and be happy.
Richard.
But do you feel that happiness is the best, the highest that we can know?
Beatrice.
[With fervour.] I wish I could feel it.
Richard.
[Leans back, his hands locked together behind his head.] O, if you knew how I am suffering at this moment! For your case, too. But
suffering most of all for my own. [With bitter force.] And how I pray that I may be granted again my dead mother’s hardness of
heart! For some help, within me or without, I must find. And find it I will.
[Beatrice rises, looks at him intently, and walks away toward the garden door. She turns with indecision, looks again at him and, coming
back, leans over the easychair.]
Beatrice.
[Quietly.] Did she send for you before she died, Mr Rowan?
Richard.
[Lost in thought.] Who?
Beatrice.
Your mother.
Richard.
[Recovering himself, looks keenly at her for a moment.] So that, too, was said of me here by my friends—that she sent for me before
she died and that I did not go?Beatrice.
Yes.
Richard.
[Coldly.] She did not. She died alone, not having forgiven me, and fortified by the rites of holy church.
Beatrice.
Mr Rowan, why do you speak to me in such a way?
Richard.
[Rises and walks nervously to and fro.] And what I suffer at this moment you will say is my punishment.
Beatrice.
Did she write to you? I mean before ...
Richard.
[Halting.] Yes. A letter of warning, bidding me break with the past, and remember her last words to me.
Beatrice.
[Softly.] And does death not move you, Mr Rowan? It is an end. Everything else is so uncertain.
Richard.
While she lived she turned aside from me and from mine. That is certain.
Beatrice.
From you and from ...
Richard.
From Bertha and from me and from our child. And so I waited for the end as you say; and it came.
Beatrice.
[Covers her face with her hands.] O no. Surely no.
Richard.
[Fiercely.] How can my words hurt her poor body that rots in the grave? Do you think I do not pity her cold blighted love for me? I
fought against her spirit while she lived to the bitter end. [He presses his hand to his forehead.] It fights against me still—in here.
Beatrice.
[As before.] O, do not speak like that.
Richard.
She drove me away. On account of her I lived years in exile and poverty too, or near it. I never accepted the doles she sent me
through the bank. I waited, too, not for her death but for some understanding of me, her own son, her own flesh and blood; that
never came.
Beatrice.
Not even after Archie...?
Richard.
[Rudely.] My son, you think? A child of sin and shame! Are you serious? [She raises her face and looks at him.] There were tongues
here ready to tell her all, to embitter her withering mind still more against me and Bertha and our godless nameless child.
[Holding out his hands to her.] Can you not hear her mocking me while I speak? You must know the voice, surely, the voice that
called you the black protestant, the pervert’s daughter. [With sudden selfcontrol.] In any case a remarkable woman.
Beatrice.
[Weakly.] At least you are free now.
Richard.
[Nods.] Yes, she could not alter the terms of my father’s will nor live for ever.
Beatrice.
[With joined hands.] They are both gone now, Mr Rowan. They both loved you, believe me. Their last thoughts were of you.
Richard.
[Approaching, touches her lightly on the shoulder, and points to the crayon drawing on the wall.] Do you see him there, smiling and
handsome? His last thoughts! I remember the night he died. [He pauses for an instant and then goes on calmly.] I was a boy of
fourteen. He called me to his bedside. He knew I wanted to go to the theatre to hear Carmen. He told my mother to give me a
shilling. I kissed him and went. When I came home he was dead. Those were his last thoughts as far as I know.
Beatrice.
The hardness of heart you prayed for ... [She breaks off.]
Richard.
[Unheeding.] That is my last memory of him. Is there not something sweet and noble in it?
Beatrice.
Mr Rowan, something is on your mind to make you speak like this. Something has changed you since you came back three
months ago.
Richard.
[Gazing again at the drawing, calmly, almost gaily.] He will help me, perhaps, my smiling handsome father.
[A knock is heard at the hall door on the left.]
Richard.
[Suddenly.] No, no. Not the smiler, Miss Justice. The old mother. It is her spirit I need. I am going.
Beatrice.
Someone knocked. They have come back.Richard.
No, Bertha has a key. It is he. At least, I am going, whoever it is.
[He goes out quickly on the left and comes back at once with his straw hat in his hand.]
Beatrice.
He? Who?
Richard.
O, probably Robert. I am going out through the garden. I cannot see him now. Say I have gone to the post. Goodbye.
Beatrice.
[With growing alarm.] It is Robert you do not wish to see?
Richard.
[Quietly.] For the moment, yes. This talk has upset me. Ask him to wait.
Beatrice.
You will come back?
Richard.
Please God.
[He goes out quickly through the garden. Beatrice makes as if to follow him. and then stops after a few paces. Brigid enters by the folding
doors on the right and goes out on the left. The hall door is heard opening. A few seconds after Brigid enters with Robert Hand. Robert
Hand is a middlesized, rather stout man between thirty and forty. He is cleanshaven, with mobile features. His hair and eyes are dark and
his complexion sallow. His gait and speech are rather slow. He wears a dark blue morning suit and carries in his hand a large bunch of
red roses wrapped in tissue paper.]
Robert.
[Coming toward her with outstretched hand which she takes.] My dearest coz! Brigid told me you were here. I had no notion. Did you
send mother a telegram?
Beatrice.
[Gazing at the roses.] No.
Robert.
[Following her gaze.] You are admiring my roses. I brought them to the mistress of the house. [Critically.] I am afraid they are not
mine.
Brigid.
O, they are lovely, sir. The mistress will be delighted with them.
Robert.
[Lays the roses carelessly on a chair out of sight.] Is nobody in?
Brigid.
Yes, sir. Sit down, sir. They’ll be here now any moment. The master was here.
[She looks about her and with a half curtsey goes out on the right.]
Robert.
[After a short silence.] How are you, Beatty? And how are all down in Youghal? As dull as ever?
Beatrice.
They were well when I left.
Robert.
[Politely.] O, but I’m sorry I did not know you were coming. I would have met you at the train. Why did you do it? You have some
queer ways about you, Beatty, haven’t you?
Beatrice.
[In the same tone.] Thank you, Robert. I am quite used to getting about alone.
Robert.
Yes, but I mean to say ... O, well, you have arrived in your own characteristic way.
[A noise is heard at the window and a boy’s voice is heard calling, “Mr Hand!” Robert turns.]
By Jove, Archie, too, is arriving in a characteristic way!
[Archie scrambles into the room through the open window on the left and then rises to his feet, flushed and panting. Archie is a boy of
eight years, dressed in white breeches, jersey and cap. He wears spectacles, has a lively manner and speaks with the slight trace of a
foreign accent.]
Beatrice.
[Going towards him.] Goodness gracious, Archie! What is the matter?
Archie.
[Rising, out of breath.] Eh! I ran all the avenue.
Robert.
[Smiles and holds out his hand.] Good evening, Archie. Why did you run?
Archie.
[Shakes hands.] Good evening. We saw you on the top of the tram, and I shouted Mr Hand! But you did not see me. But we saw you,
mamma and I. She will be here in a minute. I ran.
Beatrice.
[Holding out her hand.] And poor me!
Archie.[Shakes hands somewhat shyly.] Good evening, Miss Justice.
Beatrice.
Were you disappointed that I did not come last Friday for the lesson?
Archie.
[Glancing at her, smiles.] No.
Beatrice.
Glad?
Archie.
[Suddenly.] But today it is too late.
Beatrice.
A very short lesson?
Archie.
[Pleased.] Yes.
Beatrice.
But now you must study, Archie.
Robert.
Were you at the bath?
Archie.
Yes.
Robert.
Are you a good swimmer now?
Archie.
[Leans against the davenport.] No. Mamma won’t let me into the deep place. Can you swim well, Mr Hand?
Robert.
Splendidly. Like a stone.
Archie.
[Laughs.] Like a stone! [Pointing down.] Down that way?
Robert.
[Pointing.] Yes, down; straight down. How do you say that over in Italy?
Archie.
That? Giù. [Pointing down and up.] That is giù and this is sù. Do you want to speak to my pappie?
Robert.
Yes. I came to see him.
Archie.
[Going towards the study.] I will tell him. He is in there, writing.
Beatrice.
[Calmly, looking at Robert.] No; he is out. He is gone to the post with some letters.
Robert.
[Lightly.] O, never mind. I will wait if he is only gone to the post.
Archie.
But mamma is coming. [He glances towards the window.] Here she is!
[Archie runs out by the door on the left. Beatrice walks slowly towards the davenport. Robert remains standing. A short silence. Archie
and Bertha come in through the door on the left. Bertha is a young woman of graceful build. She has dark grey eyes, patient in expression,
and soft features. Her manner is cordial and self-possessed. She wears a lavender dress and carries her cream gloves knotted round the
handle of her sunshade.]
Bertha.
[Shaking hands.] Good evening, Miss Justice. We thought you were still down in Youghal.
Beatrice.
[Shaking hands.] Good evening, Mrs Rowan.
Bertha.
[Bows.] Good evening, Mr Hand.
Robert.
[Bowing.] Good evening, signora! Just imagine, I didn’t know either she was back till I found her here.
Bertha.
[To both.] Did you not come together?
Beatrice.
No. I came first. Mr Rowan was going out. He said you would be back any moment.
Bertha.
I’m sorry. If you had written or sent over word by the girl this morning ...
Beatrice.
[Laughs nervously.] I arrived only an hour and a half ago. I thought of sending a telegram but it seemed too tragic.
Bertha.Ah? Only now you arrived?
Robert.
[Extending his arms, blandly.] I retire from public and private life. Her first cousin and a journalist, I know nothing of her
movements.
Beatrice.
[Not directly to him.] My movements are not very interesting.
Robert.
[In the same tone.] A lady’s movements are always interesting.
Bertha.
But sit down, won’t you? You must be very tired.
Beatrice.
[Quickly.] No, not at all. I just came for Archie’s lesson.
Bertha.
I wouldn’t hear of such a thing, Miss Justice, after your long journey.
Archie.
[Suddenly to Beatrice.] And, besides, you didn’t bring the music.
Beatrice.
[A little confused.] That I forgot. But we have the old piece.
Robert.
[Pinching Archie’s ear.] You little scamp. You want to get off the lesson.
Bertha.
O, never mind the lesson. You must sit down and have a cup of tea now. [Going towards the door on the right.] I’ll tell Brigid.
Archie.
I will, mamma. [He makes a movement to go.]
Beatrice.
No, please Mrs Rowan. Archie! I would really prefer ...
Robert.
[Quietly.] I suggest a compromise. Let it be a half-lesson.
Bertha.
But she must be exhausted.
Beatrice.
[Quickly.] Not in the least. I was thinking of the lesson in the train.
Robert.
[To Bertha.] You see what it is to have a conscience, Mrs Rowan?
Archie.
Of my lesson, Miss Justice?
Beatrice.
[Simply.] It is ten days since I heard the sound of a piano.
Bertha.
O, very well. If that is it ...
Robert.
[Nervously, gaily.] Let us have the piano by all means. I know what is in Beatty’s ears at this moment. [To Beatrice.] Shall I tell?
Beatrice.
If you know.
Robert.
The buzz of the harmonium in her father’s parlour. [To Beatrice.] Confess.
Beatrice.
[Smiling.] Yes. I can hear it.
Robert.
[Grimly.] So can I. The asthmatic voice of protestantism.
Bertha.
Did you not enjoy yourself down there, Miss Justice?
Robert.
[Intervenes.] She did not, Mrs Rowan. She goes there on retreat, when the protestant strain in her prevails—gloom, seriousness,
righteousness.
Beatrice.
I go to see my father.
Robert.
[Continuing.] But she comes back here to my mother, you see. The piano influence is from our side of the house.
Bertha.
[Hesitating.] Well, Miss Justice, if you would like to play something ... But please don’t fatigue yourself with Archie.
Robert.[Suavely.] Do, Beatty. That is what you want.
Beatrice.
If Archie will come?
Archie.
[With a shrug.] To listen.
Beatrice.
[Takes his hand.] And a little lesson, too. Very short.
Bertha.
Well, afterwards you must stay to tea.
Beatrice.
[To Archie.] Come.
[Beatrice and Archie go out together by the door on the left. Bertha goes towards the davenport, takes off her hat and lays it with her
sunshade on the desk. Then taking a key from a little flowervase, she opens a drawer of the davenport, takes out a slip of paper and closes
the drawer again. Robert stands watching her.]
Bertha.
[Coming towards him with the paper in her hand.] You put this into my hand last night. What does it mean?
Robert.
Do you not know?
Bertha.
[Reads.] There is one word which I have never dared to say to you. What is the word?
Robert.
That I have a deep liking for you.
[A short pause. The piano is heard faintly from the upper room.]
Robert.
[Takes the bunch of roses from the chair.] I brought these for you. Will you take them from me?
Bertha.
[Taking them.] Thank you. [She lays them on the table and unfolds the paper again.] Why did you not dare to say it last night?
Robert.
I could not speak to you or follow you. There were too many people on the lawn. I wanted you to think over it and so I put it into
your hand when you were going away.
Bertha.
Now you have dared to say it.
Robert.
[Moves his hands slowly past his eyes.] You passed. The avenue was dim with dusky light. I could see the dark green masses of the
trees. And you passed beyond them. You were like the moon.
Bertha.
[Laughs.] Why like the moon?
Robert.
In that dress, with your slim body, walking with little even steps. I saw the moon passing in the dusk till you passed and left my
sight.
Bertha.
Did you think of me last night?
Robert.
[Comes nearer.] I think of you always—as something beautiful and distant—the moon or some deep music.
Bertha.
[Smiling.] And last night which was I?
Robert.
I was awake half the night. I could hear your voice. I could see your face in the dark. Your eyes ... I want to speak to you. Will you
listen to me? May I speak?
Bertha.
[Sitting down.] You may.
Robert.
[Sitting beside her.] Are you annoyed with me?
Bertha.
No.
Robert.
I thought you were. You put away my poor flowers so quickly.
Bertha.
[Takes them from the table and holds them close to her face.] Is this what you wish me to do with them?
Robert.
[Watching her.] Your face is a flower too—but more beautiful. A wild flower blowing in a hedge. [Moving his chair closer to her.]
Why are you smiling? At my words?
Bertha.[Laying the flowers in her lap.] I am wondering if that is what you say—to the others.
Robert.
[Surprised.] What others?
Bertha.
The other women. I hear you have so many admirers.
Robert.
[Involuntarily.] And that is why you too...?
Bertha.
But you have, haven’t you?
Robert.
Friends, yes.
Bertha.
Do you speak to them in the same way?
Robert.
[In an offended tone.] How can you ask me such a question? What kind of a person do you think I am? Or why do you listen to
me? Did you not like me to speak to you in that way?
Bertha.
What you said was very kind. [She looks at him for a moment.] Thank you for saying it—and thinking it.
Robert.
[Leaning forward.] Bertha!
Bertha.
Yes?
Robert.
I have the right to call you by your name. From old times—nine years ago. We were Bertha—and Robert—then. Can we not be so
now, too?
Bertha.
[Readily.] O yes. Why should we not?
Robert.
Bertha, you knew. From the very night you landed on Kingstown pier. It all came back to me then. And you knew it. You saw it.
Bertha.
No. Not that night.
Robert.
When?
Bertha.
The night we landed I felt very tired and dirty. [Shaking her head.] I did not see it in you that night.
Robert.
[Smiling.] Tell me what did you see that night—your very first impression.
Bertha.
[Knitting her brows.] You were standing with your back to the gangway, talking to two ladies.
Robert.
To two plain middleaged ladies, yes.
Bertha.
I recognized you at once. And I saw that you had got fat.
Robert.
[Takes her hand.] And this poor fat Robert—do you dislike him then so much? Do you disbelieve all he says?
Bertha.
I think men speak like that to all women whom they like or admire. What do you want me to believe?
Robert.
All men, Bertha?
Bertha.
[With sudden sadness.] I think so.
Robert.
I too?
Bertha.
Yes, Robert. I think you too.
Robert.
All then—without exception? Or with one exception? [In a lower tone.] Or is he too—Richard too—like us all—in that at least?
Or different?
Bertha.
[Looks into his eyes.] Different.
Robert.
Are you quite sure, Bertha?Bertha.
[A little confused, tries to withdraw her hand.] I have answered you.
Robert.
[Suddenly.] Bertha, may I kiss your hand? Let me. May I?
Bertha.
If you wish.
[He lifts her hand to his lips slowly. She rises suddenly and listens.]
Bertha.
Did you hear the garden gate?
Robert.
[Rising also.] No.
[A short pause. The piano can be heard faintly from the upper room.]
Robert.
[Pleading.] Do not go away. You must never go away now. Your life is here. I came for that too today—to speak to him—to urge
him to accept this position. He must. And you must persuade him to. You have a great influence over him.
Bertha.
You want him to remain here.
Robert.
Yes.
Bertha.
Why?
Robert.
For your sake because you are unhappy so far away. For his too because he should think of his future.
Bertha.
[Laughing.] Do you remember what he said when you spoke to him last night?
Robert.
About...? [Reflecting.] Yes. He quoted the Our Father about our daily bread. He said that to take care for the future is to destroy
hope and love in the world.
Bertha.
Do you not think he is strange?
Robert.
In that, yes.
Bertha.
A little—mad?
Robert.
[Comes closer.] No. He is not. Perhaps we are. Why, do you...?
Bertha.
[Laughs.] I ask you because you are intelligent.
Robert.
You must not go away. I will not let you.
Bertha.
[Looks full at him.] You?
Robert.
Those eyes must not go away. [He takes her hands.] May I kiss your eyes?
Bertha.
Do so.
[He kisses her eyes and then passes his hand over her hair.]
Robert.
Little Bertha!
Bertha.
[Smiling.] But I am not so little. Why do you call me little?
Robert.
Little Bertha! One embrace? [He puts his arm around her.] Look into my eyes again.
Bertha.
[Looks.] I can see the little gold spots. So many you have.
Robert.
[Delighted.] Your voice! Give me a kiss, a kiss with your mouth.
Bertha.
Take it.
Robert.
I am afraid. [He kisses her mouth and passes his hand many times over her hair.] At last I hold you in my arms!
Bertha.And are you satisfied?
Robert.
Let me feel your lips touch mine.
Bertha.
And then you will be satisfied?
Robert.
[Murmurs.] Your lips, Bertha!
Bertha.
[Closes her eyes and kisses him quickly.] There. [Puts her hands on his shoulders.] Why don’t you say: thanks.
Robert.
[Sighs.] My life is finished—over.
Bertha.
O don’t speak like that now, Robert.
Robert.
Over, over. I want to end it and have done with it.
Bertha.
[Concerned but lightly.] You silly fellow!
Robert.
[Presses her to him.] To end it all—death. To fall from a great high cliff, down, right down into the sea.
Bertha.
Please, Robert ...
Robert.
Listening to music and in the arms of the woman I love—the sea, music and death.
Bertha.
[Looks at him for a moment.] The woman you love?
Robert.
[Hurriedly.] I want to speak to you, Bertha—alone—not here. Will you come?
Bertha.
[With downcast eyes.] I too want to speak to you.
Robert.
[Tenderly.] Yes, dear, I know. [ He kisses her again.] I will speak to you; tell you all, then. I will kiss you, then, long long kisses—
when you come to me—long long sweet kisses.
Bertha.
Where?
Robert.
[In the tone of passion.] Your eyes. Your lips. All your divine body.
Bertha.
[Repelling his embrace, confused.] I meant where do you wish me to come.
Robert.
To my house. Not my mother’s over there. I will write the address for you. Will you come?
Bertha.
When?
Robert.
Tonight. Between eight and nine. Come. I will wait for you tonight. And every night. You will?
[He kisses her with passion, holding her head between his hands. After a few instants she breaks from him. He sits down.]
Bertha.
[Listening.] The gate opened.
Robert.
[Intensely.] I will wait for you.
[He takes the slip from the table. Bertha moves away from him slowly. Richard comes in from the garden.]
Richard.
[Advancing, takes off his hat.] Good afternoon.
Robert.
[Rises, with nervous friendliness.] Good afternoon, Richard.
Bertha.
[At the table, taking the roses.] Look what lovely roses Mr Hand brought me.
Robert.
I am afraid they are overblown.
Richard.
[Suddenly.] Excuse me for a moment, will you?
[He turns and goes into his study quickly. Robert takes a pencil from his pocket and writes a few words on the slip; then hands it quickly
to Bertha.]Robert.
[Rapidly.] The address. Take the tram at Lansdowne Road and ask to be let down near there.
Bertha.
[Takes it.] I promise nothing.
Robert.
I will wait.
[Richard comes back from the study.]
Bertha.
[Going.] I must put these roses in water.
Richard.
[Handing her his hat.] Yes, do. And please put my hat on the rack.
Bertha.
[Takes it.] So I will leave you to yourselves for your talk. [Looking round.] Do you want anything? Cigarettes?
Richard.
Thanks. We have them here.
Bertha.
Then I can go?
[She goes out on the left with Richard’s hat, which she leaves in the hall, and returns at once; she stops for a moment at the davenport,
replaces the slip in the drawer, locks it, and replaces the key, and, taking the roses, goes towards the right. Robert precedes her to open the
door for her. She bows and goes out.]
Richard.
[Points to the chair near the little table on the right.] Your place of honour.
Robert.
[Sits down.] Thanks. [Passing his hand over his brow.] Good Lord, how warm it is today! The heat pains me here in the eye. The
glare.
Richard.
The room is rather dark, I think, with the blind down but if you wish ...
Robert.
[Quickly.] Not at all. I know what it is—the result of night work.
Richard.
[Sits on the lounge.] Must you?
Robert.
[Sighs.] Eh, yes. I must see part of the paper through every night. And then my leading articles. We are approaching a difficult
moment. And not only here.
Richard.
[After a slight pause.] Have you any news?
Robert.
[In a different voice.] Yes. I want to speak to you seriously. Today may be an important day for you—or rather, tonight. I saw the
vicechancellor this morning. He has the highest opinion of you, Richard. He has read your book, he said.
Richard.
Did he buy it or borrow it?
Robert.
Bought it, I hope.
Richard.
I shall smoke a cigarette. Thirtyseven copies have now been sold in Dublin.
[He takes a cigarette from the box on the table, and lights it.]
Robert.
[Suavely, hopelessly.] Well, the matter is closed for the present. You have your iron mask on today.
Richard.
[Smoking.] Let me hear the rest.
Robert.
[Again seriously.] Richard, you are too suspicious. It is a defect in you. He assured me he has the highest possible opinion of you,
as everyone has. You are the man for the post, he says. In fact, he told me that, if your name goes forward, he will work might
and main for you with the senate and I ... will do my part, of course, in the press and privately. I regard it as a public duty. The
chair of romance literature is yours by right, as a scholar, as a literary personality.
Richard.
The conditions?
Robert.
Conditions? You mean about the future?
Richard.
I mean about the past.
Robert.
[Easily.] That episode in your past is forgotten. An act of impulse. We are all impulsive.Richard.
[Looks fixedly at him.] You called it an act of folly, then—nine years ago. You told me I was hanging a weight about my neck.
Robert.
I was wrong. [Suavely.] Here is how the matter stands, Richard. Everyone knows that you ran away years ago with a young girl ...
How shall I put it? ... with a young girl not exactly your equal. [Kindly.] Excuse me, Richard, that is not my opinion nor my
language. I am simply using the language of people whose opinions I don’t share.
Richard.
Writing one of your leading articles, in fact.
Robert.
Put it so. Well, it made a great sensation at the time. A mysterious disappearance. My name was involved too, as best man, let us
say, on that famous occasion. Of course, they think I acted from a mistaken sense of friendship. Well, all that is known. [With
some hesitation.] But what happened afterwards is not known.
Richard.
No?
Robert.
Of course, it is your affair, Richard. However, you are not so young now as you were then. The expression is quite in the style of
my leading articles, isn’t it?
Richard.
Do you, or do you not, want me to give the lie to my past life?
Robert.
I am thinking of your future life—here. I understand your pride and your sense of liberty. I understand their point of view also.
However, there is a way out; it is simply this. Refrain from contradicting any rumours you may hear concerning what happened
... or did not happen after you went away. Leave the rest to me.
Richard.
You will set these rumours afloat?
Robert.
I will. God help me.
Richard.
[Observing him.] For the sake of social conventions?
Robert.
For the sake of something else too—our friendship, our lifelong friendship.
Richard.
Thanks.
Robert.
[Slightly wounded.] And I will tell you the whole truth.
Richard.
[Smiles and bows.] Yes. Do, please.
Robert.
Not only for your sake. Also for the sake of—your present partner in life.
Richard.
I see.
[He crushes his cigarette softly on the ashtray and then leans forward, rubbing his hands slowly.]
Richard.
Why for her sake?
Robert.
[Also leans forward, quietly.] Richard, have you been quite fair to her? It was her own free choice, you will say. But was she really
free to choose? She was a mere girl. She accepted all that you proposed.
Richard.
[Smiles.] That is your way of saying that she proposed what I would not accept.
Robert.
[Nods.] I remember. And she went away with you. But was it of her own free choice? Answer me frankly.
Richard.
[Turns to him, calmly.] I played for her against all that you say or can say; and I won.
Robert.
[Nodding again.] Yes, you won.
Richard.
[Rises.] Excuse me for forgetting. Will you have some whisky?
Robert.
All things come to those who wait.
[Richard goes to the sideboard and brings a small tray with the decanter and glasses to the table where he sets it down.]
Richard.
[Sits down again, leaning back on the lounge.] Will you please help yourself?
Robert.[Does so.] And you? Steadfast? [Richard shakes his head.] Lord, when I think of our wild nights long ago—talks by the hour, plans,
carouses, revelry ...
Richard.
In our house.
Robert.
It is mine now. I have kept it ever since though I don’t go there often. Whenever you like to come let me know. You must come
some night. It will be old times again. [He lifts his glass and drinks.] Prosit!
Richard.
It was not only a house of revelry; it was to be the hearth of a new life. [Musing.] And in that name all our sins were committed.
Robert.
Sins! Drinking and blasphemy [he points] by me. And drinking and heresy, much worse, [he points again] by you—are those the
sins you mean?
Richard.
And some others.
Robert.
[Lightly, uneasily.] You mean the women. I have no remorse of conscience. Maybe you have. We had two keys on those
occasions. [Maliciously.] Have you?
Richard.
[Irritated.] For you it was all quite natural?
Robert.
For me it is quite natural to kiss a woman whom I like. Why not? She is beautiful for me.
Richard.
[Toying with the lounge cushion.] Do you kiss everything that is beautiful for you?
Robert.
Everything—if it can be kissed. [He takes up a flat stone which lies on the table.] This stone, for instance. It is so cool, so polished,
so delicate, like a woman’s temple. It is silent, it suffers our passion; and it is beautiful. [He places it against his lips.] And so I kiss
it because it is beautiful. And what is a woman? A work of nature, too, like a stone or a flower or a bird. A kiss is an act of
homage.
Richard.
It is an act of union between man and woman. Even if we are often led to desire through the sense of beauty can you say that the
beautiful is what we desire?
Robert.
[Pressing the stone to his forehead.] You will give me a headache if you make me think today. I cannot think today. I feel too
natural, too common. After all, what is most attractive in even the most beautiful woman?
Richard.
What?
Robert.
Not those qualities which she has and other women have not but the qualities which she has in common with them. I mean ...
the commonest. [Turning over the stone, he presses the other side to his forehead.] I mean how her body develops heat when it is
pressed, the movement of her blood, how quickly she changes by digestion what she eats into—what shall be nameless.
[Laughing.] I am very common today. Perhaps that idea never struck you?
Richard.
[Drily.] Many ideas strike a man who has lived nine years with a woman.
Robert.
Yes. I suppose they do.... This beautiful cool stone does me good. Is it a paperweight or a cure for headache?
Richard.
Bertha brought it home one day from the strand. She, too, says that it is beautiful.
Robert.
[Lays down the stone quietly.] She is right.
[He raises his glass and drinks. A pause.]
Richard.
Is that all you wanted to say to me?
Robert.
[Quickly.] There is something else. The vicechancellor sends you, through me, an invitation for tonight—to dinner at his house.
You know where he lives? [Richard nods.] I thought you might have forgotten. Strictly private, of course. He wants to meet you
again and sends you a very warm invitation.
Richard.
For what hour?
Robert.
Eight. But, like yourself, he is free and easy about time. Now, Richard, you must go there. That is all. I feel tonight will be the
turningpoint in your life. You will live here and work here and think here and be honoured here—among our people.
Richard.
[Smiling.] I can almost see two envoys starting for the United States to collect funds for my statue a hundred years hence.
Robert.[Agreeably.] Once I made a little epigram about statues. All statues are of two kinds. [He folds his arms across his chest.] The statue
which says: How shall I get down? and the other kind [he unfolds his arms and extends his right arm, averting his head] the statue
which says: In my time the dunghill was so high.
Richard.
The second one for me, please.
Robert.
[Lazily.] Will you give me one of those long cigars of yours?
[Richard selects a Virginia cigar from the box on the table and hands it to him with the straw drawn out.]
Robert.
[Lighting it.] These cigars Europeanize me. If Ireland is to become a new Ireland she must first become European. And that is
what you are here for, Richard. Some day we shall have to choose between England and Europe. I am a descendant of the dark
foreigners: that is why I like to be here. I may be childish. But where else in Dublin can I get a bandit cigar like this or a cup of
black coffee? The man who drinks black coffee is going to conquer Ireland. And now I will take just a half measure of that
whisky, Richard, to show you there is no ill feeling.
Richard.
[Points.] Help yourself.
Robert.
[Does so.] Thanks. [He drinks and goes on as before.] Then you yourself, the way you loll on that lounge: then your boy’s voice and
also—Bertha herself. Do you allow me to call her that, Richard? I mean as an old friend of both of you.
Richard.
O why not?
Robert.
[With animation.] You have that fierce indignation which lacerated the heart of Swift. You have fallen from a higher world,
Richard, and you are filled with fierce indignation when you find that life is cowardly and ignoble. While I ... shall I tell you?
Richard.
By all means.
Robert.
[Archly.] I have come up from a lower world and I am filled with astonishment when I find that people have any redeeming
virtue at all.
Richard.
[Sits up suddenly and leans his elbows on the table.] You are my friend, then?
Robert.
[Gravely.] I fought for you all the time you were away. I fought to bring you back. I fought to keep your place for you here. I will
fight for you still because I have faith in you, the faith of a disciple in his master. I cannot say more than that. It may seem
strange to you ... Give me a match.
Richard.
[Lights and offers him a match.] There is a faith still stranger than the faith of the disciple in his master.
Robert.
And that is?
Richard.
The faith of a master in the disciple who will betray him.
Robert.
The church lost a theologian in you, Richard. But I think you look too deeply into life. [He rises, pressing Richard’s arm slightly.] Be
gay. Life is not worth it.
Richard.
[Without rising.] Are you going?
Robert.
Must. [He turns and says in a friendly tone.] Then it is all arranged. We meet tonight at the vicechancellor’s. I shall look in at about
ten. So you can have an hour or so to yourselves first. You will wait till I come?
Richard.
Good.
Robert.
One more match and I am happy.
[Richard strikes another match, hands it to him and rises also. Archie comes in by the door on the left, followed by Beatrice.]
Robert.
Congratulate me, Beatty. I have won over Richard.
Archie.
[Crossing to the door on the right, calls.] Mamma, Miss Justice is going.
Beatrice.
On what are you to be congratulated?
Robert.
On a victory, of course. [Laying his hand lightly on Richard’s shoulder.] The descendant of Archibald Hamilton Rowan has come
home.
Richard.I am not a descendant of Hamilton Rowan.
Robert.
What matter?
[Bertha comes in from the right with a bowl of roses.]
Beatrice.
Has Mr. Rowan...?
Robert.
[Turning towards Bertha.] Richard is coming tonight to the vicechancellor’s dinner. The fatted calf will be eaten: roast, I hope.
And next session will see the descendant of a namesake of etcetera, etcetera in a chair of the university. [He offers his hand.] Good
afternoon, Richard. We shall meet tonight.
Richard.
[Touches his hand.] At Philippi.
Beatrice.
[Shakes hands also.] Accept my best wishes, Mr Rowan.
Richard.
Thanks. But do not believe him.
Robert.
[Vivaciously.] Believe me, believe me. [To Bertha.] Good afternoon, Mrs Rowan.
Bertha.
[Shaking hands, candidly.] I thank you, too. [To Beatrice.] You won’t stay to tea, Miss Justice?
Beatrice.
No, thank you. [Takes leave of her.] I must go. Good afternoon. Goodbye, Archie [going].
Robert.
Addio, Archibald.
Archie.
Addio.
Robert.
Wait, Beatty. I shall accompany you.
Beatrice.
[Going out on the right with Bertha.] Oh, don’t trouble.
Robert.
[Following her.] But I insist—as a cousin.
[Bertha, Beatrice, and Robert go out by the door on the left. Richard stands irresolutely near the table. Archie closes the door leading to
the hall and, coming over to him, plucks him by the sleeve.]
Archie.
I say, pappie!
Richard.
[Absently.] What is it?
Archie.
I want to ask you a thing.
Richard.
[Sitting on the end of the lounge, stares in front of him.] What is it?
Archie.
Will you ask mamma to let me go out in the morning with the milkman?
Richard.
With the milkman?
Archie.
Yes. In the milkcar. He says he will let me drive when we get on to the roads where there are no people. The horse is a very good
beast. Can I go?
Richard.
Yes.
Archie.
Ask mamma now can I go. Will you?
Richard.
[Glances towards the door.] I will.
Archie.
He said he will show me the cows he has in the field. Do you know how many cows he has?
Richard.
How many?
Archie.
Eleven. Eight red and three white. But one is sick now. No, not sick. But it fell.
Richard.Cows?
Archie.
[With a gesture.] Eh! Not bulls. Because bulls give no milk. Eleven cows. They must give a lot of milk. What makes a cow give
milk?
Richard.
[Takes his hand.] Who knows? Do you understand what it is to give a thing?
Archie.
To give? Yes.
Richard.
While you have a thing it can be taken from you.
Archie.
By robbers? No?
Richard.
But when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. [He bends his head and presses his son’s hand against his
cheek.] It is yours then for ever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give.
Archie.
But, pappie?
Richard.
Yes?
Archie.
How could a robber rob a cow? Everyone would see him. In the night, perhaps.
Richard.
In the night, yes.
Archie.
Are there robbers here like in Rome?
Richard.
There are poor people everywhere.
Archie.
Have they revolvers?
Richard.
No.
Archie.
Knives? Have they knives?
Richard.
[Sternly.] Yes, yes. Knives and revolvers.
Archie.
[Disengages himself.] Ask mamma now. She is coming.
Richard.
[Makes a movement to rise.] I will.
Archie.
No, sit there, pappie. You wait and ask her when she comes back. I won’t be here. I’ll be in the garden.
Richard.
[Sinking back again.] Yes. Go.
Archie.
[Kisses him swiftly.] Thanks.
[He runs out quickly by the door at the back leading into the garden. Bertha enters by the door on the left. She approaches the table and
stands beside it, fingering the petals of the roses, looking at Richard.]
Richard.
[Watching her.] Well?
Bertha.
[Absently.] Well. He says he likes me.
Richard.
[Leans his chin on his hand.] You showed him his note?
Bertha.
Yes. I asked him what it meant.
Richard.
What did he say it meant?
Bertha.
He said I must know. I said I had an idea. Then he told me he liked me very much. That I was beautiful—and all that.
Richard.
Since when!
Bertha.[Again absently.] Since when—what?
Richard.
Since when did he say he liked you?
Bertha.
Always, he said. But more since we came back. He said I was like the moon in this lavender dress. [Looking at him.] Had you any
words with him—about me?
Richard.
[Blandly.] The usual thing. Not about you.
Bertha.
He was very nervous. You saw that?
Richard.
Yes. I saw it. What else went on?
Bertha.
He asked me to give him my hand.
Richard.
[Smiling.] In marriage?
Bertha.
[Smiling.] No, only to hold.
Richard.
Did you?
Bertha.
Yes. [Tearing off a few petals.] Then he caressed my hand and asked would I let him kiss it. I let him.
Richard.
Well?
Bertha.
Then he asked could he embrace me—even once? ... And then ...
Richard.
And then?
Bertha.
He put his arm round me.
Richard.
[Stares at the floor for a moment, then looks at her again.] And then?
Bertha.
He said I had beautiful eyes. And asked could he kiss them. [With a gesture.] I said: Do so.
Richard.
And he did?
Bertha.
Yes. First one and then the other. [ She breaks off suddenly.] Tell me, Dick, does all this disturb you? Because I told you I don’t
want that. I think you are only pretending you don’t mind. I don’t mind.
Richard.
[Quietly.] I know, dear. But I want to find out what he means or feels just as you do.
Bertha.
[Points at him.] Remember, you allowed me to go on. I told you the whole thing from the beginning.
Richard.
[As before.] I k