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.


when she drew near the limit and her friends began to loosen their tongues about her,

she silenced them by marrying Mr. Kearney,

who was a bootmaker on Ormond Quay.

He was much older than she.

His conversation,

which was serious,

took place at intervals in his great brown beard.

After the first year of married life,

Mrs. Kearney perceived that such a man would wear better than a romantic person,

but she never put her own romantic ideas away.

He was sober,

thrifty and pious;

he went to the altar every first Friday,

sometimes with her,

oftener by himself.

But she never weakened in her religion and was a good wife to him.

At some party in a strange house when she lifted her eyebrow ever so slightly he stood up to take his leave and,

when his cough troubled him,

she put the eider-down quilt over his feet and made a strong rum punch.

For his part,

he was a model father.

By paying a small sum every week into a society,

he ensured for both his daughters a dowry of one hundred pounds each when they came to the age of twenty-four.

He sent the older daughter,


to a good convent,

where she learned French and music,

and afterward paid her fees at the Academy.

Every year in the month of July Mrs. Kearney found occasion to say to some friend:

"My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks."

If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones.

When the Irish Revival began to be appreciable Mrs. Kearney determined to take advantage of her daughter's name and brought an Irish teacher to the house.

Kathleen and her sister sent Irish picture postcards to their friends and these friends sent back other Irish picture postcards.

On special Sundays,

when Mr. Kearney went with his family to the pro-cathedral,

a little crowd of people would assemble after mass at the corner of Cathedral Street.

They were all friends of the Kearneys --musical friends or Nationalist friends;


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,


that she was a believer in the language movement.

Mrs. Kearney was well content at this.

Therefore she was not surprised when one day Mr. Holohan came to her and proposed that her daughter should be the accompanist at a series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give in the Antient Concert Rooms.

She brought him into the drawing-room,

made him sit down and brought out the decanter and the silver biscuit-barrel.

She entered heart and soul into the details of the enterprise,

advised and dissuaded: and finally a contract was drawn up by which Kathleen was to receive eight guineas for her services as accompanist at the four grand concerts.

As Mr. Holohan was a novice in such delicate matters as the wording of bills and the disposing of items for a programme,

Mrs. Kearney helped him.

She had tact.

She knew what artistes should go into capitals and what artistes should go into small type.

She knew that the first tenor would not like to come on after Mr. Meade's comic turn.

To keep the audience continually diverted she slipped the doubtful items in between the old favourites.

Mr. Holohan called to see her every day to have her advice on some point.

She was invariably friendly and advising --homely,

in fact.

She pushed the decanter towards him,



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,


thanks to her,

everything that was to be done was done.

The concerts were to be on Wednesday,


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.


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,


while he was talking to her,

he chewed one end of it into a moist pulp.

He seemed to bear disappointments lightly.

Mr. Holohan came into the dressingroom every few minutes with reports from the box-office.

The artistes talked among themselves nervously,

glanced from time to time at the mirror and rolled and unrolled their music.

When it was nearly half-past eight,

the few people in the hall began to express their desire to be entertained.

Mr. Fitzpatrick came in,

smiled vacantly at the room,

and said:

"Well now,

ladies and gentlemen.

I suppose we'd better open the ball."

Mrs. Kearney rewarded his very flat final syllable with a quick stare of contempt,

and then said to her daughter encouragingly:

"Are you ready,


When she had an opportunity,

she called Mr. Holohan aside and asked him to tell her what it meant.

Mr. Holohan did not know what it meant.

He said that the Committee had made a mistake in arranging for four concerts: four was too many.

"And the artistes!"

said Mrs. Kearney.

"Of course they are doing their best,

but really they are not good."

Mr. Holohan admitted that the artistes were no good but the Committee,

he said,

had decided to let the first three concerts go as they pleased and reserve all the talent for Saturday night.

Mrs. Kearney said nothing,


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.


she said nothing and waited to see how it would end.

The concert expired shortly before ten,

and everyone went home quickly.

The concert on Thursday night was better attended,

but Mrs. Kearney saw at once that the house was filled with paper.

The audience behaved indecorously,

as if the concert were an informal dress rehearsal.

Mr. Fitzpatrick seemed to enjoy himself;

he was quite unconscious that Mrs. Kearney was taking angry note of his conduct.

He stood at the edge of the screen,

from time to time jutting out his head and exchanging a laugh with two friends in the corner of the balcony.

In the course of the evening,

Mrs. Kearney learned that the Friday concert was to be abandoned and that the Committee was going to move heaven and earth to secure a bumper house on Saturday night.

When she heard this,

she sought out Mr. Holohan.

She buttonholed him as he was limping out quickly with a glass of lemonade for a young lady and asked him was it true.


it was true.


of course,

that doesn't alter the contract,"

she said.

"The contract was for four concerts."

Mr. Holohan seemed to be in a hurry;

he advised her to speak to Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mrs. Kearney was now beginning to be alarmed.

She called Mr. Fitzpatrick away from his screen and told him that her daughter had signed for four concerts and that,

of course,

according to the terms of the contract,

she should receive the sum originally stipulated for,

whether the society gave the four concerts or not.

Mr. Fitzpatrick,

who did not catch the point at issue very quickly,

seemed unable to resolve the difficulty and said that he would bring the matter before the Committee.

Mrs. Kearney's anger began to flutter in her cheek and she had all she could do to keep from asking:

"And who is the Cometty pray?"

But she knew that it would not be ladylike to do that: so she was silent.

Little boys were sent out into the principal streets of Dublin early on Friday morning with bundles of handbills.

Special puffs appeared in all the evening papers,

reminding the music-loving public of the treat which was in store for it on the following evening.

Mrs. Kearney was somewhat reassured,

but 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:


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:



We did our best,

the dear knows."

Mrs. Kearney had to go back to the dressing-room.

The artistes were arriving.

The bass and the second tenor had already come.

The bass,

Mr. Duggan,

was a slender young man with a scattered black moustache.

He was the son of a hall porter in an office in the city and,

as a boy,

he had sung prolonged bass notes in the resounding hall.

From this humble state he had raised himself until he had become a first-rate artiste.

He had appeared in grand opera.

One night,

when an operatic artiste had fallen ill,

he had undertaken the part of the king in the opera of Maritana at the Queen's Theatre.

He sang his music with great feeling and volume and was warmly welcomed by the gallery;



he marred the good impression by wiping his nose in his gloved hand once or twice out of thoughtlessness.

He was unassuming and spoke little.

He said yous so softly that it passed unnoticed and he never drank anything stronger than milk for his voice's sake.

Mr. Bell,

the second tenor,

was a fair-haired little man who competed every year for prizes at the Feis Ceoil.

On his fourth trial he had been awarded a bronze medal.

He was extremely nervous and extremely jealous of other tenors and he covered his nervous jealousy with an ebullient friendliness.

It was his humour to have people know what an ordeal a concert was to him.

Therefore when he saw Mr. Duggan he went over to him and asked:

"Are you in it too?"


said Mr. Duggan.

Mr. Bell laughed at his fellow-sufferer,

held out his hand and said:


Mrs. Kearney passed by these two young men and went to the edge of the screen to view the house.

The seats were being filled up rapidly and a pleasant noise circulated in the auditorium.

She came back and spoke to her husband privately.

Their conversation was evidently about Kathleen for they both glanced at her often as she stood chatting to one of her Nationalist friends,

Miss Healy,

the contralto.

An unknown solitary woman with a pale face walked through the room.

The women followed with keen eyes the faded blue dress which was stretched upon a meagre body.

Someone said that she was Madam Glynn,

the soprano.

"I wonder where did they dig her up,"

said Kathleen to Miss Healy.

"I'm sure I never heard of her."

Miss Healy had to smile.

Mr. Holohan limped into the dressing-room at that moment and the two young ladies asked him who was the unknown woman.

Mr. Holohan said that she was Madam Glynn from London.

Madam Glynn took her stand in a corner of the room,

holding a roll of music stiffly before her and from time to time changing the direction of her startled gaze.

The shadow took her faded dress into shelter but fell revengefully into the little cup behind her collar-bone.

The noise of the hall became more audible.

The first tenor and the baritone arrived together.

They were both well dressed,

stout and complacent and they brought a breath of opulence among the company.

Mrs. Kearney brought her daughter over to them,

and talked to them amiably.

She wanted to be on good terms with them but,

while she strove to be polite,

her eyes followed Mr. Holohan in his limping and devious courses.

As soon as she could she excused herself and went out after 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?


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.


won't you have a little something before you go?"

"I don't mind,"

said Mr. Hendrick.

The two men went along some tortuous passages and up a dark staircase and came to a secluded room where one of the stewards was uncorking bottles for a few gentlemen.

One of these gentlemen was Mr. O'Madden Burke,

who had found out the room by instinct.

He was a suave,

elderly man who balanced his imposing body,

when at rest,

upon a large silk umbrella.

His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances.

He was widely respected.

While Mr. Holohan was entertaining the Freeman man Mrs. Kearney was speaking so animatedly to her husband that he had to ask her to lower her voice.

The conversation of the others in the dressing-room had become strained.

Mr. Bell,

the first item,

stood ready with his music but the accompanist made no sign.

Evidently something was wrong.

Mr. Kearney looked straight before him,

stroking his beard,

while Mrs. Kearney spoke into Kathleen's ear with subdued emphasis.

From the hall came sounds of encouragement,

clapping and stamping of feet.

The first tenor and the baritone and Miss Healy stood together,

waiting tranquilly,

but Mr. Bell's nerves were greatly agitated because he was afraid the audience would think that he had come late.

Mr. Holohan and Mr. O'Madden Burke came into the room.

In a moment Mr. Holohan perceived the hush.

He went over to Mrs. Kearney and spoke with her earnestly.

While they were speaking the noise in the hall grew louder.

Mr. Holohan became very red and excited.

He spoke volubly,

but Mrs. Kearney said curtly at intervals:

"She won't go on.

She must get her eight guineas."

Mr. Holohan pointed desperately towards the hall where the audience was clapping and stamping.

He appealed to Mr Kearney and to Kathleen.

But Mr. Kearney continued to stroke his beard and Kathleen looked down,

moving the point of her new shoe: it was not her fault.

Mrs. Kearney repeated:

"She won't go on without her money."

After a swift struggle of tongues Mr. Holohan hobbled out in haste.

The room was silent.

When the strain of the silence had become somewhat painful Miss Healy said to the baritone:

"Have you seen Mrs. Pat Campbell this week?"

The baritone had not seen her but he had been told that she was very fine.

The conversation went no further.

The first tenor bent his head and began to count the links of the gold chain which was extended across his waist,

smiling and humming random notes to observe the effect on the frontal sinus.

From time to time everyone glanced at Mrs. Kearney.

The noise in the auditorium had risen to a clamour when Mr. Fitzpatrick burst into the room,

followed by Mr. Holohan,

who was panting.

The clapping and stamping in the hall were punctuated by whistling.

Mr. Fitzpatrick held a few banknotes in his hand.

He counted out four into Mrs. Kearney's hand and said she would get the other half at the interval.

Mrs. Kearney said:

"This is four shillings short."

But Kathleen gathered in her skirt and said:


Mr. Bell,"

to the first item,

who was shaking like an aspen.

The singer and the accompanist went out together.

The noise in hall died away.

There was a pause of a few seconds: and then the piano was heard.

The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam Glynn's item.

The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping voice,

with all the old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation which she believed lent elegance to her singing.

She looked as if she had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her high wailing notes.

The first tenor and the contralto,


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;


when it was ended,

the men went out for the interval,


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.


he said that Mrs. Kearney might have taken the artistes into consideration.

The stewards and the secretaries debated hotly as to what should be done when the interval came.

"I agree with Miss Beirne,"

said Mr. O'Madden Burke.

"Pay her nothing."

In another corner of the room were Mrs. Kearney and her husband,

Mr. Bell,

Miss Healy and the young lady who had to recite the patriotic piece.

Mrs. Kearney said that the Committee had treated her scandalously.

She had spared neither trouble nor expense and this was how she was repaid.

They thought they had only a girl to deal with and that,


they could ride roughshod over her.

But she would show them their mistake.

They wouldn't have dared to have treated her like that if she had been a man.

But she would see that her daughter got her rights: she wouldn't be fooled.

If they didn't pay her to the last farthing she would make Dublin ring.

Of course she was sorry for the sake of the artistes.

But what else could she do?

She appealed to the second tenor who said he thought she had not been well treated.

Then she appealed to Miss Healy.

Miss Healy wanted to join the other group but she did not like to do so because she was a great friend of Kathleen's and the Kearneys had often invited her to their house.

As soon as the first part was ended Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Holohan went over to Mrs. Kearney and told her that the other four guineas would be paid after the Committee meeting on the following Tuesday and that,

in case her daughter did not play for the second part,

the Committee would consider the contract broken and would pay nothing.

"I haven't seen any Committee,"

said Mrs. Kearney angrily.

"My daughter has her contract.

She will get four pounds eight into her hand or a foot she won't put on that platform."

"I'm surprised at you,

Mrs. Kearney,"

said Mr. Holohan.

"I never thought you would treat us this way."

"And what way did you treat me?"

asked Mrs. Kearney.

Her face was inundated with an angry colour and she looked as if she would attack someone with her hands.

"I'm asking for my rights."

she said.

"You might have some sense of decency,"

said Mr. Holohan.

"Might I,

indeed? ...

And when I ask when my daughter is going to be paid I can't get a civil answer."

She tossed her head and assumed a haughty voice:

"You must speak to the secretary.

It's not my business.

I'm a great fellow fol-the-diddle-I-do."

"I thought you were a lady,"

said Mr. Holohan,

walking away from her abruptly.

After that Mrs. Kearney's conduct was condemned on all hands: everyone approved of what the Committee had done.

She stood at the door,

haggard with rage,

arguing with her husband and daughter,

gesticulating with them.

She waited until it was time for the second part to begin in the hope that the secretaries would approach her.

But Miss Healy had kindly consented to play one or two accompaniments.

Mrs. Kearney had to stand aside to allow the baritone and his accompanist to pass up to the platform.

She stood still for an instant like an angry stone image and,

when the first notes of the song struck her ear,

she caught up her daughter's cloak and said to her husband:

"Get a cab!"

He went out at once.

Mrs. Kearney wrapped the cloak round her daughter and followed him.

As she passed through the doorway she stopped and glared into Mr. Holohan's face.

"I'm not done with you yet,"

she said.

"But I'm done with you,"

said Mr. Holohan.

Kathleen followed her mother meekly.

Mr. Holohan began to pace up and down the room,

in order to cool himself for he his skin on fire.

"That's a nice lady!"

he said.


she's a nice lady!"

"You did the proper thing,


said Mr. O'Madden Burke,

poised upon his umbrella in approval.


TWO GENTLEMEN who were in the lavatory at the time tried to lift him up: but he was quite helpless.

He lay curled up at the foot of the stairs down which he had fallen.

They succeeded in turning him over.

His hat had rolled a few yards away and his clothes were smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain,

face downwards.

His eyes were closed and he breathed with a grunting noise.

A thin stream of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the stairs and laid him down again on the floor of the bar.

In two minutes he was surrounded by a ring of men.

The manager of the bar asked everyone who he was and who was with him.

No one knew who he was but one of the curates said he had served the gentleman with a small rum.

"Was he by himself?"

asked the manager.



There was two gentlemen with him."

"And where are they?"

No one knew;

a voice said:

"Give him air.

He's fainted."

The ring of onlookers distended and closed again elastically.

A dark medal of blood had formed itself near the man's head on the tessellated floor.

The manager,

alarmed by the grey pallor of the man's face,

sent for a policeman.

His collar was unfastened and his necktie undone.

He opened eyes for an instant,

sighed and closed them again.

One of gentlemen who had carried him upstairs held a dinged silk hat in his hand.

The manager asked repeatedly did no one know who the injured man was or where had his friends gone.

The door of the bar opened and an immense constable entered.

A crowd which had followed him down the laneway collected outside the door,

struggling to look in through the glass panels.

The manager at once began to narrate what he knew.

The constable,

a young man with thick immobile features,


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,


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:



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,


"It's all right,


I'll see him home."

The constable touched his helmet and answered:

"All right,

Mr. Power!"

"Come now,


said Mr. Power,

taking his friend by the arm.

"No bones broken.


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.



'uch o'liged to you,


said the injured man.

"Not at all."

"'ant we have a little ...?"

"Not now.

Not now."

The three men left the bar and the crowd sifted through the doors in to the laneway.

The manager brought the constable to the stairs to inspect the scene of the accident.

They agreed that the gentleman must have missed his footing.

The customers returned to the counter and a curate set about removing the traces of blood from the floor.

When they came out into Grafton Street,

Mr. Power whistled for an outsider.

The injured man said again as well as he could.



'uch o'liged to you,


I hope we'll

'eet again.

'y na'e is Kernan."

The shock and the incipient pain had partly sobered him.

"Don't mention it,"

said the young man.

They shook hands.

Mr. Kernan was hoisted on to the car and,

while Mr. Power was giving directions to the carman,

he expressed his gratitude to the young man and regretted that they could not have a little drink together.

"Another time,"

said the young man.

The car drove off towards Westmoreland Street.

As it passed Ballast Office the clock showed half-past nine.

A keen east wind hit them,

blowing from the mouth of the river.

Mr. Kernan was huddled together with cold.

His friend asked him to tell how the accident had happened.



he answered,


'ongue is hurt."


The other leaned over the well of the car and peered into Mr. Kernan's mouth but he could not see.

He struck a match and,

sheltering it in the shell of his hands,

peered again into the mouth which Mr. Kernan opened obediently.

The swaying movement of the car brought the match to and from the opened mouth.

The lower teeth and gums were covered with clotted blood and a minute piece of the tongue seemed to have been bitten off.

The match was blown out.

"That's ugly,"

said Mr. Power.


's nothing,"

said Mr. Kernan,

closing his mouth and pulling the collar of his filthy coat across his neck.

Mr. Kernan was a commercial traveller of the old school which believed in the dignity of its calling.

He had never been seen in the city without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters.

By grace of these two articles of clothing,

he said,

a man could always pass muster.

He carried on the tradition of his Napoleon,

the great Blackwhite,

whose memory he evoked at times by legend and mimicry.

Modern business methods had spared him only so far as to allow him a little office in Crowe Street,

on the window blind of which was written the name of his firm with the address --London,

E. C. On the mantelpiece of this little office a little leaden battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table before the window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half full of a black liquid.

From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea.

He took a mouthful,

drew it up,

saturated his palate with it and then spat it forth into the grate.

Then he paused to judge.

Mr. Power,

a much younger man,

was employed in the Royal Irish Constabulary Office in Dublin Castle.

The arc of his social rise intersected the arc of his friend's decline,

but Mr. Kernan's decline was mitigated by the fact that certain of those friends who had known him at his highest point of success still esteemed him as a character.

Mr. Power was one of these friends.

His inexplicable debts were a byword in his circle;

he was a debonair young man.

The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr. Kernan was helped into the house.

His wife put him to bed while Mr. Power sat downstairs in the kitchen asking the children where they went to school and what book they were in.

The children --two girls and a boy,

conscious of their father's helplessness and of their mother's absence,

began some horseplay with him.

He was surprised at their manners and at their accents,

and his brow grew thoughtful.

After a while Mrs. Kernan entered the kitchen,


"Such a sight!


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,



you needn't tell me that,

Mr. Power.

I know you're a friend of his,

not like some of the others he does be with.

They're all right so long as he has money in his pocket to keep him out from his wife and family.

Nice friends!

Who was he with tonight,

I'd like to know?"

Mr. Power shook his head but said nothing.

"I'm so sorry,"

she continued,

"that I've nothing in the house to offer you.

But if you wait a minute I'll send round to Fogarty's at the corner."

Mr. Power stood up.

"We were waiting for him to come home with the money.

He never seems to think he has a home at all."



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.


Mrs. Kernan."

* * * * *

Mrs. Kernan's puzzled eyes watched the car till it was out of sight.

Then she withdrew them,

went into the house and emptied her husband's pockets.

She was an active,

practical woman of middle age.

Not long before she had celebrated her silver wedding and renewed her intimacy with her husband by waltzing with him to Mr. Power's accompaniment.

In her days of courtship,

Mr. Kernan had seemed to her a not ungallant figure: and she still hurried to the chapel door whenever a wedding was reported and,

seeing the bridal pair,

recalled with vivid pleasure how she had passed out of the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount,

leaning on the arm of a jovial well-fed man,

who was dressed smartly in a frock-coat and lavender trousers and carried a silk hat gracefully balanced upon his other arm.

After three weeks she had found a wife's life irksome and,

later on,

when she was beginning to find it unbearable,

she had become a mother.

The part of mother presented to her no insuperable difficulties and for twenty-five years she had kept house shrewdly for her husband.

Her two eldest sons were launched.

One was in a draper's shop in Glasgow and the other was clerk to a tea-merchant in Belfast.

They were good sons,

wrote regularly and sometimes sent home money.

The other children were still at school.

Mr. Kernan sent a letter to his office next day and remained in bed.

She made beef-tea for him and scolded him roundly.

She accepted his frequent intemperance as part of the climate,

healed him dutifully whenever he was sick and always tried to make him eat a breakfast.

There were worse husbands.

He had never been violent since the boys had grown up,

and she knew that he would walk to the end of Thomas Street and back again to book even a small order.

Two nights after,

his friends came to see him.

She brought them up to his bedroom,

the air of which was impregnated with a personal odour,

and gave them chairs at the fire.

Mr. Kernan's tongue,

the occasional stinging pain of which had made him somewhat irritable during the day,

became more polite.

He sat propped up in the bed by pillows and the little colour in his puffy cheeks made them resemble warm cinders.

He apologised to his guests for the disorder of the room,

but at the same time looked at them a little proudly,

with a veteran's pride.

He was quite unconscious that he was the victim of a plot which his friends,

Mr. Cunningham,

Mr. M'Coy and Mr. Power had disclosed to Mrs. Kernan in the parlour.

The idea 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,


of giving side-thrusts at Catholicism.

Mr. Cunningham was the very man for such a case.

He was an elder colleague of Mr. Power.

His own domestic life was not very happy.

People had great sympathy with him,

for it was known that he had married an unpresentable woman who was an incurable drunkard.

He had set up house for her six times;

and each time she had pawned the furniture on him.

Everyone had respect for poor Martin Cunningham.

He was a thoroughly sensible man,

influential and intelligent.

His blade of human knowledge,

natural astuteness particularised by long association with cases in the police courts,

had been tempered by brief immersions in the waters of general philosophy.

He was well informed.

His friends bowed to his opinions and considered that his face was like Shakespeare's.

When the plot had been disclosed to her,

Mrs. Kernan had said:

"I leave it all in your hands,

Mr. Cunningham."

After a quarter of a century of married life,

she had very few illusions left.

Religion for her was a habit,

and she suspected that a man of her husband's age would not change greatly before death.

She was tempted to see a curious appropriateness in his accident and,

but that she did not wish to seem bloody-minded,

would have told the gentlemen that Mr. Kernan's tongue would not suffer by being shortened.


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,


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.


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.


Not much,"

answered Mr. Kernan.

"But it's so sickening.

I feel as if I wanted to retch off."

"That's the boose,"

said Mr. Cunningham firmly.


said Mr. Kernan.

"I think I caught a cold on the car.

There's something keeps coming into my throat,

phlegm or -- --"


said Mr. M'Coy.

"It keeps coming like from down in my throat;




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:



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?"



said Mr. Cunningham.

When Mr. Cunningham made that remark,

people were silent.

It was known that the speaker had secret sources of information.

In this case the monosyllable had a moral intention.

Mr. Harford sometimes formed one of a little detachment which left the city shortly after noon on Sunday with the purpose of arriving as soon as possible at some public-house on the outskirts of the city where its members duly qualified themselves as bona fide travellers.

But his fellow-travellers had never consented to overlook his origin.

He had begun life as an obscure financier by lending small sums of money to workmen at usurious interest.

Later on he had become the partner of a very fat,

short gentleman,

Mr. Goldberg,

in the Liffey Loan Bank.

Though he had never embraced more than the Jewish ethical code,

his fellow-Catholics,

whenever they had smarted in person or by proxy under his exactions,

spoke of him bitterly as an Irish Jew and an illiterate,

and saw divine disapproval of usury made manifest through the person of his idiot son.

At other times they remembered his good points.

"I wonder where did he go to,"

said Mr. Kernan.

He wished the details of the incident to remain vague.

He wished his friends to think there had been some mistake,

that Mr. Harford and he had missed each other.

His friends,

who knew quite well Mr. Harford's manners in drinking were silent.

Mr. Power said again:

"All's well that ends well."

Mr. Kernan changed the subject at once.

"That was a decent young chap,

that medical fellow,"

he said.

"Only for him -- --"


only for him,"

said Mr. Power,

"it might have been a case of seven days,

without the option of a fine."



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,


said Mr. Cunningham gravely.

"True bill,"

said Mr. Kernan,

equally gravely.

"I suppose you squared the constable,


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,


as if Mr. Kernan had asked it.

The narrative made Mr. Kernan indignant.

He was keenly conscious of his citizenship,

wished to live with his city on terms mutually honourable and resented any affront put upon him by those whom he called country bumpkins.

"Is this what we pay rates for?"

he asked.

"To feed and clothe these ignorant bostooms ...

and they're nothing else."

Mr. Cunningham laughed.

He was a Castle official only during office hours.

"How could they be anything else,


he said.

He assumed a thick,

provincial accent and said in a tone of command:


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,


you know,

to drill.

The sergeant makes them stand in a row against the wall and hold up their plates."

He illustrated the story by grotesque gestures.

"At dinner,

you know.

Then he has a bloody big bowl of cabbage before him on the table and a bloody big spoon like a shovel.

He takes up a wad of cabbage on the spoon and pegs it across the room and the poor devils have to try and catch it on their plates: 65,

catch your cabbage."

Everyone laughed again: but Mr. Kernan was somewhat indignant still.

He talked of writing a letter to the papers.

"These yahoos coming up here,"

he said,

"think they can boss the people.

I needn't tell you,


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,


"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,


"Help yourselves,


Mr. Power stood up to officiate,

offering her his chair.

She declined it,

saying she was ironing downstairs,


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,




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,




said Mr. Power.


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.


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?"


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.



said Mr. Cunningham in an evasive tone,

"it's just a little ...

spiritual matter."


said Mr. Kernan.

There was silence again.

Then Mr. Power said,

point blank:

"To tell you the truth,


we're going to make a retreat."


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,


"You see,

we may as well all admit we're a nice collection of scoundrels,

one and all.

I say,

one and all,"

he added with gruff charity and turning to Mr. Power.

"Own up now!"

"I own up,"

said Mr. Power.

"And I own up,"

said Mr. M'Coy.

"So we're going to wash the pot together,"

said Mr. Cunningham.

A thought seemed to strike him.

He turned suddenly to the invalid and said:

"D'ye know what,


has just occurred to me?

You night join in and we'd have a four-handed reel."

"Good idea,"

said Mr. Power.

"The four of us together."

Mr. Kernan was silent.

The proposal conveyed very little meaning to his mind,


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,


"They're the grandest order in the Church,


said Mr. Cunningham,

with enthusiasm.

"The General of the Jesuits stands next to the Pope."

"There's no mistake about it,"

said Mr. M'Coy,

"if you want a thing well done and no flies about,

you go to a Jesuit.

They're the boyos have influence.

I'll tell you a case in point ...."

"The Jesuits are a fine body of men,"

said Mr. Power.

"It's a curious thing,"

said Mr. Cunningham,

"about the Jesuit Order.

Every other order of the Church had to be reformed at some time or other but the Jesuit Order was never once reformed.

It never fell away."

"Is that so?"

asked Mr. M'Coy.

"That's a fact,"

said Mr. Cunningham.

"That's history."

"Look at their church,


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.


said Mr. Kernan.

"That's why I have a feeling for them.

It's some of those secular priests,


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,


"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.


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,


said Mr. Power persuasively.

"Father Purdon?

Father Purdon?"

said the invalid.


you must know him,


said Mr. Cunningham stoutly.


jolly fellow!

He's a man of the world like ourselves."

"Ah, ...


I think I know him.

Rather red face;


"That's the man."

"And tell me,

Martin ....

Is he a good preacher?"

"Munno ....

It's not exactly a sermon,

you know.

It's just kind of a friendly talk,

you know,

in a common-sense way."

Mr. Kernan deliberated.

Mr. M'Coy said:

"Father Tom Burke,

that was the boy!"


Father Tom Burke,"

said Mr. Cunningham,

"that was a born orator.

Did you ever hear him,


"Did I ever hear him!"

said the invalid,



I heard him ...."

"And yet they say he wasn't much of a theologian,"

said Mr Cunningham.

"Is that so?"

said Mr. M'Coy.


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 ...


you know ...

the -- --"

"The body,"

said Mr. Cunningham.


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!


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,


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.


he said,

'we worship at different altars,

he said,

but our belief is the same.'

Struck me as very well put."

"There's a good deal in that,"

said Mr. Power.

"There used always to be crowds of Protestants in the chapel where Father Tom was preaching."

"There's not much difference between us,"

said Mr. M'Coy.

"We both believe in -- --"

He hesitated for a moment.

" ...

in the Redeemer.

Only they don't believe in the Pope and in the mother of God."


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."


come in!

come in!"

A pale,

oval face came forward into the light.

The arch of its fair trailing moustache was repeated in the fair eyebrows looped above pleasantly astonished eyes.

Mr. Fogarty was a modest grocer.

He had failed in business in a licensed house in the city because his financial condition had constrained him to tie himself to second-class distillers and brewers.

He had opened a small shop on Glasnevin Road where,

he flattered himself,

his manners would ingratiate him with the housewives of the district.

He bore himself with a certain grace,

complimented little children and spoke with a neat enunciation.

He was not without culture.

Mr. Fogarty brought a gift with him,

a half-pint of special whisky.

He inquired politely for Mr. Kernan,

placed his gift on the table and sat down with the company on equal terms.

Mr. Kernan appreciated the gift all the more since he was aware that there was a small account for groceries unsettled between him and Mr. Fogarty.

He said:

"I wouldn't doubt you,

old man.

Open that,


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."



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,


"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.


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,


"That's no joke,

I can tell you."

"We didn't learn that,


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.


said Mr. Cunningham.

He also drank from his glass.


you know,"

said Mr. M'Coy,

"isn't the photograph wonderful when you come to think of it?"


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,


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


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.


because when the Pope speaks ex cathedra,"

Mr. Fogarty explained,

"he is infallible."


said Mr. Cunningham.


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,


asked Mr. M'Coy.

"Papal infallibility,"

said Mr. Cunningham,

"that was the greatest scene in the whole history of the Church."

"How was that,


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.


They wouldn't have it!"


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,



this great German cardinal,

whatever his name was,

was one;

and the other was John MacHale."


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:


"I believe!"

said Mr. Fogarty.


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.


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:


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,


not forgetting his works and pomps."

"Get behind me,


said Mr. Fogarty,

laughing and looking at the others.

Mr. Power said nothing.

He felt completely out-generalled.

But a pleased expression flickered across his face.

"All we have to do,"

said Mr. Cunningham,

"is to stand up with lighted candles in our hands and renew our baptismal vows."


don't forget the candle,


said Mr. M'Coy,

"whatever you do."


said Mr. Kernan.

"Must I have a candle?"

"O yes,"

said Mr. Cunningham.


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!


damn it all,

I bar the candles!"

He shook his head with farcical gravity.

"Listen to that!"

said his wife.

"I bar the candles,"

said Mr. Kernan,

conscious of having created an effect on his audience and continuing to shake his head to and fro.

"I bar the magic-lantern business."

Everyone laughed heartily.

"There's a nice Catholic for you!"

said his wife.

"No candles!"

repeated Mr. Kernan obdurately.

"That's off!"

The transept of the Jesuit Church in Gardiner Street was almost full;

and still at every moment gentlemen entered from the side door and,

directed by the lay-brother,

walked on tiptoe along the aisles until they found seating accommodation.

The gentlemen were all well dressed and orderly.

The light of the lamps of the church fell upon an assembly of black clothes and white collars,

relieved here and there by tweeds,

on dark mottled pillars of green marble and on lugubrious canvases.

The gentlemen sat in the benches,

having hitched their trousers slightly above their knees and laid their hats in security.

They sat well back and gazed formally at the distant speck of red light which was suspended before the high altar.

In one of the benches near the pulpit sat Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Kernan.

In the bench behind sat Mr. M'Coy alone: and in the bench behind him sat Mr. Power and Mr. Fogarty.

Mr. M'Coy had tried unsuccessfully to find a place in the bench with the others,


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.


as he recognised familiar faces,

Mr. Kernan began to feel more at home.

His hat,

which had been rehabilitated by his wife,

rested upon his knees.

Once or twice he pulled down his cuffs with one hand while he held the brim of his hat lightly,

but firmly,

with the other hand.

A powerful-looking figure,

the upper part of which was draped with a white surplice,

was observed to be struggling into the pulpit.

Simultaneously the congregation unsettled,

produced handkerchiefs and knelt upon them with care.

Mr. Kernan followed the general example.

The priest's figure now stood upright in the pulpit,

two-thirds of its bulk,

crowned by a massive red face,

appearing above the balustrade.

Father Purdon knelt down,

turned towards the red speck of light and,

covering his face with his hands,


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.


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,


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:


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:


I have looked into my accounts.

I find this wrong and this wrong.


with God's grace,

I will rectify this and this.

I will set right my accounts."



the caretaker's daughter,

was literally run off her feet.

Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest.

It was well for her she had not to attend to the ladies also.

But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought of that and had converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies' dressing-room.

Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there,

gossiping and laughing and fussing,

walking after each other to the head of the stairs,

peering down over the banisters and calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.

It was always a great affair,

the Misses Morkan's annual dance.

Everybody who knew them came to it,

members of the family,

old friends of the family,

the members of Julia's choir,

any of Kate's pupils that were grown up enough,

and even some of Mary Jane's pupils too.

Never once had it fallen flat.

For years and years it had gone off in splendid style,

as long as anyone could remember;

ever since Kate and Julia,

after the death of their brother Pat,

had left the house in Stoney Batter and taken Mary Jane,

their only niece,

to live with them in the dark,

gaunt house on Usher's Island,

the upper part of which they had rented from Mr. Fulham,

the corn-factor on the ground floor.

That was a good thirty years ago if it was a day.

Mary Jane,

who was then a little girl in short clothes,

was now the main prop of the household,

for she had the organ in Haddington Road.

She had been through the Academy and gave a pupils' concert every year in the upper room of the Antient Concert Rooms.

Many of her pupils belonged to the better-class families on the Kingstown and Dalkey line.

Old as they were,

her aunts also did their share.


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.


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.


Mr. Conroy,"

said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door for him,

"Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never coming.


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,


to the ladies' dressing-room.

A light fringe of snow lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on the toes of his goloshes;


as the buttons of his overcoat slipped with a squeaking noise through the snow-stiffened frieze,

a cold,

fragrant air from out-of-doors escaped from crevices and folds.

"Is it snowing again,

Mr. Conroy?"

asked Lily.

She had preceded him into the pantry to help him off with his overcoat.

Gabriel smiled at the three syllables she had given his surname and glanced at her.

She was a slim,

growing girl,

pale in complexion and with hay-coloured hair.

The gas in the pantry made her look still paler.

Gabriel had known her when she was a child and used to sit on the lowest step nursing a rag doll.



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.


he said in a friendly tone,

"do you still go to school?"

"O no,


she answered.

"I'm done schooling this year and more."



said Gabriel gaily,

"I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man,


The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness:

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

Gabriel coloured,

as if he felt he had made a mistake and,

without looking at her,

kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes.

He was a stout,

tallish young man.

The high colour of his cheeks pushed upwards even to his forehead,

where it scattered itself in a few formless patches of pale red;

and on his hairless face there scintillated restlessly the polished lenses and the bright gilt rims of the glasses which screened his delicate and restless eyes.

His glossy black hair was parted in the middle and brushed in a long curve behind his ears where it curled slightly beneath the groove left by his hat.

When he had flicked lustre into his shoes he stood up and pulled his waistcoat down more tightly on his plump body.

Then he took a coin rapidly from his pocket.

"O Lily,"

he said,

thrusting it into her hands,

"it's Christmastime,

isn't it?

Just ...

here's a little ...."

He walked rapidly towards the door.

"O no,


cried the girl,

following him.



I wouldn't take it."



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:


thank you,


He waited outside the drawing-room door until the waltz should finish,

listening to the skirts that swept against it and to the shuffling of feet.

He was still discomposed by the girl's bitter and sudden retort.

It had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel by arranging his cuffs and the bows of his tie.

He then took from his waistcoat pocket a little paper and glanced at the headings he had made for his speech.

He was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning,

for he feared they would be above the heads of his hearers.

Some quotation that they would recognise from Shakespeare or from the Melodies would be better.

The indelicate clacking of the men's heels and the shuffling of their soles reminded him that their grade of culture differed from his.

He would only make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they could not understand.

They would think that he was airing his superior education.

He would fail with them just as he had failed with the girl in the pantry.

He had taken up a wrong tone.

His whole speech was a mistake from first to last,

an utter failure.

Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies' dressing-room.

His aunts were two small,

plainly dressed old women.

Aunt Julia was an inch or so the taller.

Her hair,

drawn low over the tops of her ears,

was grey;

and grey also,

with darker shadows,

was her large flaccid face.

Though she was stout in build and stood erect,

her slow eyes and parted lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where she was going.

Aunt Kate was more vivacious.

Her face,

healthier than her sister's,

was all puckers and creases,

like a shrivelled red apple,

and her hair,

braided in the same old-fashioned way,

had not lost its ripe nut colour.

They both kissed Gabriel frankly.

He was their favourite nephew,

the son of their dead elder sister,


who had married T. J.

Conroy of the Port and Docks.

"Gretta tells me you're not going to take a cab back to Monkstown tonight,


said Aunt Kate.


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,


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! ...


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,


for Gabriel's solicitude was a standing joke with them.


said Mrs. Conroy.

"That's the latest.

Whenever it's wet underfoot I must put on my galoshes.

Tonight even,

he wanted me to put them on,

but I wouldn't.

The next thing he'll buy me will be a diving suit."

Gabriel laughed nervously and patted his tie reassuringly,

while Aunt Kate nearly doubled herself,

so heartily did she enjoy the joke.

The smile soon faded from Aunt Julia's face and her mirthless eyes were directed towards her nephew's face.

After a pause she asked:

"And what are goloshes,




exclaimed her sister "Goodness me,

don't you know what goloshes are?

You wear them over your ...

over your boots,


isn't it?"


said Mrs. Conroy.

"Guttapercha things.

We both have a pair now.

Gabriel says everyone wears them on the Continent."


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,


said Aunt Kate,

with brisk tact.

"Of course,

you've seen about the room.

Gretta was saying ..."


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,


you're not anxious about them?"


for one night,"

said Mrs. Conroy.


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.


I ask you,"

she said almost testily,

"where is Julia going?



Where are you going?"


who had gone half way down one flight,

came back and announced blandly:

"Here's Freddy."

At the same moment a clapping of hands and a final flourish of the pianist told that the waltz had ended.

The drawing-room door was opened from within and some couples came out.

Aunt Kate drew Gabriel aside hurriedly and whispered into his ear:

"Slip down,


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 ....


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,


"And may we have some refreshment,


Miss Morkan?"


said Aunt Kate summarily,

"and here's Mr. Browne and Miss Furlong.

Take them in,


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,


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,


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,


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,


"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:



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:


you see,

I'm like the famous Mrs. Cassidy,

who is reported to have said:


Mary Grimes,

if I don't take it,

make me take it,

for I feel I want it.'"

His hot face had leaned forward a little too confidentially and he had assumed a very low Dublin accent so that the young ladies,

with one instinct,

received his speech in silence.

Miss Furlong,

who was one of Mary Jane's pupils,

asked Miss Daly what was the name of the pretty waltz she had played;

and Mr. Browne,

seeing that he was ignored,

turned promptly to the two young men who were more appreciative.

A red-faced young woman,

dressed in pansy,

came into the room,

excitedly clapping her hands and crying:



Close on her heels came Aunt Kate,


"Two gentlemen and three ladies,

Mary Jane!"


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.


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.


Miss Daly,

you're really awfully good,

after playing for the last two dances,

but really we're so short of ladies tonight."

"I don't mind in the least,

Miss Morkan."

"But I've a nice partner for you,

Mr. Bartell D'Arcy,

the tenor.

I'll get him to sing later on.

All Dublin is raving about him."

"Lovely voice,

lovely voice!"

said Aunt Kate.

As the piano had twice begun the prelude to the first figure Mary Jane led her recruits quickly from the room.

They had hardly gone when Aunt Julia wandered slowly into the room,

looking behind her at something.

"What is the matter,


asked Aunt Kate anxiously.

"Who is it?"


who was carrying in a column of table-napkins,

turned to her sister and said,


as if the question had surprised her:

"It's only Freddy,


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.



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:



hardly noticeable."


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,


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:




I'm going to fill you out a good glass of lemonade just to buck you up."

Freddy Malins,

who was nearing the climax of his story,

waved the offer aside impatiently but Mr. Browne,

having first called Freddy Malins' attention to a disarray in his dress,

filled out and handed him a full glass of lemonade.

Freddy Malins' left hand accepted the glass mechanically,

his right hand being engaged in the mechanical readjustment of his dress.

Mr. Browne,

whose face was once more wrinkling with mirth,

poured out for himself a glass of whisky while Freddy Malins exploded,

before he had well reached the climax of his story,

in a kink of high-pitched bronchitic laughter and,

setting down his untasted and overflowing glass,

began to rub the knuckles of his left fist backwards and forwards into his left eye,

repeating words of his last phrase as well as his fit of laughter would allow him.

Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy piece,

full of runs and difficult passages,

to the hushed drawing-room.

He liked music but the piece she was playing had no melody for him and he doubted whether it had any melody for the other listeners,

though they had begged Mary Jane to play something.

Four young men,

who had come from the refreshment-room to stand in the doorway at the sound of the piano,

had gone away quietly in couples after a few minutes.

The only persons who seemed to follow the music were Mary Jane herself,

her hands racing along the key-board or lifted from it at the pauses like those of a priestess in momentary imprecation,

and Aunt Kate standing at her elbow to turn the page.

Gabriel's eyes,

irritated by the floor,

which glittered with beeswax under the heavy chandelier,

wandered to the wall above the piano.

A picture of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet hung there and beside it was a picture of the two murdered princes in the Tower which Aunt Julia had worked in red,

blue and brown wools when she was a girl.

Probably in the school they had gone to as girls that kind of work had been taught for one year.

His mother had worked for him as a birthday present a waistcoat of purple tabinet,

with little foxes' heads upon it,

lined with brown satin and having round mulberry buttons.

It was strange that his mother had had no musical talent though Aunt Kate used to call her the brains carrier of the Morkan family.

Both she and Julia had always seemed a little proud of their serious and matronly sister.

Her photograph stood before the pierglass.

She held an open book on her knees and was pointing out something in it to Constantine who,

dressed in a man-o-war suit,

lay at her feet.

It was she who had chosen the name of her sons for she was very sensible of the dignity of family life.

Thanks to her,

Constantine was now senior curate in Balbrigan and,

thanks to her,

Gabriel himself had taken his degree in the Royal University.

A shadow passed over his face as he remembered her sullen opposition to his marriage.

Some slighting phrases she had used still rankled in his memory;

she had once spoken of Gretta as being country cute and that was not true of Gretta at all.

It was Gretta who had nursed her during all her last long illness in their house at Monkstown.

He knew that Mary Jane must be near the end of her piece for she was playing again the opening melody with runs of scales after every bar and while he waited for the end the resentment died down in his heart.

The piece ended with a trill of octaves in the treble and a final deep octave in the bass.

Great applause greeted Mary Jane as,

blushing and rolling up her music nervously,

she escaped from the room.

The most vigorous clapping came from the four young men in the doorway who had gone away to the refreshment-room at the beginning of the piece but had come back when the piano had stopped.

Lancers were arranged.

Gabriel found himself partnered with Miss Ivors.

She was a frank-mannered talkative young lady,

with a freckled face and prominent brown eyes.

She did not wear a low-cut bodice and the large brooch which was fixed in the front of her collar bore on it an Irish device and motto.

When they had taken their places she said abruptly:

"I have a crow to pluck with you."

"With me?"

said Gabriel.

She nodded her head gravely.

"What is it?"

asked Gabriel,

smiling at her solemn manner.

"Who is G. C.?"

answered Miss Ivors,

turning her eyes upon him.

Gabriel coloured and was about to knit his brows,

as if he did not understand,

when she said bluntly:


innocent Amy!

I have found out that you write for The Daily Express.


aren't you ashamed of yourself?"

"Why should I be ashamed of myself?"

asked Gabriel,

blinking his eyes and trying to smile.


I'm ashamed of you,"

said Miss Ivors frankly.

"To say you'd write for a paper like that.

I didn't think you were a West Briton."

A look of perplexity appeared on Gabriel's face.

It was true that he wrote a literary column every Wednesday in The Daily Express,

for which he was paid fifteen shillings.

But that did not make him a West Briton surely.

The books he received for review were almost more welcome than the paltry cheque.

He loved to feel the covers and turn over the pages of newly printed books.

Nearly every day when his teaching in the college was ended he used to wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers,

to Hickey's on Bachelor's Walk,

to Web's or Massey's on Aston's Quay,

or to O'Clohissey's in the 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 to smile and murmured lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books.

When their turn to cross had come he was still perplexed and inattentive.

Miss Ivors promptly took his hand in a warm grasp and said in a soft friendly tone:

"Of course,

I was only joking.


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:


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 just arranged to go -- --"

"Go where?"

asked Miss Ivors.


you know,

every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows and so -- --"

"But where?"

asked Miss Ivors.


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?"


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.


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?"


to tell you the truth,"

retorted Gabriel suddenly,

"I'm sick of my own country,

sick of it!"


asked Miss Ivors.

Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.


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.


just as the chain was about to start again,

she stood on tiptoe and whispered into his ear:

"West Briton!"

When the lancers were over Gabriel went away to a remote corner of the room where Freddy Malins' mother was sitting.

She was a stout feeble old woman with white hair.

Her voice had a catch in it like her son's and she stuttered slightly.

She had been told that Freddy had come and that he was nearly all right.

Gabriel asked her whether she had had a good crossing.

She lived with her married daughter in Glasgow and came to Dublin on a visit once a year.

She answered placidly that she had had a beautiful crossing and that the captain had been most attentive to her.

She spoke also of the beautiful house her daughter kept in Glasgow,

and of all the friends they had there.

While her tongue rambled on Gabriel tried to banish from his mind all memory of the unpleasant incident with Miss Ivors.

Of course the girl or woman,

or whatever she was,

was an enthusiast but there was a time for all things.

Perhaps he ought not to have answered her like that.

But she had no right to call him a West Briton before people,

even in joke.

She had tried to make him ridiculous before people,

heckling him and staring at him with her rabbit's eyes.

He saw his wife making her way towards him through the waltzing couples.

When she reached him she said into his ear:


Aunt Kate wants to know won't you carve the goose as usual.

Miss Daly will carve the ham and I'll do the pudding."

"All right,"

said Gabriel.

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

"Were you dancing?"

asked Gabriel.

"Of course I was.

Didn't you see me?

What row had you with Molly Ivors?"

"No row.


Did she say so?"

"Something like that.

I'm trying to get that Mr. D'Arcy to sing.

He's full of conceit,

I think."

"There was no row,"

said Gabriel moodily,

"only she wanted me to go for a trip to the west of Ireland and I said I wouldn't."

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


do go,


she cried.

"I'd love to see Galway again."

"You can go if you like,"

said Gabriel coldly.

She looked at him for a moment,

then turned to Mrs. Malins and said:

"There's a nice husband for you,

Mrs. Malins."

While she was threading her way back across the room Mrs. Malins,

without adverting to the interruption,

went on to tell Gabriel what beautiful places there were in Scotland and beautiful scenery.

Her son-in-law brought them every year to the lakes and they used to go fishing.

Her son-in-law was a splendid fisher.

One day he caught a beautiful big fish and the man in the hotel cooked it for their dinner.

Gabriel hardly heard what she said.

Now that supper was coming near he began to think again about his speech and about the quotation.

When he saw Freddy Malins coming across the room to visit his mother Gabriel left the chair free for him and retired into the embrasure of the window.

The room had already cleared and from the back room came the clatter of plates and knives.

Those who still remained in the drawing-room seemed tired of dancing and were conversing quietly in little groups.

Gabriel's warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window.

How cool it must be outside!

How pleasant it would be to walk out alone,

first along by the river and then through the park!

The snow would be lying on the branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the Wellington Monument.

How much more pleasant it would be there than at the supper-table!

He ran over the headings of his speech: Irish hospitality,

sad memories,

the Three Graces,


the quotation from Browning.

He repeated to himself a phrase he had written in his review:

"One feels that one is listening to a thought-tormented music."

Miss Ivors had praised the review.

Was she sincere?

Had she really any life of her own behind all her propagandism?

There had never been any ill-feeling between them until that night.

It unnerved him to think that she would be at the supper-table,

looking up at him while he spoke with her critical quizzing eyes.

Perhaps she would not be sorry to see him fail in his speech.

An idea came into his mind and gave him courage.

He would say,

alluding to Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia:

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

the generation which is now on the wane among us may have had its faults but for my part I think it had certain qualities of hospitality,

of humour,

of humanity,

which the new and very serious and hypereducated generation that is growing up around us seems to me to lack."

Very good: that was one for Miss Ivors.

What did he care that his aunts were only two ignorant old women?

A murmur in the room attracted his attention.

Mr. Browne was advancing from the door,

gallantly escorting Aunt Julia,

who leaned upon his arm,

smiling and hanging her head.

An irregular musketry of applause escorted her also as far as the piano and then,

as Mary Jane seated herself on the stool,

and Aunt Julia,

no longer smiling,

half turned so as to pitch her voice fairly into the room,

gradually ceased.

Gabriel recognised the prelude.

It was that of an old song of Aunt Julia's --Arrayed for the Bridal.

Her voice,

strong and clear in tone,

attacked with great spirit the runs which embellish the air and though she sang very rapidly she did not miss even the smallest of the grace notes.

To follow the voice,

without looking at the singer's face,

was to feel and share the excitement of swift and secure flight.

Gabriel applauded loudly with all the others at the close of the song and loud applause was borne in from the invisible supper-table.

It sounded so genuine that a little colour struggled into Aunt Julia's face as she bent to replace in the music-stand the old leather-bound songbook that had her initials on the cover.

Freddy Malins,

who had listened with his head perched sideways to hear her better,

was still applauding when everyone else had ceased and talking animatedly to his mother who nodded her head gravely and slowly in acquiescence.

At last,

when he could clap no more,

he stood up suddenly and hurried across the room to Aunt Julia whose hand he seized and held in both his hands,

shaking it when words failed him or the catch in his voice proved too much for him.

"I was just telling my mother,"

he said,

"I never heard you sing so well,



I never heard your voice so good as it is tonight.


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,


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:



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.


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?"


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:


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:


I don't question the pope's being right.

I'm only a stupid old woman and I wouldn't presume to do such a thing.

But there's such a thing as common everyday politeness and gratitude.

And if I were in Julia's place I'd tell that Father Healey straight up to his face ..."

"And besides,

Aunt Kate,"

said Mary Jane,

"we really are all hungry and when we are hungry we are all very quarrelsome."

"And when we are thirsty we are also quarrelsome,"

added Mr. Browne.

"So that we had better go to supper,"

said Mary Jane,

"and finish the discussion afterwards."

On the landing outside the drawing-room Gabriel found his wife and Mary Jane trying to persuade Miss Ivors to stay for supper.

But Miss Ivors,

who had put on her hat and was buttoning her cloak,

would not stay.

She did not feel in the least hungry and she had already overstayed her time.

"But only for ten minutes,


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.


it's only two steps up the quay."

Gabriel hesitated a moment and said:

"If you will allow me,

Miss Ivors,

I'll see you home if you are really obliged to go."

But Miss Ivors broke away from them.

"I won't hear of it,"

she cried.

"For goodness' sake go in to your suppers and don't mind me.

I'm quite well able to take care of myself."


you're the comical girl,


said Mrs. Conroy frankly.

"Beannacht libh,"

cried Miss Ivors,

with a laugh,

as she ran down the staircase.

Mary Jane gazed after her,

a moody puzzled expression on her face,

while Mrs. Conroy leaned over the banisters to listen for the hall-door.

Gabriel asked himself was he the cause of her abrupt departure.

But she did not seem to be in ill humour: she had gone away laughing.

He stared blankly down the staircase.

At the moment Aunt Kate came toddling out of the supper-room,

almost wringing her hands in despair.

"Where is Gabriel?"

she cried.

"Where on earth is Gabriel?

There's everyone waiting in there,

stage to let,

and nobody to carve the goose!"

"Here I am,

Aunt Kate!"

cried Gabriel,

with sudden animation,

"ready to carve a flock of geese,

if necessary."

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end,

on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley,

lay a great ham,

stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs,

a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef.

Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly,

red and yellow;

a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam,

a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle,

on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds,

a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs,

a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg,

a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks.

In the centre of the table there stood,

as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American apples,

two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass,

one containing port and the other dark sherry.

On the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals,

drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms,

the first two black,

with brown and red labels,

the third and smallest squad white,

with transverse green sashes.

Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and,

having looked to the edge of the carver,

plunged his fork firmly into the goose.

He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden table.

"Miss Furlong,

what shall I send you?"

he asked.

"A wing or a slice of the breast?"

"Just a small slice of the breast."

"Miss Higgins,

what for you?"


anything at all,

Mr. Conroy."

While Gabriel and Miss Daly exchanged plates of goose and plates of ham and spiced beef Lily went from guest to guest with a dish of hot floury potatoes wrapped in a white napkin.

This was Mary Jane's idea and she had also suggested apple sauce for the goose but Aunt Kate had said that plain roast goose without any apple sauce had always been good enough for her and she hoped she might never eat worse.

Mary Jane waited on her pupils and saw that they got the best slices and Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia opened and carried across from the piano bottles of stout and ale for the gentlemen and bottles of minerals for the ladies.

There was a great deal of confusion and laughter and noise,

the noise of orders and counter-orders,

of knives and forks,

of corks and glass-stoppers.

Gabriel began to carve second helpings as soon as he had finished the first round without serving himself.

Everyone protested loudly so that he compromised by taking a long draught of stout for he had found the carving hot work.

Mary Jane settled down quietly to her supper but Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia were still toddling round the table,

walking on each other's heels,

getting in each other's way and giving each other unheeded orders.

Mr. Browne begged of them to sit down and eat their suppers and so did Gabriel but they said there was time enough,

so that,

at last,

Freddy Malins stood up and,

capturing Aunt Kate,

plumped her down on her chair amid general laughter.

When everyone had been well served Gabriel said,



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.


answered Mr. Bartell D'Arcy carelessly.


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,


the great Trebelli,




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,


Lucrezia Borgia?

Because they could not get the voices to sing them: that was why.



said Mr. Bartell D'Arcy,

"I presume there are as good singers today as there were then."

"Where are they?"

asked Mr. Browne defiantly.

"In London,



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."


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."


said Mr. Bartell D'Arcy.

"I never even heard of him."



Miss Morkan is right,"

said Mr. Browne.

"I remember hearing of old Parkinson but he's too far back for me."

"A beautiful,



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.


I hope,

Miss Morkan,"

said Mr. Browne,

"that I'm brown enough for you because,

you know,

I'm all brown."

All the gentlemen,

except Gabriel,

ate some of the pudding out of compliment to Aunt Julia.

As Gabriel never ate sweets the celery had been left for him.

Freddy Malins also took a stalk of celery and ate it with his pudding.

He had been told that celery was a capital thing for the blood and he was just then under doctor's care.

Mrs. Malins,

who had been silent all through the supper,

said that her son was going down to Mount Melleray in a week or so.

The table then spoke of Mount Melleray,

how bracing the air was down there,

how hospitable the monks were and how they never asked for a penny-piece from their guests.

"And do you mean to say,"

asked Mr. Browne incredulously,

"that a chap can go down there and put up there as if it were a hotel and live on the fat of the land and then come away without paying anything?"


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.


but why?"

asked Mr. Browne.

Aunt Kate repeated that it was the rule,

that was all.

Mr. Browne still seemed not to understand.

Freddy Malins explained to him,

as best he could,

that the monks were trying to make up for the sins committed by all the sinners in the outside world.

The explanation was not very clear for Mr. Browne grinned and said:

"I like that idea very much but wouldn't a comfortable spring bed do them as well as a coffin?"

"The coffin,"

said Mary Jane,

"is to remind them of their last end."

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

"They are very good men,

the monks,

very pious men."

The raisins and almonds and figs and apples and oranges and chocolates and sweets were now passed about the table and Aunt Julia invited all the guests to have either port or sherry.

At first Mr. Bartell D'Arcy refused to take either but one of his neighbours nudged him and whispered something to him upon which he allowed his glass to be filled.

Gradually as the last glasses were being filled the conversation ceased.

A pause followed,

broken only by the noise of the wine and by unsettlings of chairs.

The Misses Morkan,

all three,

looked down at the tablecloth.

Someone coughed once or twice and then a few gentlemen patted the table gently as a signal for silence.

The silence came and Gabriel pushed back his chair.

The patting at once grew louder in encouragement and then ceased altogether.

Gabriel leaned his ten trembling fingers on the tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company.

Meeting a row of upturned faces he raised his eyes to the chandelier.

The piano was playing a waltz tune and he could hear the skirts sweeping against the drawing-room door.



were standing in the snow on the quay outside,

gazing up at the lighted windows and listening to the waltz music.

The air was pure there.

In the distance lay the park where the trees were weighted with snow.

The Wellington Monument wore a gleaming cap of snow that flashed westward over the white field of Fifteen Acres.

He began:

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

"It has fallen to my lot this evening,

as in years past,

to perform a very pleasing task but a task for which I am afraid my poor powers as a speaker are all too inadequate."



said Mr. Browne.


however that may be,

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

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

it is not the first time that we have gathered together under this hospitable roof,

around this hospitable board.

It is not the first time that we have been the recipients --or perhaps,

I had better say,

the victims --of the hospitality of certain good ladies."

He made a circle in the air with his arm and paused.

Everyone laughed or smiled at Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia and Mary Jane who all turned crimson with pleasure.

Gabriel went on more boldly:

"I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our country has no tradition which does it so much honour and which it should guard so jealously as that of its hospitality.

It is a tradition that is unique as far as my experience goes (and I have visited not a few places abroad) among the modern nations.

Some would say,


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,


I believe,

in the main sincere.

But we are living in a sceptical and,

if I may use the phrase,

a thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new generation,

educated or hypereducated as it is,

will lack those qualities of humanity,

of hospitality,

of kindly humour which belonged to an older day.

Listening tonight to the names of all those great singers of the past it seemed to me,

I must confess,

that we were living in a less spacious age.

Those days might,

without exaggeration,

be called spacious days: and if they are gone beyond recall let us hope,

at least,

that in gatherings such as this we shall still speak of them with pride and affection,

still cherish in our hearts the memory of those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die."



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.


I will not linger on the past.

I will not let any gloomy moralising intrude upon us here tonight.

Here we are gathered together for a brief moment from the bustle and rush of our everyday routine.

We are met here as friends,

in the spirit of good-fellowship,

as colleagues,

also to a certain extent,

in the true spirit of camaraderie,

and as the guests of --what shall I call them?

--the Three Graces of the Dublin musical world."

The table burst into applause and laughter at this allusion.

Aunt Julia vainly asked each of her neighbours in turn to tell her what Gabriel had said.

"He says we are the Three Graces,

Aunt Julia,"

said Mary Jane.

Aunt Julia did not understand but she looked up,


at Gabriel,

who continued in the same vein:

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

"I will not attempt to play tonight the part that Paris played on another occasion.

I will not attempt to choose between them.

The task would be an invidious one and one beyond my poor powers.

For when I view them in turn,

whether it be our chief hostess herself,

whose good heart,

whose too good heart,

has become a byword with all who know her,

or her sister,

who seems to be gifted with perennial youth and whose singing must have been a surprise and a revelation to us all tonight,


last but not least,

when I consider our youngest hostess,



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,


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.


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,


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.


she said archly,

"he is very attentive."

"He has been laid on here like the gas,"

said Aunt Kate in the same tone,

"all during the Christmas."

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

"But tell him to come in,

Mary Jane,

and close the door.

I hope to goodness he didn't hear me."

At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in from the doorstep,

laughing as if his heart would break.

He was dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap.

He pointed down the snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged whistling was borne in.

"Teddy will have all the cabs in Dublin out,"

he said.

Gabriel advanced from the little pantry behind the office,

struggling into his overcoat and,

looking round the hall,


"Gretta not down yet?"

"She's getting on her things,


said Aunt Kate.

"Who's playing up there?"

asked Gabriel.


They're all gone."

"O no,

Aunt Kate,"

said Mary Jane.

"Bartell D'Arcy and Miss O'Callaghan aren't gone yet."

"Someone is fooling at the piano anyhow,"

said Gabriel.

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

"It makes me feel cold to look at you two gentlemen muffled up like that.

I wouldn't like to face your journey home at this hour."

"I'd like nothing better this minute,"

said Mr. Browne stoutly,

"than a rattling fine walk in the country or a fast drive with a good spanking goer between the shafts."

"We used to have a very good horse and trap at home,"

said Aunt Julia sadly.

"The never-to-be-forgotten Johnny,"

said Mary Jane,


Aunt Kate and Gabriel laughed too.


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."




said Aunt Kate,


"he had a starch mill."


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.


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:




he didn't live in Back Lane,


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,


What do you mean,




Most extraordinary conduct!

Can't understand the horse!'"

The peal of laughter which followed Gabriel's imitation of the incident was interrupted by a resounding knock at the hall door.

Mary Jane ran to open it and let in Freddy Malins.

Freddy Malins,

with his hat well back on his head and his shoulders humped with cold,

was puffing and steaming after his exertions.

"I could only get one cab,"

he said.


we'll find another along the quay,"

said Gabriel.


said Aunt Kate.

"Better not keep Mrs. Malins standing in the draught."

Mrs. Malins was helped down the front steps by her son and Mr. Browne and,

after many manoeuvres,

hoisted into the cab.

Freddy Malins clambered in after her and spent a long time settling her on the seat,

Mr. Browne helping him with advice.

At last she was settled comfortably and Freddy Malins invited Mr. Browne into the cab.

There was a good deal of confused talk,

and then Mr. Browne got into the cab.

The cabman settled his rug over his knees,

and bent down for the address.

The confusion grew greater and the cabman was directed differently by Freddy Malins and Mr. Browne,

each of whom had his head out through a window of the cab.

The difficulty was to know where to drop Mr. Browne along the route,

and Aunt Kate,

Aunt Julia and Mary Jane helped the discussion from the doorstep with cross-directions and contradictions and abundance of laughter.

As for Freddy Malins he was speechless with laughter.

He popped his head in and out of the window every moment to the great danger of his hat,

and told his mother how the discussion was progressing,

till at last Mr. Browne shouted to the bewildered cabman above the din of everybody's laughter:

"Do you know Trinity College?"



said the cabman.


drive bang up against Trinity College gates,"

said Mr. Browne,

"and then we'll tell you where to go.

You understand now?"



said the cabman.

"Make like a bird for Trinity College."



said the cabman.

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

Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others.

He was in a dark part of the hall gazing up the staircase.

A woman was standing near the top of the first flight,

in the shadow also.

He could not see her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white.

It was his wife.

She was leaning on the banisters,

listening to something.

Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen also.

But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute on the front steps,

a few chords struck on the piano and a few notes of a man's voice singing.

He stood still in the gloom of the hall,

trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife.

There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something.

He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow,

listening to distant music,

a symbol of.

If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude.

Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones.

Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.

The hall-door was closed;

and Aunt Kate,

Aunt Julia and Mary Jane came down the hall,

still laughing.


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:


the rain falls on my heavy locks And the dew wets my skin,

My babe lies cold ...


exclaimed Mary Jane.

"It's Bartell D'Arcy singing and he wouldn't sing all the night.


I'll get him to sing a song before he goes."



Mary Jane,"

said Aunt Kate.

Mary Jane brushed past the others and ran to the staircase,

but before she reached it the singing stopped and the piano was closed abruptly.


what a pity!"

she cried.

"Is he coming down,


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.


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,


and he told us he had a dreadful cold and couldn't sing."


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.


everybody has colds,"

said Aunt Kate readily,


"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,


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.


Do you know it?"

"The Lass of Aughrim,"

she repeated.

"I couldn't think of the name."

"It's a very nice air,"

said Mary Jane.

"I'm sorry you were not in voice tonight."


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:



Aunt Kate,

and thanks for the pleasant evening."






Aunt Kate,

and thanks ever so much.


Aunt Julia."




I didn't see you."


Mr. D'Arcy.


Miss O'Callaghan."


Miss Morkan."





Safe home."


Good night."

The morning was still dark.

A dull,

yellow light brooded over the houses and the river;

and the sky seemed to be descending.

It was slushy underfoot;

and only streaks and patches of snow lay on the roofs,

on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings.

The lamps were still burning redly in the murky air and,

across the river,

the palace of the Four Courts stood out menacingly against the heavy sky.

She was walking on before him with Mr. Bartell D'Arcy,

her shoes in a brown parcel tucked under one arm and her hands holding her skirt up from the slush.

She had no longer any grace of attitude,

but Gabriel's eyes were still bright with happiness.

The blood went bounding along his veins;

and the thoughts went rioting through his brain,





She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he longed to run after her noiselessly,

catch her by the shoulders and say something foolish and affectionate into her ear.

She seemed to him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and then to be alone with her.

Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory.

A heliotrope envelope was lying beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand.

Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness.

They were standing on the crowded platform and he was placing a ticket inside the warm palm of her glove.

He was standing with her in the cold,

looking in through a grated window at a man making bottles in a roaring furnace.

It was very cold.

Her face,

fragrant in the cold air,

was quite close to his;

and suddenly he called out to the man at the furnace:

"Is the fire hot,


But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace.

It was just as well.

He might have answered rudely.

A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went coursing in warm flood along his arteries.

Like the tender fire of stars moments of their life together,

that no one knew of or would ever know of,

broke upon and illumined his memory.

He longed to recall to her those moments,

to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy.

For the years,

he felt,

had not quenched his soul or hers.

Their children,

his writing,

her household cares had not quenched all their souls' tender fire.

In one letter that he had written to her then he had said:

"Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold?

Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?"

Like distant music these words that he had written years before were borne towards him from the past.

He longed to be alone with her.

When the others had gone away,

when he and she were in the room in their hotel,

then they would be alone together.

He would call her softly:


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.


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.



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,


"The same to you,"

said Gabriel cordially.

She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and while standing at the curbstone,

bidding the others good-night.

She leaned lightly on his arm,

as lightly as when she had danced with him a few hours before.

He had felt proud and happy then,

happy that she was his,

proud of her grace and wifely carriage.

But now,

after the kindling again of so many memories,

the first touch of her body,

musical and strange and perfumed,

sent through him a keen pang of lust.

Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm closely to his side;


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,


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.


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:


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.


it was not the moment yet.

"You looked tired,"

he said.

"I am a little,"

she answered.

"You don't feel ill or weak?"


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,


"What is it?"

"You know that poor fellow Malins?"

he said quickly.


What about him?"


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,


It's a pity he wouldn't keep away from that Browne,

because he's not a bad fellow,


He was trembling now with annoyance.

Why did she seem so abstracted?

He did not know how he could begin.

Was she annoyed,


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.


he must see some ardour in her eyes first.

He longed to be master of her strange mood.

"When did you lend him the pound?"

she asked,

after a pause.

Gabriel strove to restrain himself from breaking out into brutal language about the sottish Malins and his pound.

He longed to cry to her from his soul,

to crush her body against his,

to overmaster her.

But he said:


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.


suddenly raising herself on tiptoe and resting her hands lightly on his shoulders,

she kissed him.

"You are a very generous person,


she said.


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.


slipping one arm swiftly about her body and drawing her towards him,

he said softly:



what are you thinking about?"

She did not answer nor yield wholly to his arm.

He said again,


"Tell me what it is,


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:


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.



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,


"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!"



you are in love with him?"

said Gabriel.

"I used to go out walking with him,"

she said,

"when I was in Galway."

A thought flew across Gabriel's mind.

"Perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that Ivors girl?"

he said coldly.

She looked at him and asked in surprise:

"What for?"

Her eyes made Gabriel feel awkward.

He shrugged his shoulders and said:

"How do I know?

To see him,


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,


he said.

"I was great with him at that time,"

she said.

Her voice was veiled and sad.


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,



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,


you know,


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."


and then?"

asked Gabriel.

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

and hoping he would be better then."

She paused for a moment to get her voice under control,

and then went on:

"Then the night before I left,

I was in my grandmother's house in Nuns' Island,

packing up,

and I heard gravel thrown up against the window.

The window was so wet I couldn't see,

so I ran downstairs as I was and slipped out the back into the garden and there was the poor fellow at the end of the garden,


"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.


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.


the day I heard that,

that he was dead!"

She stopped,

choking with sobs,


overcome by emotion,

flung herself face downward on the bed,

sobbing in the quilt.

Gabriel held her hand for a moment longer,


and then,

shy of intruding on her grief,

let it fall gently and walked quietly to the window.

She was fast asleep.


leaning on his elbow,

looked for a few moments unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth,

listening to her deep-drawn breath.

So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake.

It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he,

her husband,

had played in her life.

He watched her while she slept,

as though he and she had never lived together as man and wife.

His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and,

as he thought of what she must have been then,

in that time of her first girlish beauty,

a strange,

friendly pity for her entered his soul.

He did not like to say even to himself that her face was no longer beautiful,

but he knew that it was no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death.

Perhaps she had not told him all the story.

His eyes moved to the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes.

A petticoat string dangled to the floor.

One boot stood upright,

its limp upper fallen down: the fellow of it lay upon its side.

He wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before.

From what had it proceeded?

From his aunt's supper,

from his own foolish speech,

from the wine and dancing,

the merry-making when saying good-night in the hall,

the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow.

Poor Aunt Julia!



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.



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: 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.


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,


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.