Dubliners by James Joyce
Grace

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

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[5114]     GRACE
[5115]     
[5116]     TWO GENTLEMEN who were in the lavatory at the time tried to
[5117]     lift him up: but he was quite helpless. He lay curled up at the foot
[5118]     of the stairs down which he had fallen. They succeeded in turning
[5119]     him over. His hat had rolled a few yards away and his clothes were
[5120]     smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain,
[5121]     face downwards. His eyes were closed and he breathed with a
[5122]     grunting noise. A thin stream of blood trickled from the corner of
[5123]     his mouth.
[5124]     
[5125]     These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the
[5126]     stairs and laid him down again on the floor of the bar. In two
[5127]     minutes he was surrounded by a ring of men. The manager of the
[5128]     bar asked everyone who he was and who was with him. No one
[5129]     knew who he was but one of the curates said he had served the
[5130]     gentleman with a small rum.
[5131]     
[5132]     "Was he by himself?" asked the manager.
[5133]     
[5134]     "No, sir. There was two gentlemen with him."
[5135]     
[5136]     "And where are they?"
[5137]     
[5138]     No one knew; a voice said:
[5139]     
[5140]     "Give him air. He's fainted."
[5141]     
[5142]     The ring of onlookers distended and closed again elastically. A
[5143]     dark medal of blood had formed itself near the man's head on the
[5144]     tessellated floor. The manager, alarmed by the grey pallor of the
[5145]     man's face, sent for a policeman.
[5146]     
[5147]     His collar was unfastened and his necktie undone. He opened eyes
[5148]     for an instant, sighed and closed them again. One of gentlemen
[5149]     who had carried him upstairs held a dinged silk hat in his hand.
[5150]     The manager asked repeatedly did no one know who the injured
[5151]     man was or where had his friends gone. The door of the bar
[5152]     opened and an immense constable entered. A crowd which had
[5153]     followed him down the laneway collected outside the door,
[5154]     struggling to look in through the glass panels.
[5155]     
[5156]     The manager at once began to narrate what he knew. The costable,
[5157]     a young man with thick immobile features, listened. He moved his
[5158]     head slowly to right and left and from the manager to the person
[5159]     on the floor, as if he feared to be the victim some delusion. Then
[5160]     he drew off his glove, produced a small book from his waist,
[5161]     licked the lead of his pencil and made ready to indite. He asked in
[5162]     a suspicious provincial accent:
[5163]     
[5164]     "Who is the man? What's his name and address?"
[5165]     
[5166]     A young man in a cycling-suit cleared his way through the ring of
[5167]     bystanders. He knelt down promptly beside the injured man and
[5168]     called for water. The constable knelt down also to help. The young
[5169]     man washed the blood from the injured man's mouth and then
[5170]     called for some brandy. The constable repeated the order in an
[5171]     authoritative voice until a curate came running with the glass. The
[5172]     brandy was forced down the man's throat. In a few seconds he
[5173]     opened his eyes and looked about him. He looked at the circle of
[5174]     faces and then, understanding, strove to rise to his feet.
[5175]     
[5176]     "You're all right now?" asked the young man in the cycling- suit.
[5177]     
[5178]     "Sha,'s nothing," said the injured man, trying to stand up.
[5179]     
[5180]     He was helped to his feet. The manager said something about a
[5181]     hospital and some of the bystanders gave advice. The battered silk
[5182]     hat was placed on the man's head. The constable asked:
[5183]     
[5184]     "Where do you live?"
[5185]     
[5186]     The man, without answering, began to twirl the ends of his
[5187]     moustache. He made light of his accident. It was nothing, he said:
[5188]     only a little accident. He spoke very thickly.
[5189]     
[5190]     "Where do you live" repeated the constable.
[5191]     
[5192]     The man said they were to get a cab for him. While the point was
[5193]     being debated a tall agile gentleman of fair complexion, wearing a
[5194]     long yellow ulster, came from the far end of the bar. Seeing the
[5195]     spectacle, he called out:
[5196]     
[5197]     "Hallo, Tom, old man! What's the trouble?"
[5198]     
[5199]     "Sha,'s nothing," said the man.
[5200]     
[5201]     The new-comer surveyed the deplorable figure before him and
[5202]     then turned to the constable, saying:
[5203]     
[5204]     "It's all right, constable. I'll see him home."
[5205]     
[5206]     The constable touched his helmet and answered:
[5207]     
[5208]     "All right, Mr. Power!"
[5209]     
[5210]     "Come now, Tom," said Mr. Power, taking his friend by the arm.
[5211]     "No bones broken. What? Can you walk?"
[5212]     
[5213]     The young man in the cycling-suit took the man by the other arm
[5214]     and the crowd divided.
[5215]     
[5216]     "How did you get yourself into this mess?" asked Mr. Power.
[5217]     
[5218]     "The gentleman fell down the stairs," said the young man.
[5219]     
[5220]     "I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir," said the injured man.
[5221]     
[5222]     "Not at all."
[5223]     
[5224]     "'ant we have a little...?"
[5225]     
[5226]     "Not now. Not now."
[5227]     
[5228]     The three men left the bar and the crowd sifted through the doors
[5229]     in to the laneway. The manager brought the constable to the stairs
[5230]     to inspect the scene of the accident. They agreed that the
[5231]     gentleman must have missed his footing. The customers returned
[5232]     to the counter and a curate set about removing the traces of blood
[5233]     from the floor.
[5234]     
[5235]     When they came out into Grafton Street, Mr. Power whistled for
[5236]     an outsider. The injured man said again as well as he could.
[5237]     
[5238]     "I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir. I hope we'll 'eet again. 'y na'e is
[5239]     Kernan."
[5240]     
[5241]     The shock and the incipient pain had partly sobered him.
[5242]     
[5243]     "Don't mention it," said the young man.
[5244]     
[5245]     They shook hands. Mr. Kernan was hoisted on to the car and,
[5246]     while Mr. Power was giving directions to the carman, he expressed
[5247]     his gratitude to the young man and regretted that they could not
[5248]     have a little drink together.
[5249]     
[5250]     "Another time," said the young man.
[5251]     
[5252]     The car drove off towards Westmoreland Street. As it passed
[5253]     Ballast Office the clock showed half-past nine. A keen east wind
[5254]     hit them, blowing from the mouth of the river. Mr. Kernan was
[5255]     huddled together with cold. His friend asked him to tell how the
[5256]     accident had happened.
[5257]     
[5258]     "I'an't 'an," he answered, "'y 'ongue is hurt."
[5259]     
[5260]     "Show."
[5261]     
[5262]     The other leaned over the well of the car and peered into Mr.
[5263]     Kernan's mouth but he could not see. He struck a match and,
[5264]     sheltering it in the shell of his hands, peered again into the mouth
[5265]     which Mr. Kernan opened obediently. The swaying movement of
[5266]     the car brought the match to and from the opened mouth. The
[5267]     lower teeth and gums were covered with clotted blood and a
[5268]     minute piece of the tongue seemed to have been bitten off. The
[5269]     match was blown out.
[5270]     
[5271]     "That's ugly," said Mr. Power.
[5272]     
[5273]     "Sha, 's nothing," said Mr. Kernan, closing his mouth and pulling
[5274]     the collar of his filthy coat across his neck.
[5275]     
[5276]     Mr. Kernan was a commercial traveller of the old school which
[5277]     believed in the dignity of its calling. He had never been seen in the
[5278]     city without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters. By
[5279]     grace of these two articles of clothing, he said, a man could always
[5280]     pass muster. He carried on the tradition of his Napoleon, the great
[5281]     Blackwhite, whose memory he evoked at times by legend and
[5282]     mimicry. Modern business methods had spared him only so far as
[5283]     to allow him a little office in Crowe Street, on the window blind of
[5284]     which was written the name of his firm with the address--London,
[5285]     E. C. On the mantelpiece of this little office a little leaden
[5286]     battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table before the
[5287]     window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half
[5288]     full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea. He
[5289]     took a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then
[5290]     spat it forth into the grate. Then he paused to judge.
[5291]     
[5292]     Mr. Power, a much younger man, was employed in the Royal Irish
[5293]     Constabulary Office in Dublin Castle. The arc of his social rise
[5294]     intersected the arc of his friend's decline, but Mr. Kernan's decline
[5295]     was mitigated by the fact that certain of those friends who had
[5296]     known him at his highest point of success still esteemed him as a
[5297]     character. Mr. Power was one of these friends. His inexplicable
[5298]     debts were a byword in his circle; he was a debonair young man.
[5299]     
[5300]     The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr.
[5301]     Kernan was helped into the house. His wife put him to bed while
[5302]     Mr. Power sat downstairs in the kitchen asking the children where
[5303]     they went to school and what book they were in. The children--
[5304]     two girls and a boy, conscious of their father helplessness and of
[5305]     their mother's absence, began some horseplay with him. He was
[5306]     surprised at their manners and at their accents, and his brow grew
[5307]     thoughtful. After a while Mrs. Kernan entered the kitchen,
[5308]     exclaiming:
[5309]     
[5310]     "Such a sight! O, he'll do for himself one day and that's the holy
[5311]     alls of it. He's been drinking since Friday."
[5312]     
[5313]     Mr. Power was careful to explain to her that he was not
[5314]     responsible, that he had come on the scene by the merest accident.
[5315]     Mrs. Kernan, remembering Mr. Power's good offices during
[5316]     domestic quarrels, as well as many small, but opportune loans,
[5317]     said:
[5318]     
[5319]     "O, you needn't tell me that, Mr. Power. I know you're a friend of
[5320]     his, not like some of the others he does be with. They're all right so
[5321]     long as he has money in his pocket to keep him out from his wife
[5322]     and family. Nice friends! Who was he with tonight, I'd like to
[5323]     know?"
[5324]     
[5325]     Mr. Power shook his head but said nothing.
[5326]     
[5327]     "I'm so sorry," she continued, "that I've nothing in the house to
[5328]     offer you. But if you wait a minute I'll send round to Fogarty's, at
[5329]     the corner."
[5330]     
[5331]     Mr. Power stood up.
[5332]     
[5333]     "We were waiting for him to come home with the money. He
[5334]     never seems to think he has a home at all."
[5335]     
[5336]     "O, now, Mrs. Kernan," said Mr. Power, "we'll make him turn over
[5337]     a new leaf. I'll talk to Martin. He's the man. We'll come here one of
[5338]     these nights and talk it over."
[5339]     
[5340]     She saw him to the door. The carman was stamping up and down
[5341]     the footpath, and swinging his arms to warm himself.
[5342]     
[5343]     "It's very kind of you to bring him home," she said.
[5344]     
[5345]     "Not at all," said Mr. Power.
[5346]     
[5347]     He got up on the car. As it drove off he raised his hat to her gaily.
[5348]     
[5349]     "We'll make a new man of him," he said. "Good-night, Mrs.
[5350]     Kernan."
[5351]     
[5352]     
[5353]     
[5354]     
[5355]     
[5356]     
[5357]     Mrs. Kernan's puzzled eyes watched the car till it was out of sight.
[5358]     Then she withdrew them, went into the house and emptied her
[5359]     husband's pockets.
[5360]     
[5361]     She was an active, practical woman of middle age. Not long before
[5362]     she had celebrated her silver wedding and renewed her intimacy
[5363]     with her husband by waltzing with him to Mr. Power's
[5364]     accompaniment. In her days of courtship, Mr. Kernan had seemed
[5365]     to her a not ungallant figure: and she still hurried to the chapel
[5366]     door whenever a wedding was reported and, seeing the bridal pair,
[5367]     recalled with vivid pleasure how she had passed out of the Star of
[5368]     the Sea Church in Sandymount, leaning on the arm of a jovial
[5369]     well-fed man, who was dressed smartly in a frock-coat and
[5370]     lavender trousers and carried a silk hat gracefully balanced upon
[5371]     his other arm. After three weeks she had found a wife's life
[5372]     irksome and, later on, when she was beginning to find it
[5373]     unbearable, she had become a mother. The part of mother
[5374]     presented to her no insuperable difficulties and for twenty-five
[5375]     years she had kept house shrewdly for her husband. Her two eldest
[5376]     sons were launched. One was in a draper's shop in Glasgow and
[5377]     the other was clerk to a tea- merchant in Belfast. They were good
[5378]     sons, wrote regularly and sometimes sent home money. The other
[5379]     children were still at school.
[5380]     
[5381]     Mr. Kernan sent a letter to his office next day and remained in bed.
[5382]     She made beef-tea for him and scolded him roundly. She accepted
[5383]     his frequent intemperance as part of the climate, healed him
[5384]     dutifully whenever he was sick and always tried to make him eat a
[5385]     breakfast. There were worse husbands. He had never been violent
[5386]     since the boys had grown up, and she knew that he would walk to
[5387]     the end of Thomas Street and back again to book even a small
[5388]     order.
[5389]     
[5390]     Two nights after, his friends came to see him. She brought them up
[5391]     to his bedroom, the air of which was impregnated with a personal
[5392]     odour, and gave them chairs at the fire. Mr. Kernan's tongue, the
[5393]     occasional stinging pain of which had made him somewhat
[5394]     irritable during the day, became more polite. He sat propped up in
[5395]     the bed by pillows and the little colour in his puffy cheeks made
[5396]     them resemble warm cinders. He apologised to his guests for the
[5397]     disorder of the room, but at the same time looked at them a little
[5398]     proudly, with a veteran's pride.
[5399]     
[5400]     He was quite unconscious that he was the victim of a plot which
[5401]     his friends, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. M'Coy and Mr. Power had
[5402]     disclosed to Mrs. Kernan in the parlour. The idea been Mr.
[5403]     Power's, but its development was entrusted to Mr. Cunningham.
[5404]     Mr. Kernan came of Protestant stock and, though he had been
[5405]     converted to the Catholic faith at the time of his marriage, he had
[5406]     not been in the pale of the Church for twenty years. He was fond,
[5407]     moreover, of giving side-thrusts at Catholicism.
[5408]     
[5409]     Mr. Cunningham was the very man for such a case. He was an
[5410]     elder colleague of Mr. Power. His own domestic life was very
[5411]     happy. People had great sympathy with him, for it was known that
[5412]     he had married an unpresentable woman who was an incurable
[5413]     drunkard. He had set up house for her six times; and each time she
[5414]     had pawned the furniture on him.
[5415]     
[5416]     Everyone had respect for poor Martin Cunningham. He was a
[5417]     thoroughly sensible man, influential and intelligent. His blade of
[5418]     human knowledge, natural astuteness particularised by long
[5419]     association with cases in the police courts, had been tempered by
[5420]     brief immersions in the waters of general philosophy. He was well
[5421]     informed. His friends bowed to his opinions and considered that
[5422]     his face was like Shakespeare's.
[5423]     
[5424]     When the plot had been disclosed to her, Mrs. Kernan had said:
[5425]     
[5426]     "I leave it all in your hands, Mr. Cunningham."
[5427]     
[5428]     After a quarter of a century of married life, she had very few
[5429]     illusions left. Religion for her was a habit, and she suspected that a
[5430]     man of her husband's age would not change greatly before death.
[5431]     She was tempted to see a curious appropriateness in his accident
[5432]     and, but that she did not wish to seem bloody-minded, would have
[5433]     told the gentlemen that Mr. Kernan's tongue would not suffer by
[5434]     being shortened. However, Mr. Cunningham was a capable man;
[5435]     and religion was religion. The scheme might do good and, at least,
[5436]     it could do no harm. Her beliefs were not extravagant. She
[5437]     believed steadily in the Sacred Heart as the most generally useful
[5438]     of all Catholic devotions and approved of the sacraments. Her faith
[5439]     was bounded by her kitchen, but, if she was put to it, she could
[5440]     believe also in the banshee and in the Holy Ghost.
[5441]     
[5442]     The gentlemen began to talk of the accident. Mr. Cunningham said
[5443]     that he had once known a similar case. A man of seventy had
[5444]     bitten off a piece of his tongue during an epileptic fit and the
[5445]     tongue had filled in again, so that no one could see a trace of the
[5446]     bite.
[5447]     
[5448]     "Well, I'm not seventy," said the invalid.
[5449]     
[5450]     "God forbid," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5451]     
[5452]     "It doesn't pain you now?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
[5453]     
[5454]     Mr. M'Coy had been at one time a tenor of some reputation. His
[5455]     wife, who had been a soprano, still taught young children to play
[5456]     the piano at low terms. His line of life had not been the shortest
[5457]     distance between two points and for short periods he had been
[5458]     driven to live by his wits. He had been a clerk in the Midland
[5459]     Railway, a canvasser for advertisements for The Irish Times and
[5460]     for The Freeman's Journal, a town traveller for a coal firm on
[5461]     commission, a private inquiry agent, a clerk in the office of the
[5462]     Sub-Sheriff, and he had recently become secretary to the City
[5463]     Coroner. His new office made him professionally interested in Mr.
[5464]     Kernan's case.
[5465]     
[5466]     "Pain? Not much," answered Mr. Kernan. "But it's so sickening. I
[5467]     feel as if I wanted to retch off."
[5468]     
[5469]     "That's the boose," said Mr. Cunningham firmly.
[5470]     
[5471]     "No," said Mr. Kernan. "I think I caught cold on the car. There's
[5472]     something keeps coming into my throat, phlegm or----"
[5473]     
[5474]     "Mucus." said Mr. M'Coy.
[5475]     
[5476]     "It keeps coming like from down in my throat; sickening."
[5477]     
[5478]     "Yes, yes," said Mr. M'Coy, "that's the thorax."
[5479]     
[5480]     He looked at Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Power at the same time
[5481]     with an air of challenge. Mr. Cunningham nodded his head rapidly
[5482]     and Mr. Power said:
[5483]     
[5484]     "Ah, well, all's well that ends well."
[5485]     
[5486]     "I'm very much obliged to you, old man," said the invalid.
[5487]     
[5488]     Mr. Power waved his hand.
[5489]     
[5490]     "Those other two fellows I was with----"
[5491]     
[5492]     "Who were you with?" asked Mr. Cunningham.
[5493]     
[5494]     "A chap. I don't know his name. Damn it now, what's his name?
[5495]     Little chap with sandy hair...."
[5496]     
[5497]     "And who else?"
[5498]     
[5499]     "Harford."
[5500]     
[5501]     "Hm," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5502]     
[5503]     When Mr. Cunningham made that remark, people were silent. It
[5504]     was known that the speaker had secret sources of information. In
[5505]     this case the monosyllable had a moral intention. Mr. Harford
[5506]     sometimes formed one of a little detachment which left the city
[5507]     shortly after noon on Sunday with the purpose of arriving as soon
[5508]     as possible at some public-house on the outskirts of the city where
[5509]     its members duly qualified themselves as bona fide travellers. But
[5510]     his fellow-travellers had never consented to overlook his origin.
[5511]     He had begun life as an obscure financier by lending small sums of
[5512]     money to workmen at usurious interest. Later on he had become
[5513]     the partner of a very fat, short gentleman, Mr. Goldberg, in the
[5514]     Liffey Loan Bank. Though he had never embraced more than the
[5515]     Jewish ethical code, his fellow-Catholics, whenever they had
[5516]     smarted in person or by proxy under his exactions, spoke of him
[5517]     bitterly as an Irish Jew and an illiterate, and saw divine
[5518]     disapproval of usury made manifest through the person of his idiot
[5519]     son. At other times they remembered his good points.
[5520]     
[5521]     "I wonder where did he go to," said Mr. Kernan.
[5522]     
[5523]     He wished the details of the incident to remain vague. He wished
[5524]     his friends to think there had been some mistake, that Mr. Harford
[5525]     and he had missed each other. His friends, who knew quite well
[5526]     Mr. Harford's manners in drinking were silent. Mr. Power said
[5527]     again:
[5528]     
[5529]     "All's well that ends well."
[5530]     
[5531]     Mr. Kernan changed the subject at once.
[5532]     
[5533]     "That was a decent young chap, that medical fellow," he said.
[5534]     "Only for him----"
[5535]     
[5536]     "O, only for him," said Mr. Power, "it might have been a case of
[5537]     seven days, without the option of a fine."
[5538]     
[5539]     "Yes, yes," said Mr. Kernan, trying to remember. "I remember now
[5540]     there was a policeman. Decent young fellow, he seemed. How did
[5541]     it happen at all?"
[5542]     
[5543]     "It happened that you were peloothered, Tom," said Mr.
[5544]     Cunningham gravely.
[5545]     
[5546]     "True bill," said Mr. Kernan, equally gravely.
[5547]     
[5548]     "I suppose you squared the constable, Jack," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5549]     
[5550]     Mr. Power did not relish the use of his Christian name. He was not
[5551]     straight-laced, but he could not forget that Mr. M'Coy had recently
[5552]     made a crusade in search of valises and portmanteaus to enable
[5553]     Mrs. M'Coy to fulfil imaginary engagements in the country. More
[5554]     than he resented the fact that he had been victimised he resented
[5555]     such low playing of the game. He answered the question,
[5556]     therefore, as if Mr. Kernan had asked it.
[5557]     
[5558]     The narrative made Mr. Kernan indignant. He was keenly
[5559]     conscious of his citizenship, wished to live with his city on terms
[5560]     mutually honourable and resented any affront put upon him by
[5561]     those whom he called country bumpkins.
[5562]     
[5563]     "Is this what we pay rates for?" he asked. "To feed and clothe these
[5564]     ignorant bostooms... and they're nothing else."
[5565]     
[5566]     Mr. Cunningham laughed. He was a Castle official only during
[5567]     office hours.
[5568]     
[5569]     "How could they be anything else, Tom?" he said.
[5570]     
[5571]     He assumed a thick, provincial accent and said in a tone of
[5572]     command:
[5573]     
[5574]     "65, catch your cabbage!"
[5575]     
[5576]     Everyone laughed. Mr. M'Coy, who wanted to enter the
[5577]     conversation by any door, pretended that he had never heard the
[5578]     story. Mr. Cunningham said:
[5579]     
[5580]     "It is supposed--they say, you know--to take place in the depot
[5581]     where they get these thundering big country fellows, omadhauns,
[5582]     you know, to drill. The sergeant makes them stand in a row against
[5583]     the wall and hold up their plates."
[5584]     
[5585]     He illustrated the story by grotesque gestures.
[5586]     
[5587]     "At dinner, you know. Then he has a bloody big bowl of cabbage
[5588]     before him on the table and a bloody big spoon like a shovel. He
[5589]     takes up a wad of cabbage on the spoon and pegs it across the
[5590]     room and the poor devils have to try and catch it on their plates:
[5591]     65, catch your cabbage."
[5592]     
[5593]     Everyone laughed again: but Mr. Kernan was somewhat indignant
[5594]     still. He talked of writing a letter to the papers.
[5595]     
[5596]     "These yahoos coming up here," he said, "think they can boss the
[5597]     people. I needn't tell you, Martin, what kind of men they are."
[5598]     
[5599]     Mr. Cunningham gave a qualified assent.
[5600]     
[5601]     "It's like everything else in this world," he said. "You get some bad
[5602]     ones and you get some good ones."
[5603]     
[5604]     "O yes, you get some good ones, I admit," said Mr. Kernan,
[5605]     satisfied.
[5606]     
[5607]     "It's better to have nothing to say to them," said Mr. M'Coy. "That's
[5608]     my opinion!"
[5609]     
[5610]     Mrs. Kernan entered the room and, placing a tray on the table,
[5611]     said:
[5612]     
[5613]     "Help yourselves, gentlemen."
[5614]     
[5615]     Mr. Power stood up to officiate, offering her his chair. She
[5616]     declined it, saying she was ironing downstairs, and, after having
[5617]     exchanged a nod with Mr. Cunningham behind Mr. Power's back,
[5618]     prepared to leave the room. Her husband called out to her:
[5619]     
[5620]     "And have you nothing for me, duckie?"
[5621]     
[5622]     "O, you! The back of my hand to you!" said Mrs. Kernan tartly.
[5623]     
[5624]     Her husband called after her:
[5625]     
[5626]     "Nothing for poor little hubby!"
[5627]     
[5628]     He assumed such a comical face and voice that the distribution of
[5629]     the bottles of stout took place amid general merriment.
[5630]     
[5631]     The gentlemen drank from their glasses, set the glasses again on
[5632]     the table and paused. Then Mr. Cunningham turned towards Mr.
[5633]     Power and said casually:
[5634]     
[5635]     "On Thursday night, you said, Jack "
[5636]     
[5637]     "Thursday, yes," said Mr. Power.
[5638]     
[5639]     "Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham promptly.
[5640]     
[5641]     "We can meet in M'Auley's," said Mr. M'Coy. "That'll be the most
[5642]     convenient place."
[5643]     
[5644]     "But we mustn't be late," said Mr. Power earnestly, "because it is
[5645]     sure to be crammed to the doors."
[5646]     
[5647]     "We can meet at half-seven," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5648]     
[5649]     "Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham.
[5650]     
[5651]     "Half-seven at M'Auley's be it!"
[5652]     
[5653]     There was a short silence. Mr. Kernan waited to see whether he
[5654]     would be taken into his friends' confidence. Then he asked:
[5655]     
[5656]     "What's in the wind?"
[5657]     
[5658]     "O, it's nothing," said Mr. Cunningham. "It's only a little matter
[5659]     that we're arranging about for Thursday."
[5660]     
[5661]     "The opera, is it?" said Mr. Kernan.
[5662]     
[5663]     "No, no," said Mr. Cunningham in an evasive tone, "it's just a
[5664]     little... spiritual matter."
[5665]     
[5666]     "0," said Mr. Kernan.
[5667]     
[5668]     There was silence again. Then Mr. Power said, point blank:
[5669]     
[5670]     "To tell you the truth, Tom, we're going to make a retreat."
[5671]     
[5672]     "Yes, that's it," said Mr. Cunningham, "Jack and I and M'Coy here
[5673]     --we're all going to wash the pot."
[5674]     
[5675]     He uttered the metaphor with a certain homely energy and,
[5676]     encouraged by his own voice, proceeded:
[5677]     
[5678]     "You see, we may as well all admit we're a nice collection of
[5679]     scoundrels, one and all. I say, one and all," he added with gruff
[5680]     charity and turning to Mr. Power. "Own up now!"
[5681]     
[5682]     "I own up," said Mr. Power.
[5683]     
[5684]     "And I own up," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5685]     
[5686]     "So we're going to wash the pot together," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5687]     
[5688]     A thought seemed to strike him. He turned suddenly to the invalid
[5689]     and said:
[5690]     
[5691]     "D'ye know what, Tom, has just occurred to me? You night join in
[5692]     and we'd have a four-handed reel."
[5693]     
[5694]     "Good idea," said Mr. Power. "The four of us together."
[5695]     
[5696]     Mr. Kernan was silent. The proposal conveyed very little meaning
[5697]     to his mind, but, understanding that some spiritual agencies were
[5698]     about to concern themselves on his behalf, he thought he owed it
[5699]     to his dignity to show a stiff neck. He took no part in the
[5700]     conversation for a long while, but listened, with an air of calm
[5701]     enmity, while his friends discussed the Jesuits.
[5702]     
[5703]     "I haven't such a bad opinion of the Jesuits," he said, intervening at
[5704]     length. "They're an educated order. I believe they mean well, too."
[5705]     
[5706]     "They're the grandest order in the Church, Tom," said Mr.
[5707]     Cunningham, with enthusiasm. "The General of the Jesuits stands
[5708]     next to the Pope."
[5709]     
[5710]     "There's no mistake about it," said Mr. M'Coy, "if you want a thing
[5711]     well done and no flies about, you go to a Jesuit. They're the boyos
[5712]     have influence. I'll tell you a case in point...."
[5713]     
[5714]     "The Jesuits are a fine body of men," said Mr. Power.
[5715]     
[5716]     "It's a curious thing," said Mr. Cunningham, "about the Jesuit
[5717]     Order. Every other order of the Church had to be reformed at some
[5718]     time or other but the Jesuit Order was never once reformed. It
[5719]     never fell away."
[5720]     
[5721]     "Is that so?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
[5722]     
[5723]     "That's a fact," said Mr. Cunningham. "That's history."
[5724]     
[5725]     "Look at their church, too," said Mr. Power. "Look at the
[5726]     congregation they have."
[5727]     
[5728]     "The Jesuits cater for the upper classes," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5729]     
[5730]     "Of course," said Mr. Power.
[5731]     
[5732]     "Yes," said Mr. Kernan. "That's why I have a feeling for them. It's
[5733]     some of those secular priests, ignorant, bumptious----"
[5734]     
[5735]     "They're all good men," said Mr. Cunningham, "each in his own
[5736]     way. The Irish priesthood is honoured all the world over."
[5737]     
[5738]     "O yes," said Mr. Power.
[5739]     
[5740]     "Not like some of the other priesthoods on the continent," said Mr.
[5741]     M'Coy, "unworthy of the name."
[5742]     
[5743]     "Perhaps you're right," said Mr. Kernan, relenting.
[5744]     
[5745]     "Of course I'm right," said Mr. Cunningham. "I haven't been in the
[5746]     world all this time and seen most sides of it without being a judge
[5747]     of character."
[5748]     
[5749]     The gentlemen drank again, one following another's example. Mr.
[5750]     Kernan seemed to be weighing something in his mind. He was
[5751]     impressed. He had a high opinion of Mr. Cunningham as a judge
[5752]     of character and as a reader of faces. He asked for particulars.
[5753]     
[5754]     "O, it's just a retreat, you know," said Mr. Cunningham. "Father
[5755]     Purdon is giving it. It's for business men, you know."
[5756]     
[5757]     "He won't be too hard on us, Tom," said Mr. Power persuasively.
[5758]     
[5759]     "Father Purdon? Father Purdon?" said the invalid.
[5760]     
[5761]     "O, you must know him, Tom," said Mr. Cunningham stoutly.
[5762]     "Fine, jolly fellow! He's a man of the world like ourselves."
[5763]     
[5764]     "Ah,... yes. I think I know him. Rather red face; tall."
[5765]     
[5766]     "That's the man."
[5767]     
[5768]     "And tell me, Martin.... Is he a good preacher?"
[5769]     
[5770]     "Munno.... It's not exactly a sermon, you know. It's just kind of a
[5771]     friendly talk, you know, in a common-sense way."
[5772]     
[5773]     Mr. Kernan deliberated. Mr. M'Coy said:
[5774]     
[5775]     "Father Tom Burke, that was the boy!"
[5776]     
[5777]     "O, Father Tom Burke," said Mr. Cunningham, "that was a born
[5778]     orator. Did you ever hear him, Tom?"
[5779]     
[5780]     "Did I ever hear him!" said the invalid, nettled. "Rather! I heard
[5781]     him...."
[5782]     
[5783]     "And yet they say he wasn't much of a theologian," said Mr
[5784]     Cunningham.
[5785]     
[5786]     "Is that so?" said Mr. M'Coy.
[5787]     
[5788]     "O, of course, nothing wrong, you know. Only sometimes, they
[5789]     say, he didn't preach what was quite orthodox."
[5790]     
[5791]     "Ah!... he was a splendid man," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5792]     
[5793]     "I heard him once," Mr. Kernan continued. "I forget the subject of
[5794]     his discourse now. Crofton and I were in the back of the... pit, you
[5795]     know... the----"
[5796]     
[5797]     "The body," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5798]     
[5799]     "Yes, in the back near the door. I forget now what.... O yes, it was
[5800]     on the Pope, the late Pope. I remember it well. Upon my word it
[5801]     was magnificent, the style of the oratory. And his voice! God!
[5802]     hadn't he a voice! The Prisoner of the Vatican, he called him. I
[5803]     remember Crofton saying to me when we came out----"
[5804]     
[5805]     "But he's an Orangeman, Crofton, isn't he?" said Mr. Power.
[5806]     
[5807]     "'Course he is," said Mr. Kernan, "and a damned decent
[5808]     Orangeman too. We went into Butler's in Moore Street--faith, was
[5809]     genuinely moved, tell you the God's truth--and I remember well
[5810]     his very words. Kernan, he said, we worship at different altars, he
[5811]     said, but our belief is the same. Struck me as very well put."
[5812]     
[5813]     "There's a good deal in that," said Mr. Power. "There used always
[5814]     be crowds of Protestants in the chapel where Father Tom was
[5815]     preaching."
[5816]     
[5817]     "There's not much difference between us," said Mr. M'Coy.
[5818]     
[5819]     "We both believe in----"
[5820]     
[5821]     He hesitated for a moment.
[5822]     
[5823]     "... in the Redeemer. Only they don't believe in the Pope and in the
[5824]     mother of God."
[5825]     
[5826]     "But, of course," said Mr. Cunningham quietly and effectively,
[5827]     "our religion is the religion, the old, original faith."
[5828]     
[5829]     "Not a doubt of it," said Mr. Kernan warmly.
[5830]     
[5831]     Mrs. Kernan came to the door of the bedroom and announced:
[5832]     
[5833]     "Here's a visitor for you!"
[5834]     
[5835]     "Who is it?"
[5836]     
[5837]     "Mr. Fogarty."
[5838]     
[5839]     "O, come in! come in!"
[5840]     
[5841]     A pale, oval face came forward into the light. The arch of its fair
[5842]     trailing moustache was repeated in the fair eyebrows looped above
[5843]     pleasantly astonished eyes. Mr. Fogarty was a modest grocer. He
[5844]     had failed in business in a licensed house in the city because his
[5845]     financial condition had constrained him to tie himself to
[5846]     second-class distillers and brewers. He had opened a small shop on
[5847]     Glasnevin Road where, he flattered himself, his manners would
[5848]     ingratiate him with the housewives of the district. He bore himself
[5849]     with a certain grace, complimented little children and spoke with a
[5850]     neat enunciation. He was not without culture.
[5851]     
[5852]     Mr. Fogarty brought a gift with him, a half-pint of special whisky.
[5853]     He inquired politely for Mr. Kernan, placed his gift on the table
[5854]     and sat down with the company on equal terms. Mr. Kernan
[5855]     appreciated the gift all the more since he was aware that there was
[5856]     a small account for groceries unsettled between him and Mr.
[5857]     Fogarty. He said:
[5858]     
[5859]     "I wouldn't doubt you, old man. Open that, Jack, will you?"
[5860]     
[5861]     Mr. Power again officiated. Glasses were rinsed and five small
[5862]     measures of whisky were poured out. This new influence
[5863]     enlivened the conversation. Mr. Fogarty, sitting on a small area of
[5864]     the chair, was specially interested.
[5865]     
[5866]     "Pope Leo XIII," said Mr. Cunningham, "was one of the lights of
[5867]     the age. His great idea, you know, was the union of the Latin and
[5868]     Greek Churches. That was the aim of his life."
[5869]     
[5870]     "I often heard he was one of the most intellectual men in Europe,"
[5871]     said Mr. Power. "I mean, apart from his being Pope."
[5872]     
[5873]     "So he was," said Mr. Cunningham, "if not the most so. His motto,
[5874]     you know, as Pope, was Lux upon Lux--Light upon Light."
[5875]     
[5876]     "No, no," said Mr. Fogarty eagerly. "I think you're wrong there. It
[5877]     was Lux in Tenebris, I think--Light in Darkness."
[5878]     
[5879]     "O yes," said Mr. M'Coy, "Tenebrae."
[5880]     
[5881]     "Allow me," said Mr. Cunningham positively, "it was Lux upon
[5882]     Lux. And Pius IX his predecessor's motto was Crux upon Crux--
[5883]     that is, Cross upon Cross--to show the difference between their
[5884]     two pontificates."
[5885]     
[5886]     The inference was allowed. Mr. Cunningham continued.
[5887]     
[5888]     "Pope Leo, you know, was a great scholar and a poet."
[5889]     
[5890]     "He had a strong face," said Mr. Kernan.
[5891]     
[5892]     "Yes," said Mr. Cunningham. "He wrote Latin poetry."
[5893]     
[5894]     "Is that so?" said Mr. Fogarty.
[5895]     
[5896]     Mr. M'Coy tasted his whisky contentedly and shook his head with
[5897]     a double intention, saying:
[5898]     
[5899]     "That's no joke, I can tell you."
[5900]     
[5901]     "We didn't learn that, Tom," said Mr. Power, following Mr.
[5902]     M'Coy's example, "when we went to the penny-a-week school."
[5903]     
[5904]     "There was many a good man went to the penny-a-week school
[5905]     with a sod of turf under his oxter," said Mr. Kernan sententiously.
[5906]     "The old system was the best: plain honest education. None of
[5907]     your modern trumpery...."
[5908]     
[5909]     "Quite right," said Mr. Power.
[5910]     
[5911]     "No superfluities," said Mr. Fogarty.
[5912]     
[5913]     He enunciated the word and then drank gravely.
[5914]     
[5915]     "I remember reading," said Mr. Cunningham, "that one of Pope
[5916]     Leo's poems was on the invention of the photograph--in Latin, of
[5917]     course."
[5918]     
[5919]     "On the photograph!" exclaimed Mr. Kernan.
[5920]     
[5921]     "Yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5922]     
[5923]     He also drank from his glass.
[5924]     
[5925]     "Well, you know," said Mr. M'Coy, "isn't the photograph
[5926]     wonderful when you come to think of it?"
[5927]     
[5928]     "O, of course," said Mr. Power, "great minds can see things."
[5929]     
[5930]     "As the poet says: Great minds are very near to madness," said Mr.
[5931]     Fogarty.
[5932]     
[5933]     Mr. Kernan seemed to be troubled in mind. He made an effort to
[5934]     recall the Protestant theology on some thorny points and in the end
[5935]     addressed Mr. Cunningham.
[5936]     
[5937]     "Tell me, Martin," he said. "Weren't some of the popes--of
[5938]     course, not our present man, or his predecessor, but some of the
[5939]     old popes--not exactly ... you know... up to the knocker?"
[5940]     
[5941]     There was a silence. Mr. Cunningham said
[5942]     
[5943]     "O, of course, there were some bad lots... But the astonishing thing
[5944]     is this. Not one of them, not the biggest drunkard, not the most...
[5945]     out-and-out ruffian, not one of them ever preached ex cathedra a
[5946]     word of false doctrine. Now isn't that an astonishing thing?"
[5947]     
[5948]     "That is," said Mr. Kernan.
[5949]     
[5950]     "Yes, because when the Pope speaks ex cathedra," Mr. Fogarty
[5951]     explained, "he is infallible."
[5952]     
[5953]     "Yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
[5954]     
[5955]     "O, I know about the infallibility of the Pope. I remember I was
[5956]     younger then.... Or was it that----?"
[5957]     
[5958]     Mr. Fogarty interrupted. He took up the bottle and helped the
[5959]     others to a little more. Mr. M'Coy, seeing that there was not
[5960]     enough to go round, pleaded that he had not finished his first
[5961]     measure. The others accepted under protest. The light music of
[5962]     whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.
[5963]     
[5964]     "What's that you were saying, Tom?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
[5965]     
[5966]     "Papal infallibility," said Mr. Cunningham, "that was the greatest
[5967]     scene in the whole history of the Church."
[5968]     
[5969]     "How was that, Martin?" asked Mr. Power.
[5970]     
[5971]     Mr. Cunningham held up two thick fingers.
[5972]     
[5973]     "In the sacred college, you know, of cardinals and archbishops and
[5974]     bishops there were two men who held out against it while the
[5975]     others were all for it. The whole conclave except these two was
[5976]     unanimous. No! They wouldn't have it!"
[5977]     
[5978]     "Ha!" said Mr. M'Coy.
[5979]     
[5980]     "And they were a German cardinal by the name of Dolling... or
[5981]     Dowling... or----"
[5982]     
[5983]     "Dowling was no German, and that's a sure five," said Mr. Power,
[5984]     laughing.
[5985]     
[5986]     "Well, this great German cardinal, whatever his name was, was
[5987]     one; and the other was John MacHale."
[5988]     
[5989]     "What?" cried Mr. Kernan. "Is it John of Tuam?"
[5990]     
[5991]     "Are you sure of that now?" asked Mr. Fogarty dubiously. "I
[5992]     thought it was some Italian or American."
[5993]     
[5994]     "John of Tuam," repeated Mr. Cunningham, "was the man."
[5995]     
[5996]     He drank and the other gentlemen followed his lead. Then he
[5997]     resumed:
[5998]     
[5999]     "There they were at it, all the cardinals and bishops and
[6000]     archbishops from all the ends of the earth and these two fighting
[6001]     dog and devil until at last the Pope himself stood up and declared
[6002]     infallibility a dogma of the Church ex cathedra. On the very
[6003]     moment John MacHale, who had been arguing and arguing against
[6004]     it, stood up and shouted out with the voice of a lion: 'Credo!'"
[6005]     
[6006]     "I believe!" said Mr. Fogarty.
[6007]     
[6008]     "Credo!" said Mr. Cunningham "That showed the faith he had. He
[6009]     submitted the moment the Pope spoke."
[6010]     
[6011]     "And what about Dowling?" asked Mr. M'Coy.
[6012]     
[6013]     "The German cardinal wouldn't submit. He left the church."
[6014]     
[6015]     Mr. Cunningham's words had built up the vast image of the church
[6016]     in the minds of his hearers. His deep, raucous voice had thrilled
[6017]     them as it uttered the word of belief and submission. When Mrs.
[6018]     Kernan came into the room, drying her hands she came into a
[6019]     solemn company. She did not disturb the silence, but leaned over
[6020]     the rail at the foot of the bed.
[6021]     
[6022]     "I once saw John MacHale," said Mr. Kernan, "and I'll never forget
[6023]     it as long as I live."
[6024]     
[6025]     He turned towards his wife to be confirmed.
[6026]     
[6027]     "I often told you that?"
[6028]     
[6029]     Mrs. Kernan nodded.
[6030]     
[6031]     "It was at the unveiling of Sir John Gray's statue. Edmund Dwyer
[6032]     Gray was speaking, blathering away, and here was this old fellow,
[6033]     crabbed-looking old chap, looking at him from under his bushy
[6034]     eyebrows."
[6035]     
[6036]     Mr. Kernan knitted his brows and, lowering his head like an angry
[6037]     bull, glared at his wife.
[6038]     
[6039]     "God!" he exclaimed, resuming his natural face, "I never saw such
[6040]     an eye in a man's head. It was as much as to say: I have you
[6041]     properly taped, my lad. He had an eye like a hawk."
[6042]     
[6043]     "None of the Grays was any good," said Mr. Power.
[6044]     
[6045]     There was a pause again. Mr. Power turned to Mrs. Kernan and
[6046]     said with abrupt joviality:
[6047]     
[6048]     "Well, Mrs. Kernan, we're going to make your man here a good
[6049]     holy pious and God-fearing Roman Catholic."
[6050]     
[6051]     He swept his arm round the company inclusively.
[6052]     
[6053]     "We're all going to make a retreat together and confess our sins--
[6054]     and God knows we want it badly."
[6055]     
[6056]     "I don't mind," said Mr. Kernan, smiling a little nervously.
[6057]     
[6058]     Mrs. Kernan thought it would be wiser to conceal her satisfaction.
[6059]     So she said:
[6060]     
[6061]     "I pity the poor priest that has to listen to your tale."
[6062]     
[6063]     Mr. Kernan's expression changed.
[6064]     
[6065]     "If he doesn't like it," he said bluntly, "he can... do the other thing.
[6066]     I'll just tell him my little tale of woe. I'm not such a bad fellow----"
[6067]     
[6068]     Mr. Cunningham intervened promptly.
[6069]     
[6070]     "We'll all renounce the devil," he said, "together, not forgetting his
[6071]     works and pomps."
[6072]     
[6073]     "Get behind me, Satan!" said Mr. Fogarty, laughing and looking at
[6074]     the others.
[6075]     
[6076]     Mr. Power said nothing. He felt completely out-generalled. But a
[6077]     pleased expression flickered across his face.
[6078]     
[6079]     "All we have to do," said Mr. Cunningham, "is to stand up with
[6080]     lighted candles in our hands and renew our baptismal vows."
[6081]     
[6082]     "O, don't forget the candle, Tom," said Mr. M'Coy, "whatever you
[6083]     do."
[6084]     
[6085]     "What?" said Mr. Kernan. "Must I have a candle?"
[6086]     
[6087]     "O yes," said Mr. Cunningham.
[6088]     
[6089]     "No, damn it all," said Mr. Kernan sensibly, "I draw the line there.
[6090]     I'll do the job right enough. I'll do the retreat business and
[6091]     confession, and... all that business. But... no candles! No, damn it
[6092]     all, I bar the candles!"
[6093]     
[6094]     He shook his head with farcical gravity.
[6095]     
[6096]     "Listen to that!" said his wife.
[6097]     
[6098]     "I bar the candles," said Mr. Kernan, conscious of having created
[6099]     an effect on his audience and continuing to shake his head to and
[6100]     fro. "I bar the magic-lantern business."
[6101]     
[6102]     Everyone laughed heartily.
[6103]     
[6104]     "There's a nice Catholic for you!" said his wife.
[6105]     
[6106]     "No candles!" repeated Mr. Kernan obdurately. "That's off!"
[6107]     
[6108]     
[6109]     
[6110]     
[6111]     
[6112]     
[6113]     The transept of the Jesuit Church in Gardiner Street was almost
[6114]     full; and still at every moment gentlemen entered from the side
[6115]     door and, directed by the lay-brother, walked on tiptoe along the
[6116]     aisles until they found seating accommodation. The gentlemen
[6117]     were all well dressed and orderly. The light of the lamps of the
[6118]     church fell upon an assembly of black clothes and white collars,
[6119]     relieved here and there by tweeds, on dark mottled pillars of green
[6120]     marble and on lugubrious canvases. The gentlemen sat in the
[6121]     benches, having hitched their trousers slightly above their knees
[6122]     and laid their hats in security. They sat well back and gazed
[6123]     formally at the distant speck of red light which was suspended
[6124]     before the high altar.
[6125]     
[6126]     In one of the benches near the pulpit sat Mr. Cunningham and Mr.
[6127]     Kernan. In the bench behind sat Mr. M'Coy alone: and in the bench
[6128]     behind him sat Mr. Power and Mr. Fogarty. Mr. M'Coy had tried
[6129]     unsuccessfully to find a place in the bench with the others, and,
[6130]     when the party had settled down in the form of a quincunx, he had
[6131]     tried unsuccessfully to make comic remarks. As these had not been
[6132]     well received, he had desisted. Even he was sensible of the
[6133]     decorous atmosphere and even he began to respond to the religious
[6134]     stimulus. In a whisper, Mr. Cunningham drew Mr. Kernan's
[6135]     attention to Mr. Harford, the moneylender, who sat some distance
[6136]     off, and to Mr. Fanning, the registration agent and mayor maker of
[6137]     the city, who was sitting immediately under the pulpit beside one
[6138]     of the newly elected councillors of the ward. To the right sat old
[6139]     Michael Grimes, the owner of three pawnbroker's shops, and Dan
[6140]     Hogan's nephew, who was up for the job in the Town Clerk's
[6141]     office. Farther in front sat Mr. Hendrick, the chief reporter of The
[6142]     Freeman's Journal, and poor O'Carroll, an old friend of Mr.
[6143]     Kernan's, who had been at one time a considerable commercial
[6144]     figure. Gradually, as he recognised familiar faces, Mr. Kernan
[6145]     began to feel more at home. His hat, which had been rehabilitated
[6146]     by his wife, rested upon his knees. Once or twice he pulled down
[6147]     his cuffs with one hand while he held the brim of his hat lightly,
[6148]     but firmly, with the other hand.
[6149]     
[6150]     A powerful-looking figure, the upper part of which was draped
[6151]     with a white surplice, was observed to be struggling into the pulpit.
[6152]     Simultaneously the congregation unsettled, produced
[6153]     handkerchiefs and knelt upon them with care. Mr. Kernan
[6154]     followed the general example. The priest's figure now stood
[6155]     upright in the pulpit, two-thirds of its bulk, crowned by a massive
[6156]     red face, appearing above the balustrade.
[6157]     
[6158]     Father Purdon knelt down, turned towards the red speck of light
[6159]     and, covering his face with his hands, prayed. After an interval, he
[6160]     uncovered his face and rose. The congregation rose also and
[6161]     settled again on its benches. Mr. Kernan restored his hat to its
[6162]     original position on his knee and presented an attentive face to the
[6163]     preacher. The preacher turned back each wide sleeve of his
[6164]     surplice with an elaborate large gesture and slowly surveyed the
[6165]     array of faces. Then he said:
[6166]     
[6167]     "For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than
[6168]     the children of light. Wherefore make unto yourselves friends out
[6169]     of the mammon of iniquity so that when you die they may receive
[6170]     you into everlasting dwellings."
[6171]     
[6172]     Father Purdon developed the text with resonant assurance. It was
[6173]     one of the most difficult texts in all the Scriptures, he said, to
[6174]     interpret properly. It was a text which might seem to the casual
[6175]     observer at variance with the lofty morality elsewhere preached by
[6176]     Jesus Christ. But, he told his hearers, the text had seemed to him
[6177]     specially adapted for the guidance of those whose lot it was to lead
[6178]     the life of the world and who yet wished to lead that life not in the
[6179]     manner of worldlings. It was a text for business men and
[6180]     professional men. Jesus Christ with His divine understanding of
[6181]     every cranny of our human nature, understood that all men were
[6182]     not called to the religious life, that by far the vast majority were
[6183]     forced to live in the world, and, to a certain extent, for the world:
[6184]     and in this sentence He designed to give them a word of counsel,
[6185]     setting before them as exemplars in the religious life those very
[6186]     worshippers of Mammon who were of all men the least solicitous
[6187]     in matters religious.
[6188]     
[6189]     He told his hearers that he was there that evening for no terrifying,
[6190]     no extravagant purpose; but as a man of the world speaking to his
[6191]     fellow-men. He came to speak to business men and he would
[6192]     speak to them in a businesslike way. If he might use the metaphor,
[6193]     he said, he was their spiritual accountant; and he wished each and
[6194]     every one of his hearers to open his books, the books of his
[6195]     spiritual life, and see if they tallied accurately with conscience.
[6196]     
[6197]     Jesus Christ was not a hard taskmaster. He understood our little
[6198]     failings, understood the weakness of our poor fallen nature,
[6199]     understood the temptations of this life. We might have had, we all
[6200]     had from time to time, our temptations: we might have, we all had,
[6201]     our failings. But one thing only, he said, he would ask of his
[6202]     hearers. And that was: to be straight and manly with God. If their
[6203]     accounts tallied in every point to say:
[6204]     
[6205]     "Well, I have verified my accounts. I find all well."
[6206]     
[6207]     But if, as might happen, there were some discrepancies, to admit
[6208]     the truth, to be frank and say like a man:
[6209]     
[6210]     "Well, I have looked into my accounts. I find this wrong and this
[6211]     wrong. But, with God's grace, I will rectify this and this. I will set
[6212]     right my accounts."
[6213]