Dubliners by James Joyce
The Dead

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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[6214]     THE DEAD
[6215]     
[6216]     LILY, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet.
[6217]     Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind
[6218]     the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat
[6219]     than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to
[6220]     scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest. It was well
[6221]     for her she had not to attend to the ladies also. But Miss Kate and
[6222]     Miss Julia had thought of that and had converted the bathroom
[6223]     upstairs into a ladies' dressing-room. Miss Kate and Miss Julia
[6224]     were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each
[6225]     other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters and
[6226]     calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.
[6227]     
[6228]     It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance.
[6229]     Everybody who knew them came to it, members of the family, old
[6230]     friends of the family, the members of Julia's choir, any of Kate's
[6231]     pupils that were grown up enough, and even some of Mary Jane's
[6232]     pupils too. Never once had it fallen flat. For years and years it had
[6233]     gone off in splendid style, as long as anyone could remember; ever
[6234]     since Kate and Julia, after the death of their brother Pat, had left
[6235]     the house in Stoney Batter and taken Mary Jane, their only niece,
[6236]     to live with them in the dark, gaunt house on Usher's Island, the
[6237]     upper part of which they had rented from Mr. Fulham, the
[6238]     corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a good thirty years ago if
[6239]     it was a day. Mary Jane, who was then a little girl in short clothes,
[6240]     was now the main prop of the household, for she had the organ in
[6241]     Haddington Road. She had been through the Academy and gave a
[6242]     pupils' concert every year in the upper room of the Antient Concert
[6243]     Rooms. Many of her pupils belonged to the better-class families on
[6244]     the Kingstown and Dalkey line. Old as they were, her aunts also
[6245]     did their share. Julia, though she was quite grey, was still the
[6246]     leading soprano in Adam and Eve's, and Kate, being too feeble to
[6247]     go about much, gave music lessons to beginners on the old square
[6248]     piano in the back room. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, did
[6249]     housemaid's work for them. Though their life was modest, they
[6250]     believed in eating well; the best of everything: diamond-bone
[6251]     sirloins, three-shilling tea and the best bottled stout. But Lily
[6252]     seldom made a mistake in the orders, so that she got on well with
[6253]     her three mistresses. They were fussy, that was all. But the only
[6254]     thing they would not stand was back answers.
[6255]     
[6256]     Of course, they had good reason to be fussy on such a night. And
[6257]     then it was long after ten o'clock and yet there was no sign of
[6258]     Gabriel and his wife. Besides they were dreadfully afraid that
[6259]     Freddy Malins might turn up screwed. They would not wish for
[6260]     worlds that any of Mary Jane's pupils should see him under the
[6261]     influence; and when he was like that it was sometimes very hard to
[6262]     manage him. Freddy Malins always came late, but they wondered
[6263]     what could be keeping Gabriel: and that was what brought them
[6264]     every two minutes to the banisters to ask Lily had Gabriel or
[6265]     Freddy come.
[6266]     
[6267]     "O, Mr. Conroy," said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door
[6268]     for him, "Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never
[6269]     coming. Good-night, Mrs. Conroy."
[6270]     
[6271]     "I'll engage they did," said Gabriel, "but they forget that my wife
[6272]     here takes three mortal hours to dress herself."
[6273]     
[6274]     He stood on the mat, scraping the snow from his goloshes, while
[6275]     Lily led his wife to the foot of the stairs and called out:
[6276]     
[6277]     "Miss Kate, here's Mrs. Conroy."
[6278]     
[6279]     Kate and Julia came toddling down the dark stairs at once. Both of
[6280]     them kissed Gabriel's wife, said she must be perished alive, and
[6281]     asked was Gabriel with her.
[6282]     
[6283]     "Here I am as right as the mail, Aunt Kate! Go on up. I'll follow,"
[6284]     called out Gabriel from the dark.
[6285]     
[6286]     He continued scraping his feet vigorously while the three women
[6287]     went upstairs, laughing, to the ladies' dressing-room. A light fringe
[6288]     of snow lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like
[6289]     toecaps on the toes of his goloshes; and, as the buttons of his
[6290]     overcoat slipped with a squeaking noise through the
[6291]     snow-stiffened frieze, a cold, fragrant air from out-of-doors
[6292]     escaped from crevices and folds.
[6293]     
[6294]     "Is it snowing again, Mr. Conroy?" asked Lily.
[6295]     
[6296]     She had preceded him into the pantry to help him off with his
[6297]     overcoat. Gabriel smiled at the three syllables she had given his
[6298]     surname and glanced at her. She was a slim; growing girl, pale in
[6299]     complexion and with hay-coloured hair. The gas in the pantry
[6300]     made her look still paler. Gabriel had known her when she was a
[6301]     child and used to sit on the lowest step nursing a rag doll.
[6302]     
[6303]     "Yes, Lily," he answered, "and I think we're in for a night of it."
[6304]     
[6305]     He looked up at the pantry ceiling, which was shaking with the
[6306]     stamping and shuffling of feet on the floor above, listened for a
[6307]     moment to the piano and then glanced at the girl, who was folding
[6308]     his overcoat carefully at the end of a shelf.
[6309]     
[6310]     "Tell me. Lily," he said in a friendly tone, "do you still go to
[6311]     school?"
[6312]     
[6313]     "O no, sir," she answered. "I'm done schooling this year and more."
[6314]     
[6315]     "O, then," said Gabriel gaily, "I suppose we'll be going to your
[6316]     wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh? "
[6317]     
[6318]     The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great
[6319]     bitterness:
[6320]     
[6321]     "The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out
[6322]     of you."
[6323]     
[6324]     Gabriel coloured, as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without
[6325]     looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his
[6326]     muffler at his patent-leather shoes.
[6327]     
[6328]     He was a stout, tallish young man. The high colour of his cheeks
[6329]     pushed upwards even to his forehead, where it scattered itself in a
[6330]     few formless patches of pale red; and on his hairless face there
[6331]     scintillated restlessly the polished lenses and the bright gilt rims of
[6332]     the glasses which screened his delicate and restless eyes. His
[6333]     glossy black hair was parted in the middle and brushed in a long
[6334]     curve behind his ears where it curled slightly beneath the groove
[6335]     left by his hat.
[6336]     
[6337]     When he had flicked lustre into his shoes he stood up and pulled
[6338]     his waistcoat down more tightly on his plump body. Then he took
[6339]     a coin rapidly from his pocket.
[6340]     
[6341]     "O Lily," he said, thrusting it into her hands, "it's Christmastime,
[6342]     isn't it? Just... here's a little...."
[6343]     
[6344]     He walked rapidly towards the door.
[6345]     
[6346]     "O no, sir!" cried the girl, following him. "Really, sir, I wouldn't
[6347]     take it."
[6348]     
[6349]     "Christmas-time! Christmas-time!" said Gabriel, almost trotting to
[6350]     the stairs and waving his hand to her in deprecation.
[6351]     
[6352]     The girl, seeing that he had gained the stairs, called out after him:
[6353]     
[6354]     "Well, thank you, sir."
[6355]     
[6356]     He waited outside the drawing-room door until the waltz should
[6357]     finish, listening to the skirts that swept against it and to the
[6358]     shuffling of feet. He was still discomposed by the girl's bitter and
[6359]     sudden retort. It had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel
[6360]     by arranging his cuffs and the bows of his tie. He then took from
[6361]     his waistcoat pocket a little paper and glanced at the headings he
[6362]     had made for his speech. He was undecided about the lines from
[6363]     Robert Browning, for he feared they would be above the heads of
[6364]     his hearers. Some quotation that they would recognise from
[6365]     Shakespeare or from the Melodies would be better. The indelicate
[6366]     clacking of the men's heels and the shuffling of their soles
[6367]     reminded him that their grade of culture differed from his. He
[6368]     would only make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them
[6369]     which they could not understand. They would think that he was
[6370]     airing his superior education. He would fail with them just as he
[6371]     had failed with the girl in the pantry. He had taken up a wrong
[6372]     tone. His whole speech was a mistake from first to last, an utter
[6373]     failure.
[6374]     
[6375]     Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies'
[6376]     dressing-room. His aunts were two small, plainly dressed old
[6377]     women. Aunt Julia was an inch or so the taller. Her hair, drawn
[6378]     low over the tops of her ears, was grey; and grey also, with darker
[6379]     shadows, was her large flaccid face. Though she was stout in build
[6380]     and stood erect, her slow eyes and parted lips gave her the
[6381]     appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where
[6382]     she was going. Aunt Kate was more vivacious. Her face, healthier
[6383]     than her sister's, was all puckers and creases, like a shrivelled red
[6384]     apple, and her hair, braided in the same old-fashioned way, had not
[6385]     lost its ripe nut colour.
[6386]     
[6387]     They both kissed Gabriel frankly. He was their favourite nephew
[6388]     the son of their dead elder sister, Ellen, who had married T. J.
[6389]     Conroy of the Port and Docks.
[6390]     
[6391]     "Gretta tells me you're not going to take a cab back to Monkstown
[6392]     tonight, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate.
[6393]     
[6394]     "No," said Gabriel, turning to his wife, "we had quite enough of
[6395]     that last year, hadn't we? Don't you remember, Aunt Kate, what a
[6396]     cold Gretta got out of it? Cab windows rattling all the way, and the
[6397]     east wind blowing in after we passed Merrion. Very jolly it was.
[6398]     Gretta caught a dreadful cold."
[6399]     
[6400]     Aunt Kate frowned severely and nodded her head at every word.
[6401]     
[6402]     "Quite right, Gabriel, quite right," she said. "You can't be too
[6403]     careful."
[6404]     
[6405]     "But as for Gretta there," said Gabriel, "she'd walk home in the
[6406]     snow if she were let."
[6407]     
[6408]     Mrs. Conroy laughed.
[6409]     
[6410]     "Don't mind him, Aunt Kate," she said. "He's really an awful
[6411]     bother, what with green shades for Tom's eyes at night and making
[6412]     him do the dumb-bells, and forcing Eva to eat the stirabout. The
[6413]     poor child! And she simply hates the sight of it!... O, but you'll
[6414]     never guess what he makes me wear now!"
[6415]     
[6416]     She broke out into a peal of laughter and glanced at her husband,
[6417]     whose admiring and happy eyes had been wandering from her
[6418]     dress to her face and hair. The two aunts laughed heartily, too, for
[6419]     Gabriel's solicitude was a standing joke with them.
[6420]     
[6421]     "Goloshes!" said Mrs. Conroy. "That's the latest. Whenever it's wet
[6422]     underfoot I must put on my galoshes. Tonight even, he wanted me
[6423]     to put them on, but I wouldn't. The next thing he'll buy me will be
[6424]     a diving suit."
[6425]     
[6426]     Gabriel laughed nervously and patted his tie reassuringly, while
[6427]     Aunt Kate nearly doubled herself, so heartily did she enjoy the
[6428]     joke. The smile soon faded from Aunt Julia's face and her
[6429]     mirthless eyes were directed towards her nephew's face. After a
[6430]     pause she asked:
[6431]     
[6432]     "And what are goloshes, Gabriel?"
[6433]     
[6434]     "Goloshes, Julia!" exclaimed her sister "Goodness me, don't you
[6435]     know what goloshes are? You wear them over your... over your
[6436]     boots, Gretta, isn't it?"
[6437]     
[6438]     "Yes," said Mrs. Conroy. "Guttapercha things. We both have a pair
[6439]     now. Gabriel says everyone wears them on the Continent."
[6440]     
[6441]     "O, on the Continent," murmured Aunt Julia, nodding her head
[6442]     slowly.
[6443]     
[6444]     Gabriel knitted his brows and said, as if he were slightly angered:
[6445]     
[6446]     "It's nothing very wonderful, but Gretta thinks it very funny
[6447]     because she says the word reminds her of Christy Minstrels."
[6448]     
[6449]     "But tell me, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate, with brisk tact. "Of course,
[6450]     you've seen about the room. Gretta was saying..."
[6451]     
[6452]     "0, the room is all right," replied Gabriel. "I've taken one in the
[6453]     Gresham."
[6454]     
[6455]     "To be sure," said Aunt Kate, "by far the best thing to do. And the
[6456]     children, Gretta, you're not anxious about them?"
[6457]     
[6458]     "0, for one night," said Mrs. Conroy. "Besides, Bessie will look
[6459]     after them."
[6460]     
[6461]     "To be sure," said Aunt Kate again. "What a comfort it is to have a
[6462]     girl like that, one you can depend on! There's that Lily, I'm sure I
[6463]     don't know what has come over her lately. She's not the girl she
[6464]     was at all."
[6465]     
[6466]     Gabriel was about to ask his aunt some questions on this point, but
[6467]     she broke off suddenly to gaze after her sister, who had wandered
[6468]     down the stairs and was craning her neck over the banisters.
[6469]     
[6470]     "Now, I ask you," she said almost testily, "where is Julia going?
[6471]     Julia! Julia! Where are you going?"
[6472]     
[6473]     Julia, who had gone half way down one flight, came back and
[6474]     announced blandly:
[6475]     
[6476]     "Here's Freddy."
[6477]     
[6478]     At the same moment a clapping of hands and a final flourish of the
[6479]     pianist told that the waltz had ended. The drawing-room door was
[6480]     opened from within and some couples came out. Aunt Kate drew
[6481]     Gabriel aside hurriedly and whispered into his ear:
[6482]     
[6483]     "Slip down, Gabriel, like a good fellow and see if he's all right, and
[6484]     don't let him up if he's screwed. I'm sure he's screwed. I'm sure he
[6485]     is."
[6486]     
[6487]     Gabriel went to the stairs and listened over the banisters. He could
[6488]     hear two persons talking in the pantry. Then he recognised Freddy
[6489]     Malins' laugh. He went down the stairs noisily.
[6490]     
[6491]     "It's such a relief," said Aunt Kate to Mrs. Conroy, "that Gabriel is
[6492]     here. I always feel easier in my mind when he's here.... Julia,
[6493]     there's Miss Daly and Miss Power will take some refreshment.
[6494]     Thanks for your beautiful waltz, Miss Daly. It made lovely time."
[6495]     
[6496]     A tall wizen-faced man, with a stiff grizzled moustache and
[6497]     swarthy skin, who was passing out with his partner, said:
[6498]     
[6499]     "And may we have some refreshment, too, Miss Morkan?"
[6500]     
[6501]     "Julia," said Aunt Kate summarily, "and here's Mr. Browne and
[6502]     Miss Furlong. Take them in, Julia, with Miss Daly and Miss
[6503]     Power."
[6504]     
[6505]     "I'm the man for the ladies," said Mr. Browne, pursing his lips until
[6506]     his moustache bristled and smiling in all his wrinkles. "You know,
[6507]     Miss Morkan, the reason they are so fond of me is----"
[6508]     
[6509]     He did not finish his sentence, but, seeing that Aunt Kate was out
[6510]     of earshot, at once led the three young ladies into the back room.
[6511]     The middle of the room was occupied by two square tables placed
[6512]     end to end, and on these Aunt Julia and the caretaker were
[6513]     straightening and smoothing a large cloth. On the sideboard were
[6514]     arrayed dishes and plates, and glasses and bundles of knives and
[6515]     forks and spoons. The top of the closed square piano served also as
[6516]     a sideboard for viands and sweets. At a smaller sideboard in one
[6517]     corner two young men were standing, drinking hop-bitters.
[6518]     
[6519]     Mr. Browne led his charges thither and invited them all, in jest, to
[6520]     some ladies' punch, hot, strong and sweet. As they said they never
[6521]     took anything strong, he opened three bottles of lemonade for
[6522]     them. Then he asked one of the young men to move aside, and,
[6523]     taking hold of the decanter, filled out for himself a goodly measure
[6524]     of whisky. The young men eyed him respectfully while he took a
[6525]     trial sip.
[6526]     
[6527]     "God help me," he said, smiling, "it's the doctor's orders."
[6528]     
[6529]     His wizened face broke into a broader smile, and the three young
[6530]     ladies laughed in musical echo to his pleasantry, swaying their
[6531]     bodies to and fro, with nervous jerks of their shoulders. The
[6532]     boldest said:
[6533]     
[6534]     "O, now, Mr. Browne, I'm sure the doctor never ordered anything
[6535]     of the kind."
[6536]     
[6537]     Mr. Browne took another sip of his whisky and said, with sidling
[6538]     mimicry:
[6539]     
[6540]     "Well, you see, I'm like the famous Mrs. Cassidy, who is reported
[6541]     to have said: 'Now, Mary Grimes, if I don't take it, make me take it,
[6542]     for I feel I want it.'"
[6543]     
[6544]     His hot face had leaned forward a little too confidentially and he
[6545]     had assumed a very low Dublin accent so that the young ladies,
[6546]     with one instinct, received his speech in silence. Miss Furlong,
[6547]     who was one of Mary Jane's pupils, asked Miss Daly what was the
[6548]     name of the pretty waltz she had played; and Mr. Browne, seeing
[6549]     that he was ignored, turned promptly to the two young men who
[6550]     were more appreciative.
[6551]     
[6552]     A red-faced young woman, dressed in pansy, came into the room,
[6553]     excitedly clapping her hands and crying:
[6554]     
[6555]     "Quadrilles! Quadrilles!"
[6556]     
[6557]     Close on her heels came Aunt Kate, crying:
[6558]     
[6559]     "Two gentlemen and three ladies, Mary Jane!"
[6560]     
[6561]     "O, here's Mr. Bergin and Mr. Kerrigan," said Mary Jane. "Mr.
[6562]     Kerrigan, will you take Miss Power? Miss Furlong, may I get you a
[6563]     partner, Mr. Bergin. O, that'll just do now."
[6564]     
[6565]     "Three ladies, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate.
[6566]     
[6567]     The two young gentlemen asked the ladies if they might have the
[6568]     pleasure, and Mary Jane turned to Miss Daly.
[6569]     
[6570]     "O, Miss Daly, you're really awfully good, after playing for the last
[6571]     two dances, but really we're so short of ladies tonight."
[6572]     
[6573]     "I don't mind in the least, Miss Morkan."
[6574]     
[6575]     "But I've a nice partner for you, Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, the tenor. I'll
[6576]     get him to sing later on. All Dublin is raving about him."
[6577]     
[6578]     "Lovely voice, lovely voice!" said Aunt Kate.
[6579]     
[6580]     As the piano had twice begun the prelude to the first figure Mary
[6581]     Jane led her recruits quickly from the room. They had hardly gone
[6582]     when Aunt Julia wandered slowly into the room, looking behind
[6583]     her at something.
[6584]     
[6585]     "What is the matter, Julia?" asked Aunt Kate anxiously. "Who is
[6586]     it?"
[6587]     
[6588]     Julia, who was carrying in a column of table-napkins, turned to her
[6589]     sister and said, simply, as if the question had surprised her:
[6590]     
[6591]     "It's only Freddy, Kate, and Gabriel with him."
[6592]     
[6593]     In fact right behind her Gabriel could be seen piloting Freddy
[6594]     Malins across the landing. The latter, a young man of about forty,
[6595]     was of Gabriel's size and build, with very round shoulders. His face
[6596]     was fleshy and pallid, touched with colour only at the thick
[6597]     hanging lobes of his ears and at the wide wings of his nose. He had
[6598]     coarse features, a blunt nose, a convex and receding brow, tumid
[6599]     and protruded lips. His heavy-lidded eyes and the disorder of his
[6600]     scanty hair made him look sleepy. He was laughing heartily in a
[6601]     high key at a story which he had been telling Gabriel on the stairs
[6602]     and at the same time rubbing the knuckles of his left fist
[6603]     backwards and forwards into his left eye.
[6604]     
[6605]     "Good-evening, Freddy," said Aunt Julia.
[6606]     
[6607]     Freddy Malins bade the Misses Morkan good-evening in what
[6608]     seemed an offhand fashion by reason of the habitual catch in his
[6609]     voice and then, seeing that Mr. Browne was grinning at him from
[6610]     the sideboard, crossed the room on rather shaky legs and began to
[6611]     repeat in an undertone the story he had just told to Gabriel.
[6612]     
[6613]     "He's not so bad, is he?" said Aunt Kate to Gabriel.
[6614]     
[6615]     Gabriel's brows were dark but he raised them quickly and
[6616]     answered:
[6617]     
[6618]     "O, no, hardly noticeable."
[6619]     
[6620]     "Now, isn't he a terrible fellow!" she said. "And his poor mother
[6621]     made him take the pledge on New Year's Eve. But come on,
[6622]     Gabriel, into the drawing-room."
[6623]     
[6624]     Before leaving the room with Gabriel she signalled to Mr. Browne
[6625]     by frowning and shaking her forefinger in warning to and fro. Mr.
[6626]     Browne nodded in answer and, when she had gone, said to Freddy
[6627]     Malins:
[6628]     
[6629]     "Now, then, Teddy, I'm going to fill you out a good glass of
[6630]     lemonade just to buck you up."
[6631]     
[6632]     Freddy Malins, who was nearing the climax of his story, waved the
[6633]     offer aside impatiently but Mr. Browne, having first called Freddy
[6634]     Malins' attention to a disarray in his dress, filled out and handed
[6635]     him a full glass of lemonade. Freddy Malins' left hand accepted the
[6636]     glass mechanically, his right hand being engaged in the
[6637]     mechanical readjustment of his dress. Mr. Browne, whose face
[6638]     was once more wrinkling with mirth, poured out for himself a
[6639]     glass of whisky while Freddy Malins exploded, before he had well
[6640]     reached the climax of his story, in a kink of high-pitched
[6641]     bronchitic laughter and, setting down his untasted and overflowing
[6642]     glass, began to rub the knuckles of his left fist backwards and
[6643]     forwards into his left eye, repeating words of his last phrase as
[6644]     well as his fit of laughter would allow him.
[6645]     
[6646]     Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy
[6647]     piece, full of runs and difficult passages, to the hushed
[6648]     drawing-room. He liked music but the piece she was playing had
[6649]     no melody for him and he doubted whether it had any melody for
[6650]     the other listeners, though they had begged Mary Jane to play
[6651]     something. Four young men, who had come from the
[6652]     refreshment-room to stand in the doorway at the sound of the
[6653]     piano, had gone away quietly in couples after a few minutes. The
[6654]     only persons who seemed to follow the music were Mary Jane
[6655]     herself, her hands racing along the key-board or lifted from it at
[6656]     the pauses like those of a priestess in momentary imprecation, and
[6657]     Aunt Kate standing at her elbow to turn the page.
[6658]     
[6659]     Gabriel's eyes, irritated by the floor, which glittered with beeswax
[6660]     under the heavy chandelier, wandered to the wall above the piano.
[6661]     A picture of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet hung there and
[6662]     beside it was a picture of the two murdered princes in the Tower
[6663]     which Aunt Julia had worked in red, blue and brown wools when
[6664]     she was a girl. Probably in the school they had gone to as girls that
[6665]     kind of work had been taught for one year. His mother had worked
[6666]     for him as a birthday present a waistcoat of purple tabinet, with
[6667]     little foxes' heads upon it, lined with brown satin and having round
[6668]     mulberry buttons. It was strange that his mother had had no
[6669]     musical talent though Aunt Kate used to call her the brains carrier
[6670]     of the Morkan family. Both she and Julia had always seemed a
[6671]     little proud of their serious and matronly sister. Her photograph
[6672]     stood before the pierglass. She held an open book on her knees and
[6673]     was pointing out something in it to Constantine who, dressed in a
[6674]     man-o-war suit, lay at her feet. It was she who had chosen the
[6675]     name of her sons for she was very sensible of the dignity of family
[6676]     life. Thanks to her, Constantine was now senior curate in
[6677]     Balbrigan and, thanks to her, Gabriel himself had taken his degree
[6678]     in the Royal University. A shadow passed over his face as he
[6679]     remembered her sullen opposition to his marriage. Some slighting
[6680]     phrases she had used still rankled in his memory; she had once
[6681]     spoken of Gretta as being country cute and that was not true of
[6682]     Gretta at all. It was Gretta who had nursed her during all her last
[6683]     long illness in their house at Monkstown.
[6684]     
[6685]     He knew that Mary Jane must be near the end of her piece for she
[6686]     was playing again the opening melody with runs of scales after
[6687]     every bar and while he waited for the end the resentment died
[6688]     down in his heart. The piece ended with a trill of octaves in the
[6689]     treble and a final deep octave in the bass. Great applause greeted
[6690]     Mary Jane as, blushing and rolling up her music nervously, she
[6691]     escaped from the room. The most vigorous clapping came from
[6692]     the four young men in the doorway who had gone away to the
[6693]     refreshment-room at the beginning of the piece but had come back
[6694]     when the piano had stopped.
[6695]     
[6696]     Lancers were arranged. Gabriel found himself partnered with Miss
[6697]     Ivors. She was a frank-mannered talkative young lady, with a
[6698]     freckled face and prominent brown eyes. She did not wear a
[6699]     low-cut bodice and the large brooch which was fixed in the front
[6700]     of her collar bore on it an Irish device and motto.
[6701]     
[6702]     When they had taken their places she said abruptly:
[6703]     
[6704]     "I have a crow to pluck with you."
[6705]     
[6706]     "With me?" said Gabriel.
[6707]     
[6708]     She nodded her head gravely.
[6709]     
[6710]     "What is it?" asked Gabriel, smiling at her solemn manner.
[6711]     
[6712]     "Who is G. C.?" answered Miss Ivors, turning her eyes upon him.
[6713]     
[6714]     Gabriel coloured and was about to knit his brows, as if he did not
[6715]     understand, when she said bluntly:
[6716]     
[6717]     "O, innocent Amy! I have found out that you write for The Daily
[6718]     Express. Now, aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
[6719]     
[6720]     "Why should I be ashamed of myself?" asked Gabriel, blinking his
[6721]     eyes and trying to smile.
[6722]     
[6723]     "Well, I'm ashamed of you," said Miss Ivors frankly. "To say you'd
[6724]     write for a paper like that. I didn't think you were a West Briton."
[6725]     
[6726]     A look of perplexity appeared on Gabriel's face. It was true that he
[6727]     wrote a literary column every Wednesday in The Daily Express,
[6728]     for which he was paid fifteen shillings. But that did not make him
[6729]     a West Briton surely. The books he received for review were
[6730]     almost more welcome than the paltry cheque. He loved to feel the
[6731]     covers and turn over the pages of newly printed books. Nearly
[6732]     every day when his teaching in the college was ended he used to
[6733]     wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers, to
[6734]     Hickey's on Bachelor's Walk, to Web's or Massey's on Aston's
[6735]     Quay, or to O'Clohissey's in the bystreet. He did not know how to
[6736]     meet her charge. He wanted to say that literature was above
[6737]     politics. But they were friends of many years' standing and their
[6738]     careers had been parallel, first at the University and then as
[6739]     teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with her. He
[6740]     continued blinking his eyes and trying to smile and murmured
[6741]     lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books.
[6742]     
[6743]     When their turn to cross had come he was still perplexed and
[6744]     inattentive. Miss Ivors promptly took his hand in a warm grasp and
[6745]     said in a soft friendly tone:
[6746]     
[6747]     "Of course, I was only joking. Come, we cross now."
[6748]     
[6749]     When they were together again she spoke of the University
[6750]     question and Gabriel felt more at ease. A friend of hers had shown
[6751]     her his review of Browning's poems. That was how she had found
[6752]     out the secret: but she liked the review immensely. Then she said
[6753]     suddenly:
[6754]     
[6755]     "O, Mr. Conroy, will you come for an excursion to the Aran Isles
[6756]     this summer? We're going to stay there a whole month. It will be
[6757]     splendid out in the Atlantic. You ought to come. Mr. Clancy is
[6758]     coming, and Mr. Kilkelly and Kathleen Kearney. It would be
[6759]     splendid for Gretta too if she'd come. She's from Connacht, isn't
[6760]     she?"
[6761]     
[6762]     "Her people are," said Gabriel shortly.
[6763]     
[6764]     "But you will come, won't you?" said Miss Ivors, laying her arm
[6765]     hand eagerly on his arm.
[6766]     
[6767]     "The fact is," said Gabriel, "I have just arranged to go----"
[6768]     
[6769]     "Go where?" asked Miss Ivors.
[6770]     
[6771]     "Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with some
[6772]     fellows and so----"
[6773]     
[6774]     "But where?" asked Miss Ivors.
[6775]     
[6776]     "Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany,"
[6777]     said Gabriel awkwardly.
[6778]     
[6779]     "And why do you go to France and Belgium," said Miss Ivors,
[6780]     "instead of visiting your own land?"
[6781]     
[6782]     "Well," said Gabriel, "it's partly to keep in touch with the
[6783]     languages and partly for a change."
[6784]     
[6785]     "And haven't you your own language to keep in touch with--
[6786]     Irish?" asked Miss Ivors.
[6787]     
[6788]     "Well," said Gabriel, "if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my
[6789]     language."
[6790]     
[6791]     Their neighbours had turned to listen to the cross- examination.
[6792]     Gabriel glanced right and left nervously and tried to keep his good
[6793]     humour under the ordeal which was making a blush invade his
[6794]     forehead.
[6795]     
[6796]     "And haven't you your own land to visit," continued Miss Ivors,
[6797]     "that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own
[6798]     country?"
[6799]     
[6800]     "0, to tell you the truth," retorted Gabriel suddenly, "I'm sick of my
[6801]     own country, sick of it!"
[6802]     
[6803]     "Why?" asked Miss Ivors.
[6804]     
[6805]     Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.
[6806]     
[6807]     "Why?" repeated Miss Ivors.
[6808]     
[6809]     They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered her,
[6810]     Miss Ivors said warmly:
[6811]     
[6812]     "Of course, you've no answer."
[6813]     
[6814]     Gabriel tried to cover his agitation by taking part in the dance with
[6815]     great energy. He avoided her eyes for he had seen a sour
[6816]     expression on her face. But when they met in the long chain he
[6817]     was surprised to feel his hand firmly pressed. She looked at him
[6818]     from under her brows for a moment quizzically until he smiled.
[6819]     Then, just as the chain was about to start again, she stood on tiptoe
[6820]     and whispered into his ear:
[6821]     
[6822]     "West Briton!"
[6823]     
[6824]     When the lancers were over Gabriel went away to a remote corner
[6825]     of the room where Freddy Malins' mother was sitting. She was a
[6826]     stout feeble old woman with white hair. Her voice had a catch in it
[6827]     like her son's and she stuttered slightly. She had been told that
[6828]     Freddy had come and that he was nearly all right. Gabriel asked
[6829]     her whether she had had a good crossing. She lived with her
[6830]     married daughter in Glasgow and came to Dublin on a visit once a
[6831]     year. She answered placidly that she had had a beautiful crossing
[6832]     and that the captain had been most attentive to her. She spoke also
[6833]     of the beautiful house her daughter kept in Glasgow, and of all the
[6834]     friends they had there. While her tongue rambled on Gabriel tried
[6835]     to banish from his mind all memory of the unpleasant incident
[6836]     with Miss Ivors. Of course the girl or woman, or whatever she was,
[6837]     was an enthusiast but there was a time for all things. Perhaps he
[6838]     ought not to have answered her like that. But she had no right to
[6839]     call him a West Briton before people, even in joke. She had tried
[6840]     to make him ridiculous before people, heckling him and staring at
[6841]     him with her rabbit's eyes.
[6842]     
[6843]     He saw his wife making her way towards him through the waltzing
[6844]     couples. When she reached him she said into his ear:
[6845]     
[6846]     "Gabriel. Aunt Kate wants to know won't you carve the goose as
[6847]     usual. Miss Daly will carve the ham and I'll do the pudding."
[6848]     
[6849]     "All right," said Gabriel.
[6850]     
[6851]     "She's sending in the younger ones first as soon as this waltz is
[6852]     over so that we'll have the table to ourselves."
[6853]     
[6854]     "Were you dancing?" asked Gabriel.
[6855]     
[6856]     "Of course I was. Didn't you see me? What row had you with
[6857]     Molly Ivors?"
[6858]     
[6859]     "No row. Why? Did she say so?"
[6860]     
[6861]     "Something like that. I'm trying to get that Mr. D'Arcy to sing. He's
[6862]     full of conceit, I think."
[6863]     
[6864]     "There was no row," said Gabriel moodily, "only she wanted me to
[6865]     go for a trip to the west of Ireland and I said I wouldn't."
[6866]     
[6867]     His wife clasped her hands excitedly and gave a little jump.
[6868]     
[6869]     "O, do go, Gabriel," she cried. "I'd love to see Galway again."
[6870]     
[6871]     "You can go if you like," said Gabriel coldly.
[6872]     
[6873]     She looked at him for a moment, then turned to Mrs. Malins and
[6874]     said:
[6875]     
[6876]     "There's a nice husband for you, Mrs. Malins."
[6877]     
[6878]     While she was threading her way back across the room Mrs.
[6879]     Malins, without adverting to the interruption, went on to tell
[6880]     Gabriel what beautiful places there were in Scotland and beautiful
[6881]     scenery. Her son-in-law brought them every year to the lakes and
[6882]     they used to go fishing. Her son-in-law was a splendid fisher. One
[6883]     day he caught a beautiful big fish and the man in the hotel cooked
[6884]     it for their dinner.
[6885]     
[6886]     Gabriel hardly heard what she said. Now that supper was coming
[6887]     near he began to think again about his speech and about the
[6888]     quotation. When he saw Freddy Malins coming across the room to
[6889]     visit his mother Gabriel left the chair free for him and retired into
[6890]     the embrasure of the window. The room had already cleared and
[6891]     from the back room came the clatter of plates and knives. Those
[6892]     who still remained in the drawing room seemed tired of dancing
[6893]     and were conversing quietly in little groups. Gabriel's warm
[6894]     trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it
[6895]     must be outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone, first
[6896]     along by the river and then through the park! The snow would be
[6897]     lying on the branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the
[6898]     top of the Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it
[6899]     would be there than at the supper-table!
[6900]     
[6901]     He ran over the headings of his speech: Irish hospitality, sad
[6902]     memories, the Three Graces, Paris, the quotation from Browning.
[6903]     He repeated to himself a phrase he had written in his review: "One
[6904]     feels that one is listening to a thought- tormented music." Miss
[6905]     Ivors had praised the review. Was she sincere? Had she really any
[6906]     life of her own behind all her propagandism? There had never
[6907]     been any ill-feeling between them until that night. It unnerved him
[6908]     to think that she would be at the supper-table, looking up at him
[6909]     while he spoke with her critical quizzing eyes. Perhaps she would
[6910]     not be sorry to see him fail in his speech. An idea came into his
[6911]     mind and gave him courage. He would say, alluding to Aunt Kate
[6912]     and Aunt Julia: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the generation which is
[6913]     now on the wane among us may have had its faults but for my part
[6914]     I think it had certain qualities of hospitality, of humour, of
[6915]     humanity, which the new and very serious and hypereducated
[6916]     generation that is growing up around us seems to me to lack." Very
[6917]     good: that was one for Miss Ivors. What did he care that his aunts
[6918]     were only two ignorant old women?
[6919]     
[6920]     A murmur in the room attracted his attention. Mr. Browne was
[6921]     advancing from the door, gallantly escorting Aunt Julia, who
[6922]     leaned upon his arm, smiling and hanging her head. An irregular
[6923]     musketry of applause escorted her also as far as the piano and
[6924]     then, as Mary Jane seated herself on the stool, and Aunt Julia, no
[6925]     longer smiling, half turned so as to pitch her voice fairly into the
[6926]     room, gradually ceased. Gabriel recognised the prelude. It was that
[6927]     of an old song of Aunt Julia's--Arrayed for the Bridal. Her voice,
[6928]     strong and clear in tone, attacked with great spirit the runs which
[6929]     embellish the air and though she sang very rapidly she did not miss
[6930]     even the smallest of the grace notes. To follow the voice, without
[6931]     looking at the singer's face, was to feel and share the excitement of
[6932]     swift and secure flight. Gabriel applauded loudly with all the
[6933]     others at the close of the song and loud applause was borne in
[6934]     from the invisible supper-table. It sounded so genuine that a little
[6935]     colour struggled into Aunt Julia's face as she bent to replace in the
[6936]     music-stand the old leather-bound songbook that had her initials
[6937]     on the cover. Freddy Malins, who had listened with his head
[6938]     perched sideways to hear her better, was still applauding when
[6939]     everyone else had ceased and talking animatedly to his mother
[6940]     who nodded her head gravely and slowly in acquiescence. At last,
[6941]     when he could clap no more, he stood up suddenly and hurried
[6942]     across the room to Aunt Julia whose hand he seized and held in
[6943]     both his hands, shaking it when words failed him or the catch in
[6944]     his voice proved too much for him.
[6945]     
[6946]     "I was just telling my mother," he said, "I never heard you sing so
[6947]     well, never. No, I never heard your voice so good as it is tonight.
[6948]     Now! Would you believe that now? That's the truth. Upon my
[6949]     word and honour that's the truth. I never heard your voice sound so
[6950]     fresh and so... so clear and fresh, never."
[6951]     
[6952]     Aunt Julia smiled broadly and murmured something about
[6953]     compliments as she released her hand from his grasp. Mr. Browne
[6954]     extended his open hand towards her and said to those who were
[6955]     near him in the manner of a showman introducing a prodigy to an
[6956]     audience:
[6957]     
[6958]     "Miss Julia Morkan, my latest discovery!"
[6959]     
[6960]     He was laughing very heartily at this himself when Freddy Malins
[6961]     turned to him and said:
[6962]     
[6963]     "Well, Browne, if you're serious you might make a worse
[6964]     discovery. All I can say is I never heard her sing half so well as
[6965]     long as I am coming here. And that's the honest truth."
[6966]     
[6967]     "Neither did I," said Mr. Browne. "I think her voice has greatly
[6968]     improved."
[6969]     
[6970]     Aunt Julia shrugged her shoulders and said with meek pride:
[6971]     
[6972]     "Thirty years ago I hadn't a bad voice as voices go."
[6973]     
[6974]     "I often told Julia," said Aunt Kate emphatically, "that she was
[6975]     simply thrown away in that choir. But she never would be said by
[6976]     me."
[6977]     
[6978]     She turned as if to appeal to the good sense of the others against a
[6979]     refractory child while Aunt Julia gazed in front of her, a vague
[6980]     smile of reminiscence playing on her face.
[6981]     
[6982]     "No," continued Aunt Kate, "she wouldn't be said or led by anyone,
[6983]     slaving there in that choir night and day, night and day. Six o'clock
[6984]     on Christmas morning! And all for what?"
[6985]     
[6986]     "Well, isn't it for the honour of God, Aunt Kate?" asked Mary Jane,
[6987]     twisting round on the piano-stool and smiling.
[6988]     
[6989]     Aunt Kate turned fiercely on her niece and said:
[6990]     
[6991]     "I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I think it's not
[6992]     at all honourable for the pope to turn out the women out of the
[6993]     choirs that have slaved there all their lives and put little
[6994]     whipper-snappers of boys over their heads. I suppose it is for the
[6995]     good of the Church if the pope does it. But it's not just, Mary Jane,
[6996]     and it's not right."
[6997]     
[6998]     She had worked herself into a passion and would have continued
[6999]     in defence of her sister for it was a sore subject with her but Mary
[7000]     Jane, seeing that all the dancers had come back, intervened
[7001]     pacifically:
[7002]     
[7003]     "Now, Aunt Kate, you're giving scandal to Mr. Browne who is of
[7004]     the other persuasion."
[7005]     
[7006]     Aunt Kate turned to Mr. Browne, who was grinning at this allusion
[7007]     to his religion, and said hastily:
[7008]     
[7009]     "O, I don't question the pope's being right. I'm only a stupid old
[7010]     woman and I wouldn't presume to do such a thing. But there's such
[7011]     a thing as common everyday politeness and gratitude. And if I
[7012]     were in Julia's place I'd tell that Father Healey straight up to his
[7013]     face..."
[7014]     
[7015]     "And besides, Aunt Kate," said Mary Jane, "we really are all
[7016]     hungry and when we are hungry we are all very quarrelsome."
[7017]     
[7018]     "And when we are thirsty we are also quarrelsome," added Mr.
[7019]     Browne.
[7020]     
[7021]     "So that we had better go to supper," said Mary Jane, "and finish
[7022]     the discussion afterwards."
[7023]     
[7024]     On the landing outside the drawing-room Gabriel found his wife
[7025]     and Mary Jane trying to persuade Miss Ivors to stay for supper. But
[7026]     Miss Ivors, who had put on her hat and was buttoning her cloak,
[7027]     would not stay. She did not feel in the least hungry and she had
[7028]     already overstayed her time.
[7029]     
[7030]     "But only for ten minutes, Molly," said Mrs. Conroy. "That won't
[7031]     delay you."
[7032]     
[7033]     "To take a pick itself," said Mary Jane, "after all your dancing."
[7034]     
[7035]     "I really couldn't," said Miss Ivors.
[7036]     
[7037]     "I am afraid you didn't enjoy yourself at all," said Mary Jane
[7038]     hopelessly.
[7039]     
[7040]     "Ever so much, I assure you," said Miss Ivors, "but you really must
[7041]     let me run off now."
[7042]     
[7043]     "But how can you get home?" asked Mrs. Conroy.
[7044]     
[7045]     "O, it's only two steps up the quay."
[7046]     
[7047]     Gabriel hesitated a moment and said:
[7048]     
[7049]     "If you will allow me, Miss Ivors, I'll see you home if you are
[7050]     really obliged to go."
[7051]     
[7052]     But Miss Ivors broke away from them.
[7053]     
[7054]     "I won't hear of it," she cried. "For goodness' sake go in to your
[7055]     suppers and don't mind me. I'm quite well able to take care of
[7056]     myself."
[7057]     
[7058]     "Well, you're the comical girl, Molly," said Mrs. Conroy frankly.
[7059]     
[7060]     "Beannacht libh," cried Miss Ivors, with a laugh, as she ran down
[7061]     the staircase.
[7062]     
[7063]     Mary Jane gazed after her, a moody puzzled expression on her
[7064]     face, while Mrs. Conroy leaned over the banisters to listen for the
[7065]     hall-door. Gabriel asked himself was he the cause of her abrupt
[7066]     departure. But she did not seem to be in ill humour: she had gone
[7067]     away laughing. He stared blankly down the staircase.
[7068]     
[7069]     At the moment Aunt Kate came toddling out of the supper-room,
[7070]     almost wringing her hands in despair.
[7071]     
[7072]     "Where is Gabriel?" she cried. "Where on earth is Gabriel? There's
[7073]     everyone waiting in there, stage to let, and nobody to carve the
[7074]     goose!"
[7075]     
[7076]     "Here I am, Aunt Kate!" cried Gabriel, with sudden animation,
[7077]     "ready to carve a flock of geese, if necessary."
[7078]     
[7079]     A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end,
[7080]     on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great
[7081]     ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust
[7082]     crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a
[7083]     round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of
[7084]     side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow
[7085]     dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green
[7086]     leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches
[7087]     of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which
[7088]     lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with
[7089]     grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped
[7090]     in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall
[7091]     celery stalks. In the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a
[7092]     fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American
[7093]     apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one
[7094]     containing port and the other dark sherry. On the closed square
[7095]     piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it
[7096]     were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn
[7097]     up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black,
[7098]     with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with
[7099]     transverse green sashes.
[7100]     
[7101]     Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and, having
[7102]     looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly into the
[7103]     goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and
[7104]     liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden
[7105]     table.
[7106]     
[7107]     "Miss Furlong, what shall I send you?" he asked. "A wing or a slice
[7108]     of the breast?"
[7109]     
[7110]     "Just a small slice of the breast."
[7111]     
[7112]     "Miss Higgins, what for you?"
[7113]     
[7114]     "O, anything at all, Mr. Conroy."
[7115]     
[7116]     While Gabriel and Miss Daly exchanged plates of goose and plates
[7117]     of ham and spiced beef Lily went from guest to guest with a dish
[7118]     of hot floury potatoes wrapped in a white napkin. This was Mary
[7119]     Jane's idea and she had also suggested apple sauce for the goose
[7120]     but Aunt Kate had said that plain roast goose without any apple
[7121]     sauce had always been good enough for her and she hoped she
[7122]     might never eat worse. Mary Jane waited on her pupils and saw
[7123]     that they got the best slices and Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia opened
[7124]     and carried across from the piano bottles of stout and ale for the
[7125]     gentlemen and bottles of minerals for the ladies. There was a great
[7126]     deal of confusion and laughter and noise, the noise of orders and
[7127]     counter-orders, of knives and forks, of corks and glass-stoppers.
[7128]     Gabriel began to carve second helpings as soon as he had finished
[7129]     the first round without serving himself. Everyone protested loudly
[7130]     so that he compromised by taking a long draught of stout for he
[7131]     had found the carving hot work. Mary Jane settled down quietly to
[7132]     her supper but Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia were still toddling round
[7133]     the table, walking on each other's heels, getting in each other's way
[7134]     and giving each other unheeded orders. Mr. Browne begged of
[7135]     them to sit down and eat their suppers and so did Gabriel but they
[7136]     said there was time enough, so that, at last, Freddy Malins stood up
[7137]     and, capturing Aunt Kate, plumped her down on her chair amid
[7138]     general laughter.
[7139]     
[7140]     When everyone had been well served Gabriel said, smiling:
[7141]     
[7142]     "Now, if anyone wants a little more of what vulgar people call
[7143]     stuffing let him or her speak."
[7144]     
[7145]     A chorus of voices invited him to begin his own supper and Lily
[7146]     came forward with three potatoes which she had reserved for him.
[7147]     
[7148]     "Very well," said Gabriel amiably, as he took another preparatory
[7149]     draught, "kindly forget my existence, ladies and gentlemen, for a
[7150]     few minutes."
[7151]     
[7152]     He set to his supper and took no part in the conversation with
[7153]     which the table covered Lily's removal of the plates. The subject of
[7154]     talk was the opera company which was then at the Theatre Royal.
[7155]     Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, the tenor, a dark- complexioned young man
[7156]     with a smart moustache, praised very highly the leading contralto
[7157]     of the company but Miss Furlong thought she had a rather vulgar
[7158]     style of production. Freddy Malins said there was a Negro
[7159]     chieftain singing in the second part of the Gaiety pantomime who
[7160]     had one of the finest tenor voices he had ever heard.
[7161]     
[7162]     "Have you heard him?" he asked Mr. Bartell D'Arcy across the
[7163]     table.
[7164]     
[7165]     "No," answered Mr. Bartell D'Arcy carelessly.
[7166]     
[7167]     "Because," Freddy Malins explained, "now I'd be curious to hear
[7168]     your opinion of him. I think he has a grand voice."
[7169]     
[7170]     "It takes Teddy to find out the really good things," said Mr.
[7171]     Browne familiarly to the table.
[7172]     
[7173]     "And why couldn't he have a voice too?" asked Freddy Malins
[7174]     sharply. "Is it because he's only a black?"
[7175]     
[7176]     Nobody answered this question and Mary Jane led the table back
[7177]     to the legitimate opera. One of her pupils had given her a pass for
[7178]     Mignon. Of course it was very fine, she said, but it made her think
[7179]     of poor Georgina Burns. Mr. Browne could go back farther still, to
[7180]     the old Italian companies that used to come to Dublin--Tietjens,
[7181]     Ilma de Murzka, Campanini, the great Trebelli, Giuglini, Ravelli,
[7182]     Aramburo. Those were the days, he said, when there was
[7183]     something like singing to be heard in Dublin. He told too of how
[7184]     the top gallery of the old Royal used to be packed night after night,
[7185]     of how one night an Italian tenor had sung five encores to Let me
[7186]     like a Soldier fall, introducing a high C every time, and of how the
[7187]     gallery boys would sometimes in their enthusiasm unyoke the
[7188]     horses from the carriage of some great prima donna and pull her
[7189]     themselves through the streets to her hotel. Why did they never
[7190]     play the grand old operas now, he asked, Dinorah, Lucrezia
[7191]     Borgia? Because they could not get the voices to sing them: that
[7192]     was why.
[7193]     
[7194]     "Oh, well," said Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, "I presume there are as good
[7195]     singers today as there were then."
[7196]     
[7197]     "Where are they?" asked Mr. Browne defiantly.
[7198]     
[7199]     "In London, Paris, Milan," said Mr. Bartell D'Arcy warmly. "I
[7200]     suppose Caruso, for example, is quite as good, if not better than
[7201]     any of the men you have mentioned."
[7202]     
[7203]     "Maybe so," said Mr. Browne. "But I may tell you I doubt it
[7204]     strongly."
[7205]     
[7206]     "O, I'd give anything to hear Caruso sing," said Mary Jane.
[7207]     
[7208]     "For me," said Aunt Kate, who had been picking a bone, "there
[7209]     was only one tenor. To please me, I mean. But I suppose none of
[7210]     you ever heard of him."
[7211]     
[7212]     "Who was he, Miss Morkan?" asked Mr. Bartell D'Arcy politely.
[7213]     
[7214]     "His name," said Aunt Kate, "was Parkinson. I heard him when he
[7215]     was in his prime and I think he had then the purest tenor voice that
[7216]     was ever put into a man's throat."
[7217]     
[7218]     "Strange," said Mr. Bartell D'Arcy. "I never even heard of him."
[7219]     
[7220]     "Yes, yes, Miss Morkan is right," said Mr. Browne. "I remember
[7221]     hearing of old Parkinson but he's too far back for me."
[7222]     
[7223]     "A beautiful, pure, sweet, mellow English tenor," said Aunt Kate
[7224]     with enthusiasm.
[7225]     
[7226]     Gabriel having finished, the huge pudding was transferred to the
[7227]     table. The clatter of forks and spoons began again. Gabriel's wife
[7228]     served out spoonfuls of the pudding and passed the plates down
[7229]     the table. Midway down they were held up by Mary Jane, who
[7230]     replenished them with raspberry or orange jelly or with
[7231]     blancmange and jam. The pudding was of Aunt Julia's making and
[7232]     she received praises for it from all quarters She herself said that it
[7233]     was not quite brown enough.
[7234]     
[7235]     "Well, I hope, Miss Morkan," said Mr. Browne, "that I'm brown
[7236]     enough for you because, you know, I'm all brown."
[7237]     
[7238]     All the gentlemen, except Gabriel, ate some of the pudding out of
[7239]     compliment to Aunt Julia. As Gabriel never ate sweets the celery
[7240]     had been left for him. Freddy Malins also took a stalk of celery and
[7241]     ate it with his pudding. He had been told that celery was a capital
[7242]     thing for the blood and he was just then under doctor's care. Mrs.
[7243]     Malins, who had been silent all through the supper, said that her
[7244]     son was going down to Mount Melleray in a week or so. The table
[7245]     then spoke of Mount Melleray, how bracing the air was down
[7246]     there, how hospitable the monks were and how they never asked
[7247]     for a penny-piece from their guests.
[7248]     
[7249]     "And do you mean to say," asked Mr. Browne incredulously, "that
[7250]     a chap can go down there and put up there as if it were a hotel and
[7251]     live on the fat of the land and then come away without paying
[7252]     anything?"
[7253]     
[7254]     "O, most people give some donation to the monastery when they
[7255]     leave." said Mary Jane.
[7256]     
[7257]     "I wish we had an institution like that in our Church," said Mr.
[7258]     Browne candidly.
[7259]     
[7260]     He was astonished to hear that the monks never spoke, got up at
[7261]     two in the morning and slept in their coffins. He asked what they
[7262]     did it for.
[7263]     
[7264]     "That's the rule of the order," said Aunt Kate firmly.
[7265]     
[7266]     "Yes, but why?" asked Mr. Browne.
[7267]     
[7268]     Aunt Kate repeated that it was the rule, that was all. Mr. Browne
[7269]     still seemed not to understand. Freddy Malins explained to him, as
[7270]     best he could, that the monks were trying to make up for the sins
[7271]     committed by all the sinners in the outside world. The explanation
[7272]     was not very clear for Mr. Browne grinned and said:
[7273]     
[7274]     "I like that idea very much but wouldn't a comfortable spring bed
[7275]     do them as well as a coffin?"
[7276]     
[7277]     "The coffin," said Mary Jane, "is to remind them of their last end."
[7278]     
[7279]     As the subject had grown lugubrious it was buried in a silence of
[7280]     the table during which Mrs. Malins could be heard saying to her
[7281]     neighbour in an indistinct undertone:
[7282]     
[7283]     "They are very good men, the monks, very pious men."
[7284]     
[7285]     The raisins and almonds and figs and apples and oranges and
[7286]     chocolates and sweets were now passed about the table and Aunt
[7287]     Julia invited all the guests to have either port or sherry. At first Mr.
[7288]     Bartell D'Arcy refused to take either but one of his neighbours
[7289]     nudged him and whispered something to him upon which he
[7290]     allowed his glass to be filled. Gradually as the last glasses were
[7291]     being filled the conversation ceased. A pause followed, broken
[7292]     only by the noise of the wine and by unsettlings of chairs. The
[7293]     Misses Morkan, all three, looked down at the tablecloth. Someone
[7294]     coughed once or twice and then a few gentlemen patted the table
[7295]     gently as a signal for silence. The silence came and Gabriel pushed
[7296]     back his chair.
[7297]     
[7298]     The patting at once grew louder in encouragement and then ceased
[7299]     altogether. Gabriel leaned his ten trembling fingers on the
[7300]     tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company. Meeting a row of
[7301]     upturned faces he raised his eyes to the chandelier. The piano was
[7302]     playing a waltz tune and he could hear the skirts sweeping against
[7303]     the drawing-room door. People, perhaps, were standing in the
[7304]     snow on the quay outside, gazing up at the lighted windows and
[7305]     listening to the waltz music. The air was pure there. In the distance
[7306]     lay the park where the trees were weighted with snow. The
[7307]     Wellington Monument wore a gleaming cap of snow that flashed
[7308]     westward over the white field of Fifteen Acres.
[7309]     
[7310]     He began:
[7311]     
[7312]     "Ladies and Gentlemen,
[7313]     
[7314]     "It has fallen to my lot this evening, as in years past, to perform a
[7315]     very pleasing task but a task for which I am afraid my poor powers
[7316]     as a speaker are all too inadequate."
[7317]     
[7318]     "No, no!" said Mr. Browne.
[7319]     
[7320]     "But, however that may be, I can only ask you tonight to take the
[7321]     will for the deed and to lend me your attention for a few moments
[7322]     while I endeavour to express to you in words what my feelings are
[7323]     on this occasion.
[7324]     
[7325]     "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not the first time that we have
[7326]     gathered together under this hospitable roof, around this hospitable
[7327]     board. It is not the first time that we have been the recipients--or
[7328]     perhaps, I had better say, the victims--of the hospitality of certain
[7329]     good ladies."
[7330]     
[7331]     He made a circle in the air with his arm and paused. Everyone
[7332]     laughed or smiled at Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia and Mary Jane who
[7333]     all turned crimson with pleasure. Gabriel went on more boldly:
[7334]     
[7335]     "I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our country has
[7336]     no tradition which does it so much honour and which it should
[7337]     guard so jealously as that of its hospitality. It is a tradition that is
[7338]     unique as far as my experience goes (and I have visited not a few
[7339]     places abroad) among the modern nations. Some would say,
[7340]     perhaps, that with us it is rather a failing than anything to be
[7341]     boasted of. But granted even that, it is, to my mind, a princely
[7342]     failing, and one that I trust will long be cultivated among us. Of
[7343]     one thing, at least, I am sure. As long as this one roof shelters the
[7344]     good ladies aforesaid--and I wish from my heart it may do so for
[7345]     many and many a long year to come--the tradition of genuine
[7346]     warm-hearted courteous Irish hospitality, which our forefathers
[7347]     have handed down to us and which we in turn must hand down to
[7348]     our descendants, is still alive among us."
[7349]     
[7350]     A hearty murmur of assent ran round the table. It shot through
[7351]     Gabriel's mind that Miss Ivors was not there and that she had gone
[7352]     away discourteously: and he said with confidence in himself:
[7353]     
[7354]     "Ladies and Gentlemen,
[7355]     
[7356]     "A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation
[7357]     actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and
[7358]     enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is
[7359]     misdirected, is, I believe, in the main sincere. But we are living in
[7360]     a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age:
[7361]     and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or
[7362]     hypereducated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of
[7363]     hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day.
[7364]     Listening tonight to the names of all those great singers of the past
[7365]     it seemed to me, I must confess, that we were living in a less
[7366]     spacious age. Those days might, without exaggeration, be called
[7367]     spacious days: and if they are gone beyond recall let us hope, at
[7368]     least, that in gatherings such as this we shall still speak of them
[7369]     with pride and affection, still cherish in our hearts the memory of
[7370]     those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not
[7371]     willingly let die."
[7372]     
[7373]     "Hear, hear!" said Mr. Browne loudly.
[7374]     
[7375]     "But yet," continued Gabriel, his voice falling into a softer
[7376]     inflection, "there are always in gatherings such as this sadder
[7377]     thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of
[7378]     youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here tonight. Our
[7379]     path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and
[7380]     were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to
[7381]     go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us
[7382]     living duties and living affections which claim, and rightly claim,
[7383]     our strenuous endeavours.
[7384]     
[7385]     "Therefore, I will not linger on the past. I will not let any gloomy
[7386]     moralising intrude upon us here tonight. Here we are gathered
[7387]     together for a brief moment from the bustle and rush of our
[7388]     everyday routine. We are met here as friends, in the spirit of
[7389]     good-fellowship, as colleagues, also to a certain extent, in the true
[7390]     spirit of camaraderie, and as the guests of--what shall I call them?
[7391]     --the Three Graces of the Dublin musical world."
[7392]     
[7393]     The table burst into applause and laughter at this allusion. Aunt
[7394]     Julia vainly asked each of her neighbours in turn to tell her what
[7395]     Gabriel had said.
[7396]     
[7397]     "He says we are the Three Graces, Aunt Julia," said Mary Jane.
[7398]     
[7399]     Aunt Julia did not understand but she looked up, smiling, at
[7400]     Gabriel, who continued in the same vein:
[7401]     
[7402]     "Ladies and Gentlemen,
[7403]     
[7404]     "I will not attempt to play tonight the part that Paris played on
[7405]     another occasion. I will not attempt to choose between them. The
[7406]     task would be an invidious one and one beyond my poor powers.
[7407]     For when I view them in turn, whether it be our chief hostess
[7408]     herself, whose good heart, whose too good heart, has become a
[7409]     byword with all who know her, or her sister, who seems to be
[7410]     gifted with perennial youth and whose singing must have been a
[7411]     surprise and a revelation to us all tonight, or, last but not least,
[7412]     when I consider our youngest hostess, talented, cheerful,
[7413]     hard-working and the best of nieces, I confess, Ladies and
[7414]     Gentlemen, that I do not know to which of them I should award the
[7415]     prize."
[7416]     
[7417]     Gabriel glanced down at his aunts and, seeing the large smile on
[7418]     Aunt Julia's face and the tears which had risen to Aunt Kate's eyes,
[7419]     hastened to his close. He raised his glass of port gallantly, while
[7420]     every member of the company fingered a glass expectantly, and
[7421]     said loudly:
[7422]     
[7423]     "Let us toast them all three together. Let us drink to their health,
[7424]     wealth, long life, happiness and prosperity and may they long
[7425]     continue to hold the proud and self-won position which they hold
[7426]     in their profession and the position of honour and affection which
[7427]     they hold in our hearts."
[7428]     
[7429]     All the guests stood up, glass in hand, and turning towards the
[7430]     three seated ladies, sang in unison, with Mr. Browne as leader:
[7431]     
[7432]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7433]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7434]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7435]     Which nobody can deny.
[7436]     
[7437]     Aunt Kate was making frank use of her handkerchief and even
[7438]     Aunt Julia seemed moved. Freddy Malins beat time with his
[7439]     pudding-fork and the singers turned towards one another, as if in
[7440]     melodious conference, while they sang with emphasis:
[7441]     
[7442]     Unless he tells a lie,
[7443]     Unless he tells a lie,
[7444]     
[7445]     Then, turning once more towards their hostesses, they sang:
[7446]     
[7447]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7448]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7449]     For they are jolly gay fellows,
[7450]     Which nobody can deny.
[7451]     
[7452]     The acclamation which followed was taken up beyond the door of
[7453]     the supper-room by many of the other guests and renewed time
[7454]     after time, Freddy Malins acting as officer with his fork on high.
[7455]     
[7456]     
[7457]     
[7458]     
[7459]     
[7460]     
[7461]     The piercing morning air came into the hall where they were
[7462]     standing so that Aunt Kate said:
[7463]     
[7464]     "Close the door, somebody. Mrs. Malins will get her death of
[7465]     cold."
[7466]     
[7467]     "Browne is out there, Aunt Kate," said Mary Jane.
[7468]     
[7469]     "Browne is everywhere," said Aunt Kate, lowering her voice.
[7470]     
[7471]     Mary Jane laughed at her tone.
[7472]     
[7473]     "Really," she said archly, "he is very attentive."
[7474]     
[7475]     "He has been laid on here like the gas," said Aunt Kate in the same
[7476]     tone, "all during the Christmas."
[7477]     
[7478]     She laughed herself this time good-humouredly and then added
[7479]     quickly:
[7480]     
[7481]     "But tell him to come in, Mary Jane, and close the door. I hope to
[7482]     goodness he didn't hear me."
[7483]     
[7484]     At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in
[7485]     from the doorstep, laughing as if his heart would break. He was
[7486]     dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and
[7487]     collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap. He pointed down the
[7488]     snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged
[7489]     whistling was borne in.
[7490]     
[7491]     "Teddy will have all the cabs in Dublin out," he said.
[7492]     
[7493]     Gabriel advanced from the little pantry behind the office,
[7494]     struggling into his overcoat and, looking round the hall, said:
[7495]     
[7496]     "Gretta not down yet?"
[7497]     
[7498]     "She's getting on her things, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate.
[7499]     
[7500]     "Who's playing up there?" asked Gabriel.
[7501]     
[7502]     "Nobody. They're all gone."
[7503]     
[7504]     "O no, Aunt Kate," said Mary Jane. "Bartell D'Arcy and Miss
[7505]     O'Callaghan aren't gone yet."
[7506]     
[7507]     "Someone is fooling at the piano anyhow," said Gabriel.
[7508]     
[7509]     Mary Jane glanced at Gabriel and Mr. Browne and said with a
[7510]     shiver:
[7511]     
[7512]     "It makes me feel cold to look at you two gentlemen muffled up
[7513]     like that. I wouldn't like to face your journey home at this hour."
[7514]     
[7515]     "I'd like nothing better this minute," said Mr. Browne stoutly, "than
[7516]     a rattling fine walk in the country or a fast drive with a good
[7517]     spanking goer between the shafts."
[7518]     
[7519]     "We used to have a very good horse and trap at home," said Aunt
[7520]     Julia sadly.
[7521]     
[7522]     "The never-to-be-forgotten Johnny," said Mary Jane, laughing.
[7523]     
[7524]     Aunt Kate and Gabriel laughed too.
[7525]     
[7526]     "Why, what was wonderful about Johnny?" asked Mr. Browne.
[7527]     
[7528]     "The late lamented Patrick Morkan, our grandfather, that is,"
[7529]     explained Gabriel, "commonly known in his later years as the old
[7530]     gentleman, was a glue-boiler."
[7531]     
[7532]     "O, now, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate, laughing, "he had a starch
[7533]     mill."
[7534]     
[7535]     "Well, glue or starch," said Gabriel, "the old gentleman had a horse
[7536]     by the name of Johnny. And Johnny used to work in the old
[7537]     gentleman's mill, walking round and round in order to drive the
[7538]     mill. That was all very well; but now comes the tragic part about
[7539]     Johnny. One fine day the old gentleman thought he'd like to drive
[7540]     out with the quality to a military review in the park."
[7541]     
[7542]     "The Lord have mercy on his soul," said Aunt Kate
[7543]     compassionately.
[7544]     
[7545]     "Amen," said Gabriel. "So the old gentleman, as I said, harnessed
[7546]     Johnny and put on his very best tall hat and his very best stock
[7547]     collar and drove out in grand style from his ancestral mansion
[7548]     somewhere near Back Lane, I think."
[7549]     
[7550]     Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Malins, at Gabriel's manner and Aunt
[7551]     Kate said:
[7552]     
[7553]     "O, now, Gabriel, he didn't live in Back Lane, really. Only the mill
[7554]     was there."
[7555]     
[7556]     "Out from the mansion of his forefathers," continued Gabriel, "he
[7557]     drove with Johnny. And everything went on beautifully until
[7558]     Johnny came in sight of King Billy's statue: and whether he fell in
[7559]     love with the horse King Billy sits on or whether he thought he
[7560]     was back again in the mill, anyhow he began to walk round the
[7561]     statue."
[7562]     
[7563]     Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid the
[7564]     laughter of the others.
[7565]     
[7566]     "Round and round he went," said Gabriel, "and the old gentleman,
[7567]     who was a very pompous old gentleman, was highly indignant. 'Go
[7568]     on, sir! What do you mean, sir? Johnny! Johnny! Most
[7569]     extraordinary conduct! Can't understand the horse!"
[7570]     
[7571]     The peal of laughter which followed Gabriel's imitation of the
[7572]     incident was interrupted by a resounding knock at the hall door.
[7573]     Mary Jane ran to open it and let in Freddy Malins. Freddy Malins,
[7574]     with his hat well back on his head and his shoulders humped with
[7575]     cold, was puffing and steaming after his exertions.
[7576]     
[7577]     "I could only get one cab," he said.
[7578]     
[7579]     "O, we'll find another along the quay," said Gabriel.
[7580]     
[7581]     "Yes," said Aunt Kate. "Better not keep Mrs. Malins standing in
[7582]     the draught."
[7583]     
[7584]     Mrs. Malins was helped down the front steps by her son and Mr.
[7585]     Browne and, after many manoeuvres, hoisted into the cab. Freddy
[7586]     Malins clambered in after her and spent a long time settling her on
[7587]     the seat, Mr. Browne helping him with advice. At last she was
[7588]     settled comfortably and Freddy Malins invited Mr. Browne into the
[7589]     cab. There was a good deal of confused talk, and then Mr. Browne
[7590]     got into the cab. The cabman settled his rug over his knees, and
[7591]     bent down for the address. The confusion grew greater and the
[7592]     cabman was directed differently by Freddy Malins and Mr.
[7593]     Browne, each of whom had his head out through a window of the
[7594]     cab. The difficulty was to know where to drop Mr. Browne along
[7595]     the route, and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane helped the
[7596]     discussion from the doorstep with cross-directions and
[7597]     contradictions and abundance of laughter. As for Freddy Malins he
[7598]     was speechless with laughter. He popped his head in and out of the
[7599]     window every moment to the great danger of his hat, and told his
[7600]     mother how the discussion was progressing, till at last Mr. Browne
[7601]     shouted to the bewildered cabman above the din of everybody's
[7602]     laughter:
[7603]     
[7604]     "Do you know Trinity College?"
[7605]     
[7606]     "Yes, sir," said the cabman.
[7607]     
[7608]     "Well, drive bang up against Trinity College gates," said Mr.
[7609]     Browne, "and then we'll tell you where to go. You understand
[7610]     now?"
[7611]     
[7612]     "Yes, sir," said the cabman.
[7613]     
[7614]     "Make like a bird for Trinity College."
[7615]     
[7616]     "Right, sir," said the cabman.
[7617]     
[7618]     The horse was whipped up and the cab rattled off along the quay
[7619]     amid a chorus of laughter and adieus.
[7620]     
[7621]     Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a dark
[7622]     part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing
[7623]     near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not see
[7624]     her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of
[7625]     her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white. It was
[7626]     his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something.
[7627]     Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen
[7628]     also. But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute
[7629]     on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano and a few
[7630]     notes of a man's voice singing.
[7631]     
[7632]     He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that
[7633]     the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace
[7634]     and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something.
[7635]     He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the
[7636]     shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a
[7637]     painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would
[7638]     show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark
[7639]     panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he
[7640]     would call the picture if he were a painter.
[7641]     
[7642]     The hall-door was closed; and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary
[7643]     Jane came down the hall, still laughing.
[7644]     
[7645]     "Well, isn't Freddy terrible?" said Mary Jane. "He's really terrible."
[7646]     
[7647]     Gabriel said nothing but pointed up the stairs towards where his
[7648]     wife was standing. Now that the hall-door was closed the voice
[7649]     and the piano could be heard more clearly. Gabriel held up his
[7650]     hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish
[7651]     tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of
[7652]     his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and by the singer's
[7653]     hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words
[7654]     expressing grief:
[7655]     
[7656]     O, the rain falls on my heavy locks
[7657]     And the dew wets my skin,
[7658]     My babe lies cold...
[7659]     
[7660]     "O," exclaimed Mary Jane. "It's Bartell D'Arcy singing and he
[7661]     wouldn't sing all the night. O, I'll get him to sing a song before he
[7662]     goes."
[7663]     
[7664]     "O, do, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate.
[7665]     
[7666]     Mary Jane brushed past the others and ran to the staircase, but
[7667]     before she reached it the singing stopped and the piano was closed
[7668]     abruptly.
[7669]     
[7670]     "O, what a pity!" she cried. "Is he coming down, Gretta?"
[7671]     
[7672]     Gabriel heard his wife answer yes and saw her come down towards
[7673]     them. A few steps behind her were Mr. Bartell D'Arcy and Miss
[7674]     O'Callaghan.
[7675]     
[7676]     "O, Mr. D'Arcy," cried Mary Jane, "it's downright mean of you to
[7677]     break off like that when we were all in raptures listening to you."
[7678]     
[7679]     "I have been at him all the evening," said Miss O'Callaghan, "and
[7680]     Mrs. Conroy, too, and he told us he had a dreadful cold and
[7681]     couldn't sing."
[7682]     
[7683]     "O, Mr. D'Arcy," said Aunt Kate, "now that was a great fib to tell."
[7684]     
[7685]     "Can't you see that I'm as hoarse as a crow?" said Mr. D'Arcy
[7686]     roughly.
[7687]     
[7688]     He went into the pantry hastily and put on his overcoat. The others,
[7689]     taken aback by his rude speech, could find nothing to say. Aunt
[7690]     Kate wrinkled her brows and made signs to the others to drop the
[7691]     subject. Mr. D'Arcy stood swathing his neck carefully and
[7692]     frowning.
[7693]     
[7694]     "It's the weather," said Aunt Julia, after a pause.
[7695]     
[7696]     "Yes, everybody has colds," said Aunt Kate readily, "everybody."
[7697]     
[7698]     "They say," said Mary Jane, "we haven't had snow like it for thirty
[7699]     years; and I read this morning in the newspapers that the snow is
[7700]     general all over Ireland."
[7701]     
[7702]     "I love the look of snow," said Aunt Julia sadly.
[7703]     
[7704]     "So do I," said Miss O'Callaghan. "I think Christmas is never really
[7705]     Christmas unless we have the snow on the ground."
[7706]     
[7707]     "But poor Mr. D'Arcy doesn't like the snow," said Aunt Kate,
[7708]     smiling.
[7709]     
[7710]     Mr. D'Arcy came from the pantry, fully swathed and buttoned, and
[7711]     in a repentant tone told them the history of his cold. Everyone gave
[7712]     him advice and said it was a great pity and urged him to be very
[7713]     careful of his throat in the night air. Gabriel watched his wife, who
[7714]     did not join in the conversation. She was standing right under the
[7715]     dusty fanlight and the flame of the gas lit up the rich bronze of her
[7716]     hair, which he had seen her drying at the fire a few days before.
[7717]     She was in the same attitude and seemed unaware of the talk about
[7718]     her. At last she turned towards them and Gabriel saw that there was
[7719]     colour on her cheeks and that her eyes were shining. A sudden tide
[7720]     of joy went leaping out of his heart.
[7721]     
[7722]     "Mr. D'Arcy," she said, "what is the name of that song you were
[7723]     singing?"
[7724]     
[7725]     "It's called The Lass of Aughrim," said Mr. D'Arcy, "but I couldn't
[7726]     remember it properly. Why? Do you know it?"
[7727]     
[7728]     "The Lass of Aughrim," she repeated. "I couldn't think of the
[7729]     name."
[7730]     
[7731]     "It's a very nice air," said Mary Jane. "I'm sorry you were not in
[7732]     voice tonight."
[7733]     
[7734]     "Now, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate, "don't annoy Mr. D'Arcy. I
[7735]     won't have him annoyed."
[7736]     
[7737]     Seeing that all were ready to start she shepherded them to the door,
[7738]     where good-night was said:
[7739]     
[7740]     "Well, good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks for the pleasant
[7741]     evening."
[7742]     
[7743]     "Good-night, Gabriel. Good-night, Gretta!"
[7744]     
[7745]     "Good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks ever so much. Goodnight,
[7746]     Aunt Julia."
[7747]     
[7748]     "O, good-night, Gretta, I didn't see you."
[7749]     
[7750]     "Good-night, Mr. D'Arcy. Good-night, Miss O'Callaghan."
[7751]     
[7752]     "Good-night, Miss Morkan."
[7753]     
[7754]     "Good-night, again."
[7755]     
[7756]     "Good-night, all. Safe home."
[7757]     
[7758]     "Good-night. Good night."
[7759]     
[7760]     The morning was still dark. A dull, yellow light brooded over the
[7761]     houses and the river; and the sky seemed to be descending. It was
[7762]     slushy underfoot; and only streaks and patches of snow lay on the
[7763]     roofs, on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings. The
[7764]     lamps were still burning redly in the murky air and, across the
[7765]     river, the palace of the Four Courts stood out menacingly against
[7766]     the heavy sky.
[7767]     
[7768]     She was walking on before him with Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, her shoes
[7769]     in a brown parcel tucked under one arm and her hands holding her
[7770]     skirt up from the slush. She had no longer any grace of attitude,
[7771]     but Gabriel's eyes were still bright with happiness. The blood went
[7772]     bounding along his veins; and the thoughts went rioting through
[7773]     his brain, proud, joyful, tender, valorous.
[7774]     
[7775]     She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he
[7776]     longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and
[7777]     say something foolish and affectionate into her ear. She seemed to
[7778]     him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and
[7779]     then to be alone with her. Moments of their secret life together
[7780]     burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope envelope was lying
[7781]     beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand.
[7782]     Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain
[7783]     was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness.
[7784]     They were standing on the crowded platform and he was placing a
[7785]     ticket inside the warm palm of her glove. He was standing with her
[7786]     in the cold, looking in through a grated window at a man making
[7787]     bottles in a roaring furnace. It was very cold. Her face, fragrant in
[7788]     the cold air, was quite close to his; and suddenly he called out to
[7789]     the man at the furnace:
[7790]     
[7791]     "Is the fire hot, sir?"
[7792]     
[7793]     But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace. It was
[7794]     just as well. He might have answered rudely.
[7795]     
[7796]     A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went
[7797]     coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fire of
[7798]     stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would
[7799]     ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to
[7800]     recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their
[7801]     dull existence together and remember only their moments of
[7802]     ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers.
[7803]     Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched
[7804]     all their souls' tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her
[7805]     then he had said: "Why is it that words like these seem to me so
[7806]     dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be
[7807]     your name?"
[7808]     
[7809]     Like distant music these words that he had written years before
[7810]     were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with
[7811]     her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the
[7812]     room in the hotel, then they would be alone together. He would
[7813]     call her softly:
[7814]     
[7815]     "Gretta!"
[7816]     
[7817]     Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing.
[7818]     Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and
[7819]     look at him....
[7820]     
[7821]     At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab. He was glad of
[7822]     its rattling noise as it saved him from conversation. She was
[7823]     looking out of the window and seemed tired. The others spoke
[7824]     only a few words, pointing out some building or street. The horse
[7825]     galloped along wearily under the murky morning sky, dragging his
[7826]     old rattling box after his heels, and Gabriel was again in a cab with
[7827]     her, galloping to catch the boat, galloping to their honeymoon.
[7828]     
[7829]     As the cab drove across O'Connell Bridge Miss O'Callaghan said:
[7830]     
[7831]     "They say you never cross O'Connell Bridge without seeing a
[7832]     white horse."
[7833]     
[7834]     "I see a white man this time," said Gabriel.
[7835]     
[7836]     "Where?" asked Mr. Bartell D'Arcy.
[7837]     
[7838]     Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then
[7839]     he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.
[7840]     
[7841]     "Good-night, Dan," he said gaily.
[7842]     
[7843]     When the cab drew up before the hotel, Gabriel jumped out and, in
[7844]     spite of Mr. Bartell D'Arcy's protest, paid the driver. He gave the
[7845]     man a shilling over his fare. The man saluted and said:
[7846]     
[7847]     "A prosperous New Year to you, sir."
[7848]     
[7849]     "The same to you," said Gabriel cordially.
[7850]     
[7851]     She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and
[7852]     while standing at the curbstone, bidding the others good- night.
[7853]     She leaned lightly on his arm, as lightly as when she had danced
[7854]     with him a few hours before. He had felt proud and happy then,
[7855]     happy that she was his, proud of her grace and wifely carriage. But
[7856]     now, after the kindling again of so many memories, the first touch
[7857]     of her body, musical and strange and perfumed, sent through him a
[7858]     keen pang of lust. Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm
[7859]     closely to his side; and, as they stood at the hotel door, he felt that
[7860]     they had escaped from their lives and duties, escaped from home
[7861]     and friends and run away together with wild and radiant hearts to a
[7862]     new adventure.
[7863]     
[7864]     An old man was dozing in a great hooded chair in the hall. He lit a
[7865]     candle in the office and went before them to the stairs. They
[7866]     followed him in silence, their feet falling in soft thuds on the
[7867]     thickly carpeted stairs. She mounted the stairs behind the porter,
[7868]     her head bowed in the ascent, her frail shoulders curved as with a
[7869]     burden, her skirt girt tightly about her. He could have flung his
[7870]     arms about her hips and held her still, for his arms were trembling
[7871]     with desire to seize her and only the stress of his nails against the
[7872]     palms of his hands held the wild impulse of his body in check. The
[7873]     porter halted on the stairs to settle his guttering candle. They
[7874]     halted, too, on the steps below him. In the silence Gabriel could
[7875]     hear the falling of the molten wax into the tray and the thumping
[7876]     of his own heart against his ribs.
[7877]     
[7878]     The porter led them along a corridor and opened a door. Then he
[7879]     set his unstable candle down on a toilet-table and asked at what
[7880]     hour they were to be called in the morning.
[7881]     
[7882]     "Eight," said Gabriel.
[7883]     
[7884]     The porter pointed to the tap of the electric-light and began a
[7885]     muttered apology, but Gabriel cut him short.
[7886]     
[7887]     "We don't want any light. We have light enough from the street.
[7888]     And I say," he added, pointing to the candle, "you might remove
[7889]     that handsome article, like a good man."
[7890]     
[7891]     The porter took up his candle again, but slowly, for he was
[7892]     surprised by such a novel idea. Then he mumbled good-night and
[7893]     went out. Gabriel shot the lock to.
[7894]     
[7895]     A ghastly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from one
[7896]     window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a couch
[7897]     and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into
[7898]     the street in order that his emotion might calm a little. Then he
[7899]     turned and leaned against a chest of drawers with his back to the
[7900]     light. She had taken off her hat and cloak and was standing before
[7901]     a large swinging mirror, unhooking her waist. Gabriel paused for a
[7902]     few moments, watching her, and then said:
[7903]     
[7904]     "Gretta!"
[7905]     
[7906]     She turned away from the mirror slowly and walked along the
[7907]     shaft of light towards him. Her face looked so serious and weary
[7908]     that the words would not pass Gabriel's lips. No, it was not the
[7909]     moment yet.
[7910]     
[7911]     "You looked tired," he said.
[7912]     
[7913]     "I am a little," she answered.
[7914]     
[7915]     "You don't feel ill or weak?"
[7916]     
[7917]     "No, tired: that's all."
[7918]     
[7919]     She went on to the window and stood there, looking out. Gabriel
[7920]     waited again and then, fearing that diffidence was about to
[7921]     conquer him, he said abruptly:
[7922]     
[7923]     "By the way, Gretta!"
[7924]     
[7925]     "What is it?"
[7926]     
[7927]     "You know that poor fellow Malins?" he said quickly.
[7928]     
[7929]     "Yes. What about him?"
[7930]     
[7931]     "Well, poor fellow, he's a decent sort of chap, after all," continued
[7932]     Gabriel in a false voice. "He gave me back that sovereign I lent
[7933]     him, and I didn't expect it, really. It's a pity he wouldn't keep away
[7934]     from that Browne, because he's not a bad fellow, really."
[7935]     
[7936]     He was trembling now with annoyance. Why did she seem so
[7937]     abstracted? He did not know how he could begin. Was she
[7938]     annoyed, too, about something? If she would only turn to him or
[7939]     come to him of her own accord! To take her as she was would be
[7940]     brutal. No, he must see some ardour in her eyes first. He longed to
[7941]     be master of her strange mood.
[7942]     
[7943]     "When did you lend him the pound?" she asked, after a pause.
[7944]     
[7945]     Gabriel strove to restrain himself from breaking out into brutal
[7946]     language about the sottish Malins and his pound. He longed to cry
[7947]     to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster
[7948]     her. But he said:
[7949]     
[7950]     "O, at Christmas, when he opened that little Christmas-card shop
[7951]     in Henry Street."
[7952]     
[7953]     He was in such a fever of rage and desire that he did not hear her
[7954]     come from the window. She stood before him for an instant,
[7955]     looking at him strangely. Then, suddenly raising herself on tiptoe
[7956]     and resting her hands lightly on his shoulders, she kissed him.
[7957]     
[7958]     "You are a very generous person, Gabriel," she said.
[7959]     
[7960]     Gabriel, trembling with delight at her sudden kiss and at the
[7961]     quaintness of her phrase, put his hands on her hair and began
[7962]     smoothing it back, scarcely touching it with his fingers. The
[7963]     washing had made it fine and brilliant. His heart was brimming
[7964]     over with happiness. Just when he was wishing for it she had come
[7965]     to him of her own accord. Perhaps her thoughts had been running
[7966]     with his. Perhaps she had felt the impetuous desire that was in
[7967]     him, and then the yielding mood had come upon her. Now that she
[7968]     had fallen to him so easily, he wondered why he had been so
[7969]     diffident.
[7970]     
[7971]     He stood, holding her head between his hands. Then, slipping one
[7972]     arm swiftly about her body and drawing her towards him, he said
[7973]     softly:
[7974]     
[7975]     "Gretta, dear, what are you thinking about?"
[7976]     
[7977]     She did not answer nor yield wholly to his arm. He said again,
[7978]     softly:
[7979]     
[7980]     "Tell me what it is, Gretta. I think I know what is the matter. Do I
[7981]     know?"
[7982]     
[7983]     She did not answer at once. Then she said in an outburst of tears:
[7984]     
[7985]     "O, I am thinking about that song, The Lass of Aughrim."
[7986]     
[7987]     She broke loose from him and ran to the bed and, throwing her
[7988]     arms across the bed-rail, hid her face. Gabriel stood stockstill for a
[7989]     moment in astonishment and then followed her. As he passed in
[7990]     the way of the cheval-glass he caught sight of himself in full
[7991]     length, his broad, well-filled shirt-front, the face whose expression
[7992]     always puzzled him when he saw it in a mirror, and his
[7993]     glimmering gilt-rimmed eyeglasses. He halted a few paces from
[7994]     her and said:
[7995]     
[7996]     "What about the song? Why does that make you cry?"
[7997]     
[7998]     She raised her head from her arms and dried her eyes with the
[7999]     back of her hand like a child. A kinder note than he had intended
[8000]     went into his voice.
[8001]     
[8002]     "Why, Gretta?" he asked.
[8003]     
[8004]     "I am thinking about a person long ago who used to sing that
[8005]     song."
[8006]     
[8007]     "And who was the person long ago?" asked Gabriel, smiling.
[8008]     
[8009]     "It was a person I used to know in Galway when I was living with
[8010]     my grandmother," she said.
[8011]     
[8012]     The smile passed away from Gabriel's face. A dull anger began to
[8013]     gather again at the back of his mind and the dull fires of his lust
[8014]     began to glow angrily in his veins.
[8015]     
[8016]     "Someone you were in love with?" he asked ironically.
[8017]     
[8018]     "It was a young boy I used to know," she answered, "named
[8019]     Michael Furey. He used to sing that song, The Lass of Aughrim.
[8020]     He was very delicate."
[8021]     
[8022]     Gabriel was silent. He did not wish her to think that he was
[8023]     interested in this delicate boy.
[8024]     
[8025]     "I can see him so plainly," she said, after a moment. "Such eyes as
[8026]     he had: big, dark eyes! And such an expression in them--an
[8027]     expression!"
[8028]     
[8029]     "O, then, you are in love with him?" said Gabriel.
[8030]     
[8031]     "I used to go out walking with him," she said, "when I was in
[8032]     Galway."
[8033]     
[8034]     A thought flew across Gabriel's mind.
[8035]     
[8036]     "Perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that Ivors
[8037]     girl?" he said coldly.
[8038]     
[8039]     She looked at him and asked in surprise:
[8040]     
[8041]     "What for?"
[8042]     
[8043]     Her eyes made Gabriel feel awkward. He shrugged his shoulders
[8044]     and said:
[8045]     
[8046]     "How do I know? To see him, perhaps."
[8047]     
[8048]     She looked away from him along the shaft of light towards the
[8049]     window in silence.
[8050]     
[8051]     "He is dead," she said at length. "He died when he was only
[8052]     seventeen. Isn't it a terrible thing to die so young as that?"
[8053]     
[8054]     "What was he?" asked Gabriel, still ironically.
[8055]     
[8056]     "He was in the gasworks," she said.
[8057]     
[8058]     Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the
[8059]     evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks.
[8060]     While he had been full of memories of their secret life together,
[8061]     full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him
[8062]     in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own
[8063]     person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting
[8064]     as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning
[8065]     sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own
[8066]     clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse
[8067]     of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light
[8068]     lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead.
[8069]     
[8070]     He tried to keep up his tone of cold interrogation, but his voice
[8071]     when he spoke was humble and indifferent.
[8072]     
[8073]     "I suppose you were in love with this Michael Furey, Gretta," he
[8074]     said.
[8075]     
[8076]     "I was great with him at that time," she said.
[8077]     
[8078]     Her voice was veiled and sad. Gabriel, feeling now how vain it
[8079]     would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed, caressed one
[8080]     of her hands and said, also sadly:
[8081]     
[8082]     "And what did he die of so young, Gretta? Consumption, was it?"
[8083]     
[8084]     "I think he died for me," she answered.
[8085]     
[8086]     A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer, as if, at that hour
[8087]     when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive
[8088]     being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its
[8089]     vague world. But he shook himself free of it with an effort of
[8090]     reason and continued to caress her hand. He did not question her
[8091]     again, for he felt that she would tell him of herself. Her hand was
[8092]     warm and moist: it did not respond to his touch, but he continued
[8093]     to caress it just as he had caressed her first letter to him that spring
[8094]     morning.
[8095]     
[8096]     "It was in the winter," she said, "about the beginning of the winter
[8097]     when I was going to leave my grandmother's and come up here to
[8098]     the convent. And he was ill at the time in his lodgings in Galway
[8099]     and wouldn't be let out, and his people in Oughterard were written
[8100]     to. He was in decline, they said, or something like that. I never
[8101]     knew rightly."
[8102]     
[8103]     She paused for a moment and sighed.
[8104]     
[8105]     "Poor fellow," she said. "He was very fond of me and he was such
[8106]     a gentle boy. We used to go out together, walking, you know,
[8107]     Gabriel, like the way they do in the country. He was going to study
[8108]     singing only for his health. He had a very good voice, poor
[8109]     Michael Furey."
[8110]     
[8111]     "Well; and then?" asked Gabriel.
[8112]     
[8113]     "And then when it came to the time for me to leave Galway and
[8114]     come up to the convent he was much worse and I wouldn't be let
[8115]     see him so I wrote him a letter saying I was going up to Dublin and
[8116]     would be back in the summer, and hoping he would be better
[8117]     then."
[8118]     
[8119]     She paused for a moment to get her voice under control, and then
[8120]     went on:
[8121]     
[8122]     "Then the night before I left, I was in my grandmother's house in
[8123]     Nuns' Island, packing up, and I heard gravel thrown up against the
[8124]     window. The window was so wet I couldn't see, so I ran downstairs
[8125]     as I was and slipped out the back into the garden and there was the
[8126]     poor fellow at the end of the garden, shivering."
[8127]     
[8128]     "And did you not tell him to go back?" asked Gabriel.
[8129]     
[8130]     "I implored of him to go home at once and told him he would get
[8131]     his death in the rain. But he said he did not want to live. I can see
[8132]     his eyes as well as well! He was standing at the end of the wall
[8133]     where there was a tree."
[8134]     
[8135]     "And did he go home?" asked Gabriel.
[8136]     
[8137]     "Yes, he went home. And when I was only a week in the convent
[8138]     he died and he was buried in Oughterard, where his people came
[8139]     from. O, the day I heard that, that he was dead!"
[8140]     
[8141]     She stopped, choking with sobs, and, overcome by emotion, flung
[8142]     herself face downward on the bed, sobbing in the quilt. Gabriel
[8143]     held her hand for a moment longer, irresolutely, and then, shy of
[8144]     intruding on her grief, let it fall gently and walked quietly to the
[8145]     window.
[8146]     
[8147]     
[8148]     
[8149]     
[8150]     
[8151]     
[8152]     She was fast asleep.
[8153]     
[8154]     Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments
[8155]     unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to
[8156]     her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a
[8157]     man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how
[8158]     poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her
[8159]     while she slept, as though he and she had never lived together as
[8160]     man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on
[8161]     her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in
[8162]     that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange, friendly pity for her
[8163]     entered his soul. He did not like to say even to himself that her
[8164]     face was no longer beautiful, but he knew that it was no longer the
[8165]     face for which Michael Furey had braved death.
[8166]     
[8167]     Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to the
[8168]     chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A petticoat
[8169]     string dangled to the floor. One boot stood upright, its limp upper
[8170]     fallen down: the fellow of it lay upon its side. He wondered at his
[8171]     riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had it proceeded?
[8172]     From his aunt's supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine
[8173]     and dancing, the merry-making when saying good-night in the hall,
[8174]     the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow. Poor Aunt
[8175]     Julia! She, too, would soon be a shade with the shade of Patrick
[8176]     Morkan and his horse. He had caught that haggard look upon her
[8177]     face for a moment when she was singing Arrayed for the Bridal.
[8178]     Soon, perhaps, he would be sitting in that same drawing-room,
[8179]     dressed in black, his silk hat on his knees. The blinds would be
[8180]     drawn down and Aunt Kate would be sitting beside him, crying
[8181]     and blowing her nose and telling him how Julia had died. He
[8182]     would cast about in his mind for some words that might console
[8183]     her, and would find only lame and useless ones. Yes, yes: that
[8184]     would happen very soon.
[8185]     
[8186]     The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself
[8187]     cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife.
[8188]     One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into
[8189]     that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and
[8190]     wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside
[8191]     him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her
[8192]     lover's eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.
[8193]     
[8194]     Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that
[8195]     himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must
[8196]     be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the
[8197]     partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man
[8198]     standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul
[8199]     had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead.
[8200]     He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and
[8201]     flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey
[8202]     impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one
[8203]     time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.
[8204]     
[8205]     A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It
[8206]     had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver
[8207]     and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had
[8208]     come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the
[8209]     newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was
[8210]     falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills,
[8211]     falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly
[8212]     falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too,
[8213]     upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael
[8214]     Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and
[8215]     headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns.
[8216]     His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly
[8217]     through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their
[8218]     last end, upon all the living and the dead.
[8219]