Dubliners by James Joyce

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

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Dubliners by James Joyce.
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[938]      EVELINE
[940]      SHE sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue.
[941]      Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her
[942]      nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.
[944]      Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his
[945]      way home; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete
[946]      pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the
[947]      new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which
[948]      they used to play every evening with other people's children. Then
[949]      a man from Belfast bought the field and built houses in it--not
[950]      like their little brown houses but bright brick houses with shining
[951]      roofs. The children of the avenue used to play together in that field
[952]      --the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she
[953]      and her brothers and sisters. Ernest, however, never played: he was
[954]      too grown up. Her father used often to hunt them in out of the field
[955]      with his blackthorn stick; but usually little Keogh used to keep nix
[956]      and call out when he saw her father coming. Still they seemed to
[957]      have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and
[958]      besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and
[959]      her brothers and sisters were all grown up her mother was dead.
[960]      Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to
[961]      England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like
[962]      the others, to leave her home.
[964]      Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar
[965]      objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years,
[966]      wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she
[967]      would never see again those familiar objects from which she had
[968]      never dreamed of being divided. And yet during all those years she
[969]      had never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing
[970]      photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside
[971]      the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary
[972]      Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he
[973]      showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a
[974]      casual word:
[976]      "He is in Melbourne now."
[978]      She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise?
[979]      She tried to weigh each side of the question. In her home anyway
[980]      she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all
[981]      her life about her. O course she had to work hard, both in the
[982]      house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores
[983]      when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she
[984]      was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by
[985]      advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an
[986]      edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening.
[988]      "Miss Hill, don't you see these ladies are waiting?"
[990]      "Look lively, Miss Hill, please."
[992]      She would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.
[994]      But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not
[995]      be like that. Then she would be married--she, Eveline. People
[996]      would treat her with respect then. She would not be treated as her
[997]      mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she
[998]      sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence. She knew
[999]      it was that that had given her the palpitations. When they were
[1000]     growing up he had never gone for her like he used to go for Harry
[1001]     and Ernest, because she was a girl but latterly he had begun to
[1002]     threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead
[1003]     mother's sake. And no she had nobody to protect her. Ernest was
[1004]     dead and Harry, who was in the church decorating business, was
[1005]     nearly always down somewhere in the country. Besides, the
[1006]     invariable squabble for money on Saturday nights had begun to
[1007]     weary her unspeakably. She always gave her entire wages--seven
[1008]     shillings--and Harry always sent up what he could but the trouble
[1009]     was to get any money from her father. He said she used to
[1010]     squander the money, that she had no head, that he wasn't going to
[1011]     give her his hard-earned money to throw about the streets, and
[1012]     much more, for he was usually fairly bad on Saturday night. In the
[1013]     end he would give her the money and ask her had she any intention
[1014]     of buying Sunday's dinner. Then she had to rush out as quickly as
[1015]     she could and do her marketing, holding her black leather purse
[1016]     tightly in her hand as she elbowed her way through the crowds and
[1017]     returning home late under her load of provisions. She had hard
[1018]     work to keep the house together and to see that the two young
[1019]     children who had been left to hr charge went to school regularly
[1020]     and got their meals regularly. It was hard work--a hard life--but
[1021]     now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly
[1022]     undesirable life.
[1024]     She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very
[1025]     kind, manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the
[1026]     night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Ayres
[1027]     where he had a home waiting for her. How well she remembered
[1028]     the first time she had seen him; he was lodging in a house on the
[1029]     main road where she used to visit. It seemed a few weeks ago. He
[1030]     was standing at the gate, his peaked cap pushed back on his head
[1031]     and his hair tumbled forward over a face of bronze. Then they had
[1032]     come to know each other. He used to meet her outside the Stores
[1033]     every evening and see her home. He took her to see The Bohemian
[1034]     Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part of the
[1035]     theatre with him. He was awfully fond of music and sang a little.
[1036]     People knew that they were courting and, when he sang about the
[1037]     lass that loves a sailor, she always felt pleasantly confused. He
[1038]     used to call her Poppens out of fun. First of all it had been an
[1039]     excitement for her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like
[1040]     him. He had tales of distant countries. He had started as a deck boy
[1041]     at a pound a month on a ship of the Allan Line going out to
[1042]     Canada. He told her the names of the ships he had been on and the
[1043]     names of the different services. He had sailed through the Straits
[1044]     of Magellan and he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians. He
[1045]     had fallen on his feet in Buenos Ayres, he said, and had come over
[1046]     to the old country just for a holiday. Of course, her father had
[1047]     found out the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say
[1048]     to him.
[1050]     "I know these sailor chaps," he said.
[1052]     One day he had quarrelled with Frank and after that she had to
[1053]     meet her lover secretly.
[1055]     The evening deepened in the avenue. The white of two letters in
[1056]     her lap grew indistinct. One was to Harry; the other was to her
[1057]     father. Ernest had been her favourite but she liked Harry too. Her
[1058]     father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her.
[1059]     Sometimes he could be very nice. Not long before, when she had
[1060]     been laid up for a day, he had read her out a ghost story and made
[1061]     toast for her at the fire. Another day, when their mother was alive,
[1062]     they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill of Howth. She
[1063]     remembered her father putting on her mothers bonnet to make the
[1064]     children laugh.
[1066]     Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window,
[1067]     leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odour of
[1068]     dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street
[1069]     organ playing. She knew the air Strange that it should come that
[1070]     very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise
[1071]     to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered
[1072]     the last night of her mother's illness; she was again in the close
[1073]     dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a
[1074]     melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player had been ordered to go
[1075]     away and given sixpence. She remembered her father strutting
[1076]     back into the sickroom saying:
[1078]     "Damned Italians! coming over here!"
[1080]     As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid its spell on
[1081]     the very quick of her being--that life of commonplace sacrifices
[1082]     closing in final craziness. She trembled as she heard again her
[1083]     mother's voice saying constantly with foolish insistence:
[1085]     "Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!"
[1087]     She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must
[1088]     escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps
[1089]     love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She
[1090]     had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her
[1091]     in his arms. He would save her.
[1093]     She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North
[1094]     Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her,
[1095]     saying something about the passage over and over again. The
[1096]     station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide
[1097]     doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the
[1098]     boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She
[1099]     answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a
[1100]     maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what
[1101]     was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist.
[1102]     If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank,
[1103]     steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked.
[1104]     Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her
[1105]     distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips
[1106]     in silent fervent prayer.
[1108]     A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:
[1110]     "Come!"
[1112]     All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing
[1113]     her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at
[1114]     the iron railing.
[1116]     "Come!"
[1118]     No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in
[1119]     frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.
[1121]     "Eveline! Evvy!"
[1123]     He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was
[1124]     shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face
[1125]     to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign
[1126]     of love or farewell or recognition.