Dubliners by James Joyce
Two Gallants

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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[1361]     TWO GALLANTS
[1363]     THE grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city
[1364]     and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the
[1365]     streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed
[1366]     with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps
[1367]     shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture
[1368]     below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the
[1369]     warm grey evening air an unchanging unceasing murmur.
[1371]     Two young men came down the hill of Rutland Square. On of
[1372]     them was just bringing a long monologue to a close. The other,
[1373]     who walked on the verge of the path and was at times obliged to
[1374]     step on to the road, owing to his companion's rudeness, wore an
[1375]     amused listening face. He was squat and ruddy. A yachting cap
[1376]     was shoved far back from his forehead and the narrative to which
[1377]     he listened made constant waves of expression break forth over his
[1378]     face from the corners of his nose and eyes and mouth. Little jets of
[1379]     wheezing laughter followed one another out of his convulsed body.
[1380]     His eyes, twinkling with cunning enjoyment, glanced at every
[1381]     moment towards his companion's face. Once or twice he
[1382]     rearranged the light waterproof which he had slung over one
[1383]     shoulder in toreador fashion. His breeches, his white rubber shoes
[1384]     and his jauntily slung waterproof expressed youth. But his figure
[1385]     fell into rotundity at the waist, his hair was scant and grey and his
[1386]     face, when the waves of expression had passed over it, had a
[1387]     ravaged look.
[1389]     When he was quite sure that the narrative had ended he laughed
[1390]     noiselessly for fully half a minute. Then he said:
[1392]     "Well!... That takes the biscuit!"
[1394]     His voice seemed winnowed of vigour; and to enforce his words he
[1395]     added with humour:
[1397]     "That takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call it, recherche
[1398]     biscuit! "
[1400]     He became serious and silent when he had said this. His tongue
[1401]     was tired for he had been talking all the afternoon in a
[1402]     public-house in Dorset Street. Most people considered Lenehan a
[1403]     leech but, in spite of this reputation, his adroitness and eloquence
[1404]     had always prevented his friends from forming any general policy
[1405]     against him. He had a brave manner of coming up to a party of
[1406]     them in a bar and of holding himself nimbly at the borders of the
[1407]     company until he was included in a round. He was a sporting
[1408]     vagrant armed with a vast stock of stories, limericks and riddles.
[1409]     He was insensitive to all kinds of discourtesy. No one knew how
[1410]     he achieved the stern task of living, but his name was vaguely
[1411]     associated with racing tissues.
[1413]     "And where did you pick her up, Corley?" he asked.
[1415]     Corley ran his tongue swiftly along his upper lip.
[1417]     "One night, man," he said, "I was going along Dame Street and I
[1418]     spotted a fine tart under Waterhouse's clock and said good- night,
[1419]     you know. So we went for a walk round by the canal and she told
[1420]     me she was a slavey in a house in Baggot Street. I put my arm
[1421]     round her and squeezed her a bit that night. Then next Sunday,
[1422]     man, I met her by appointment. We vent out to Donnybrook and I
[1423]     brought her into a field there. She told me she used to go with a
[1424]     dairyman.... It was fine, man. Cigarettes every night she'd bring me
[1425]     and paying the tram out and back. And one night she brought me
[1426]     two bloody fine cigars--O, the real cheese, you know, that the old
[1427]     fellow used to smoke.... I was afraid, man, she'd get in the family
[1428]     way. But she's up to the dodge."
[1430]     "Maybe she thinks you'll marry her," said Lenehan.
[1432]     "I told her I was out of a job," said Corley. "I told her I was in
[1433]     Pim's. She doesn't know my name. I was too hairy to tell her that.
[1434]     But she thinks I'm a bit of class, you know."
[1436]     Lenehan laughed again, noiselessly.
[1438]     "Of all the good ones ever I heard," he said, "that emphatically
[1439]     takes the biscuit."
[1441]     Corley's stride acknowledged the compliment. The swing of his
[1442]     burly body made his friend execute a few light skips from the path
[1443]     to the roadway and back again. Corley was the son of an inspector
[1444]     of police and he had inherited his father's frame and gut. He
[1445]     walked with his hands by his sides, holding himself erect and
[1446]     swaying his head from side to side. His head was large, globular
[1447]     and oily; it sweated in all weathers; and his large round hat, set
[1448]     upon it sideways, looked like a bulb which had grown out of
[1449]     another. He always stared straight before him as if he were on
[1450]     parade and, when he wished to gaze after someone in the street, it
[1451]     was necessary for him to move his body from the hips. At present
[1452]     he was about town. Whenever any job was vacant a friend was
[1453]     always ready to give him the hard word. He was often to be seen
[1454]     walking with policemen in plain clothes, talking earnestly. He
[1455]     knew the inner side of all affairs and was fond of delivering final
[1456]     judgments. He spoke without listening to the speech of his
[1457]     companions. His conversation was mainly about himself what he
[1458]     had said to such a person and what such a person had said to him
[1459]     and what he had said to settle the matter. When he reported these
[1460]     dialogues he aspirated the first letter of his name after the manner
[1461]     of Florentines.
[1463]     Lenehan offered his friend a cigarette. As the two young men
[1464]     walked on through the crowd Corley occasionally turned to smile
[1465]     at some of the passing girls but Lenehan's gaze was fixed on the
[1466]     large faint moon circled with a double halo. He watched earnestly
[1467]     the passing of the grey web of twilight across its face. At length he
[1468]     said:
[1470]     "Well... tell me, Corley, I suppose you'll be able to pull it off all
[1471]     right, eh?"
[1473]     Corley closed one eye expressively as an answer.
[1475]     "Is she game for that?" asked Lenehan dubiously. "You can never
[1476]     know women."
[1478]     "She's all right," said Corley. "I know the way to get around her,
[1479]     man. She's a bit gone on me."
[1481]     "You're what I call a gay Lothario," said Lenehan. "And the proper
[1482]     kind of a Lothario, too!"
[1484]     A shade of mockery relieved the servility of his manner. To save
[1485]     himself he had the habit of leaving his flattery open to the
[1486]     interpretation of raillery. But Corley had not a subtle mind.
[1488]     "There's nothing to touch a good slavey," he affirmed. "Take my
[1489]     tip for it."
[1491]     "By one who has tried them all," said Lenehan.
[1493]     "First I used to go with girls, you know," said Corley, unbosoming;
[1494]     "girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the
[1495]     tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play
[1496]     at the theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that
[1497]     way. I used to spend money on them right enough," he added, in a
[1498]     convincing tone, as if he was conscious of being disbelieved.
[1500]     But Lenehan could well believe it; he nodded gravely.
[1502]     "I know that game," he said, "and it's a mug's game."
[1504]     "And damn the thing I ever got out of it," said Corley.
[1506]     "Ditto here," said Lenehan.
[1508]     "Only off of one of them," said Corley.
[1510]     He moistened his upper lip by running his tongue along it. The
[1511]     recollection brightened his eyes. He too gazed at the pale disc of
[1512]     the moon, now nearly veiled, and seemed to meditate.
[1514]     She was... a bit of all right," he said regretfully.
[1516]     He was silent again. Then he added:
[1518]     "She's on the turf now. I saw her driving down Earl Street one
[1519]     night with two fellows with her on a car."
[1521]     "I suppose that's your doing," said Lenehan.
[1523]     "There was others at her before me," said Corley philosophically.
[1525]     This time Lenehan was inclined to disbelieve. He shook his head
[1526]     to and fro and smiled.
[1528]     "You know you can't kid me, Corley," he said.
[1530]     "Honest to God!" said Corley. "Didn't she tell me herself?"
[1532]     Lenehan made a tragic gesture.
[1534]     "Base betrayer!" he said.
[1536]     As they passed along the railings of Trinity College, Lenehan
[1537]     skipped out into the road and peered up at the clock.
[1539]     "Twenty after," he said.
[1541]     "Time enough," said Corley. "She'll be there all right. I always let
[1542]     her wait a bit."
[1544]     Lenehan laughed quietly.
[1546]     'Ecod! Corley, you know how to take them," he said.
[1548]     "I'm up to all their little tricks," Corley confessed.
[1550]     "But tell me," said Lenehan again, "are you sure you can bring it
[1551]     off all right? You know it's a ticklish job. They're damn close on
[1552]     that point. Eh? ... What?"
[1554]     His bright, small eyes searched his companion's face for
[1555]     reassurance. Corley swung his head to and fro as if to toss aside an
[1556]     insistent insect, and his brows gathered.
[1558]     "I'll pull it off," he said. "Leave it to me, can't you?"
[1560]     Lenehan said no more. He did not wish to ruffle his friend's
[1561]     temper, to be sent to the devil and told that his advice was not
[1562]     wanted. A little tact was necessary. But Corley's brow was soon
[1563]     smooth again. His thoughts were running another way.
[1565]     "She's a fine decent tart," he said, with appreciation; "that's what
[1566]     she is."
[1568]     They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare
[1569]     Street. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the
[1570]     roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the
[1571]     wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of
[1572]     each new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky.
[1573]     His harp, too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her
[1574]     knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her
[1575]     master's hands. One hand played in the bass the melody of Silent,
[1576]     O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each
[1577]     group of notes. The notes of the air sounded deep and full.
[1579]     The two young men walked up the street without speaking, the
[1580]     mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen's
[1581]     Green they crossed the road. Here the noise of trams, the lights and
[1582]     the crowd released them from their silence.
[1584]     "There she is!" said Corley.
[1586]     At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She
[1587]     wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the
[1588]     curbstone, swinging a sunshade in one hand. Lenehan grew lively.
[1590]     "Let's have a look at her, Corley," he said.
[1592]     Corley glanced sideways at his friend and an unpleasant grin
[1593]     appeared on his face.
[1595]     "Are you trying to get inside me?" he asked.
[1597]     "Damn it!" said Lenehan boldly, "I don't want an introduction. All I
[1598]     want is to have a look at her. I'm not going to eat her."
[1600]     "O ... A look at her?" said Corley, more amiably. "Well... I'll tell
[1601]     you what. I'll go over and talk to her and you can pass by."
[1603]     "Right!" said Lenehan.
[1605]     Corley had already thrown one leg over the chains when Lenehan
[1606]     called out:
[1608]     "And after? Where will we meet?"
[1610]     "Half ten," answered Corley, bringing over his other leg.
[1612]     "Where?"
[1614]     "Corner of Merrion Street. We'll be coming back."
[1616]     "Work it all right now," said Lenehan in farewell.
[1618]     Corley did not answer. He sauntered across the road swaying his
[1619]     head from side to side. His bulk, his easy pace, and the solid sound
[1620]     of his boots had something of the conqueror in them. He
[1621]     approached the young woman and, without saluting, began at once
[1622]     to converse with her. She swung her umbrella more quickly and
[1623]     executed half turns on her heels. Once or twice when he spoke to
[1624]     her at close quarters she laughed and bent her head.
[1626]     Lenehan observed them for a few minutes. Then he walked rapidly
[1627]     along beside the chains at some distance and crossed the road
[1628]     obliquely. As he approached Hume Street corner he found the air
[1629]     heavily scented and his eyes made a swift anxious scrutiny of the
[1630]     young woman's appearance. She had her Sunday finery on. Her
[1631]     blue serge skirt was held at the waist by a belt of black leather.
[1632]     The great silver buckle of her belt seemed to depress the centre of
[1633]     her body, catching the light stuff of her white blouse like a clip.
[1634]     She wore a short black jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons and a
[1635]     ragged black boa. The ends of her tulle collarette had been
[1636]     carefully disordered and a big bunch of red flowers was pinned in
[1637]     her bosom stems upwards. Lenehan's eyes noted approvingly her
[1638]     stout short muscular body. rank rude health glowed in her face, on
[1639]     her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features
[1640]     were blunt. She had broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay
[1641]     open in a contented leer, and two projecting front teeth. As he
[1642]     passed Lenehan took off his cap and, after about ten seconds,
[1643]     Corley returned a salute to the air. This he did by raising his hand
[1644]     vaguely and pensively changing the angle of position of his hat.
[1646]     Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted
[1647]     and waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming
[1648]     towards him and, when they turned to the right, he followed them,
[1649]     stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion
[1650]     Square. As he walked on slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he
[1651]     watched Corley's head which turned at every moment towards the
[1652]     young woman's face like a big ball revolving on a pivot. He kept
[1653]     the pair in view until he had seen them climbing the stairs of the
[1654]     Donnybrook tram; then he turned about and went back the way he
[1655]     had come.
[1657]     Now that he was alone his face looked older. His gaiety seemed to
[1658]     forsake him and, as he came by the railings of the Duke's Lawn, he
[1659]     allowed his hand to run along them. The air which the harpist had
[1660]     played began to control his movements His softly padded feet
[1661]     played the melody while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly
[1662]     along the railings after each group of notes.
[1664]     He walked listlessly round Stephen's Green and then down Grafton
[1665]     Street. Though his eyes took note of many elements of the crowd
[1666]     through which he passed they did so morosely. He found trivial all
[1667]     that was meant to charm him and did not answer the glances which
[1668]     invited him to be bold. He knew that he would have to speak a
[1669]     great deal, to invent and to amuse and his brain and throat were
[1670]     too dry for such a task. The problem of how he could pass the
[1671]     hours till he met Corley again troubled him a little. He could think
[1672]     of no way of passing them but to keep on walking. He turned to the
[1673]     left when he came to the corner of Rutland Square and felt more at
[1674]     ease in the dark quiet street, the sombre look of which suited his
[1675]     mood. He paused at last before the window of a poor-looking shop
[1676]     over which the words Refreshment Bar were printed in white
[1677]     letters. On the glass of the window were two flying inscriptions:
[1678]     Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale. A cut ham was exposed on a great
[1679]     blue dish while near it on a plate lay a segment of very light
[1680]     plum-pudding. He eyed this food earnestly for some time and then,
[1681]     after glancing warily up and down the street, went into the shop
[1682]     quickly.
[1684]     He was hungry for, except some biscuits which he had asked two
[1685]     grudging curates to bring him, he had eaten nothing since
[1686]     breakfast-time. He sat down at an uncovered wooden table
[1687]     opposite two work-girls and a mechanic. A slatternly girl waited
[1688]     on him.
[1690]     "How much is a plate of peas?" he asked.
[1692]     "Three halfpence, sir," said the girl.
[1694]     "Bring me a plate of peas," he said, "and a bottle of ginger beer."
[1696]     He spoke roughly in order to belie his air of gentility for his entry
[1697]     had been followed by a pause of talk. His face was heated. To
[1698]     appear natural he pushed his cap back on his head and planted his
[1699]     elbows on the table. The mechanic and the two work-girls
[1700]     examined him point by point before resuming their conversation in
[1701]     a subdued voice. The girl brought him a plate of grocer's hot peas,
[1702]     seasoned with pepper and vinegar, a fork and his ginger beer. He
[1703]     ate his food greedily and found it so good that he made a note of
[1704]     the shop mentally. When he had eaten all the peas he sipped his
[1705]     ginger beer and sat for some time thinking of Corley's adventure.
[1706]     In his imagination he beheld the pair of lovers walking along some
[1707]     dark road; he heard Corley's voice in deep energetic gallantries and
[1708]     saw again the leer of the young woman's mouth. This vision made
[1709]     him feel keenly his own poverty of purse and spirit. He was tired
[1710]     of knocking about, of pulling the devil by the tail, of shifts and
[1711]     intrigues. He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never
[1712]     get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He
[1713]     thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and
[1714]     a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long
[1715]     enough with friends and with girls. He knew what those friends
[1716]     were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience had embittered his
[1717]     heart against the world. But all hope had not left him. He felt
[1718]     better after having eaten than he had felt before, less weary of his
[1719]     life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to settle down
[1720]     in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across
[1721]     some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready.
[1723]     He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of
[1724]     the shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street
[1725]     and walked along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame
[1726]     Street. At the corner of George's Street he met two friends of his
[1727]     and stopped to converse with them. He was glad that he could rest
[1728]     from all his walking. His friends asked him had he seen Corley and
[1729]     what was the latest. He replied that he had spent the day with
[1730]     Corley. His friends talked very little. They looked vacantly after
[1731]     some figures in the crowd and sometimes made a critical remark.
[1732]     One said that he had seen Mac an hour before in Westmoreland
[1733]     Street. At this Lenehan said that he had been with Mac the night
[1734]     before in Egan's. The young man who had seen Mac in
[1735]     Westmoreland Street asked was it true that Mac had won a bit over
[1736]     a billiard match. Lenehan did not know: he said that Holohan had
[1737]     stood them drinks in Egan's.
[1739]     He left his friends at a quarter to ten and went up George's Street.
[1740]     He turned to the left at the City Markets and walked on into
[1741]     Grafton Street. The crowd of girls and young men had thinned and
[1742]     on his way up the street he heard many groups and couples bidding
[1743]     one another good-night. He went as far as the clock of the College
[1744]     of Surgeons: it was on the stroke of ten. He set off briskly along
[1745]     the northern side of the Green hurrying for fear Corley should
[1746]     return too soon. When he reached the corner of Merrion Street he
[1747]     took his stand in the shadow of a lamp and brought out one of the
[1748]     cigarettes which he had reserved and lit it. He leaned against the
[1749]     lamp-post and kept his gaze fixed on the part from which he
[1750]     expected to see Corley and the young woman return.
[1752]     His mind became active again. He wondered had Corley managed
[1753]     it successfully. He wondered if he had asked her yet or if he would
[1754]     leave it to the last. He suffered all the pangs and thrills of his
[1755]     friend's situation as well as those of his own. But the memory of
[1756]     Corley's slowly revolving head calmed him somewhat: he was sure
[1757]     Corley would pull it off all right. All at once the idea struck him
[1758]     that perhaps Corley had seen her home by another way and given
[1759]     him the slip. His eyes searched the street: there was no sign of
[1760]     them. Yet it was surely half-an-hour since he had seen the clock of
[1761]     the College of Surgeons. Would Corley do a thing like that? He lit
[1762]     his last cigarette and began to smoke it nervously. He strained his
[1763]     eyes as each tram stopped at the far corner of the square. They
[1764]     must have gone home by another way. The paper of his cigarette
[1765]     broke and he flung it into the road with a curse.
[1767]     Suddenly he saw them coming towards him. He started with
[1768]     delight and keeping close to his lamp-post tried to read the result
[1769]     in their walk. They were walking quickly, the young woman taking
[1770]     quick short steps, while Corley kept beside her with his long stride.
[1771]     They did not seem to be speaking. An intimation of the result
[1772]     pricked him like the point of a sharp instrument. He knew Corley
[1773]     would fail; he knew it was no go.
[1775]     They turned down Baggot Street and he followed them at once,
[1776]     taking the other footpath. When they stopped he stopped too. They
[1777]     talked for a few moments and then the young woman went down
[1778]     the steps into the area of a house. Corley remained standing at the
[1779]     edge of the path, a little distance from the front steps. Some
[1780]     minutes passed. Then the hall-door was opened slowly and
[1781]     cautiously. A woman came running down the front steps and
[1782]     coughed. Corley turned and went towards her. His broad figure hid
[1783]     hers from view for a few seconds and then she reappeared running
[1784]     up the steps. The door closed on her and Corley began to walk
[1785]     swiftly towards Stephen's Green.
[1787]     Lenehan hurried on in the same direction. Some drops of light rain
[1788]     fell. He took them as a warning and, glancing back towards the
[1789]     house which the young woman had entered to see that he was not
[1790]     observed, he ran eagerly across the road. Anxiety and his swift run
[1791]     made him pant. He called out:
[1793]     "Hallo, Corley!"
[1795]     Corley turned his head to see who had called him, and then
[1796]     continued walking as before. Lenehan ran after him, settling the
[1797]     waterproof on his shoulders with one hand.
[1799]     "Hallo, Corley!" he cried again.
[1801]     He came level with his friend and looked keenly in his face. He
[1802]     could see nothing there.
[1804]     "Well?" he said. "Did it come off?"
[1806]     They had reached the corner of Ely Place. Still without answering,
[1807]     Corley swerved to the left and went up the side street. His features
[1808]     were composed in stern calm. Lenehan kept up with his friend,
[1809]     breathing uneasily. He was baffled and a note of menace pierced
[1810]     through his voice.
[1812]     "Can't you tell us?" he said. "Did you try her?"
[1814]     Corley halted at the first lamp and stared grimly before him. Then
[1815]     with a grave gesture he extended a hand towards the light and,
[1816]     smiling, opened it slowly to the gaze of his disciple. A small gold
[1817]     coin shone in the palm.