Dubliners by James Joyce
A Little Cloud

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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[2103]     A LITTLE CLOUD
[2104]     
[2105]     EIGHT years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall
[2106]     and wished him godspeed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that
[2107]     at once by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless
[2108]     accent. Few fellows had talents like his and fewer still could
[2109]     remain unspoiled by such success. Gallaher's heart was in the right
[2110]     place and he had deserved to win. It was something to have a
[2111]     friend like that.
[2112]     
[2113]     Little Chandler's thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his
[2114]     meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher's invitation and of the great city
[2115]     London where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler
[2116]     because, though he was but slightly under the average stature, he
[2117]     gave one the idea of being a little man. His hands were white and
[2118]     small, his frame was fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners
[2119]     were refined. He took the greatest care of his fair silken hair and
[2120]     moustache and used perfume discreetly on his handkerchief. The
[2121]     half-moons of his nails were perfect and when he smiled you
[2122]     caught a glimpse of a row of childish white teeth.
[2123]     
[2124]     As he sat at his desk in the King's Inns he thought what changes
[2125]     those eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known
[2126]     under a shabby and necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure
[2127]     on the London Press. He turned often from his tiresome writing to
[2128]     gaze out of the office window. The glow of a late autumn sunset
[2129]     covered the grass plots and walks. It cast a shower of kindly
[2130]     golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit old men who
[2131]     drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all the moving figures--
[2132]     on the children who ran screaming along the gravel paths and on
[2133]     everyone who passed through the gardens. He watched the scene
[2134]     and thought of life; and (as always happened when he thought of
[2135]     life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him.
[2136]     He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being
[2137]     the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
[2138]     
[2139]     He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He
[2140]     had bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he
[2141]     sat in the little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one
[2142]     down from the bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But
[2143]     shyness had always held him back; and so the books had remained
[2144]     on their shelves. At times he repeated lines to himself and this
[2145]     consoled him.
[2146]     
[2147]     When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk
[2148]     and of his fellow-clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the
[2149]     feudal arch of the King's Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked
[2150]     swiftly down Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and
[2151]     the air had grown sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the
[2152]     street. They stood or ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps
[2153]     before the gaping doors or squatted like mice upon the thresholds.
[2154]     Little Chandler gave them no thought. He picked his way deftly
[2155]     through all that minute vermin-like life and under the shadow of
[2156]     the gaunt spectral mansions in which the old nobility of Dublin
[2157]     had roystered. No memory of the past touched him, for his mind
[2158]     was full of a present joy.
[2159]     
[2160]     He had never been in Corless's but he knew the value of the name.
[2161]     He knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and
[2162]     drink liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke
[2163]     French and German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs
[2164]     drawn up before the door and richly dressed ladies, escorted by
[2165]     cavaliers, alight and enter quickly. They wore noisy dresses and
[2166]     many wraps. Their faces were powdered and they caught up their
[2167]     dresses, when they touched earth, like alarmed Atalantas. He had
[2168]     always passed without turning his head to look. It was his habit to
[2169]     walk swiftly in the street even by day and whenever he found
[2170]     himself in the city late at night he hurried on his way
[2171]     apprehensively and excitedly. Sometimes, however, he courted the
[2172]     causes of his fear. He chose the darkest and narrowest streets and,
[2173]     as he walked boldly forward, the silence that was spread about his
[2174]     footsteps troubled him, the wandering, silent figures troubled him;
[2175]     and at times a sound of low fugitive laughter made him tremble
[2176]     like a leaf.
[2177]     
[2178]     He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on
[2179]     the London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years
[2180]     before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could
[2181]     remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used
[2182]     to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild Of course, he did mix with a
[2183]     rakish set of fellows at that time. drank freely and borrowed
[2184]     money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady
[2185]     affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his
[2186]     flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain...
[2187]     something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of
[2188]     yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits' end for
[2189]     money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and
[2190]     the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one
[2191]     of Ignatius Gallaher's sayings when he was in a tight corner:
[2192]     
[2193]     "Half time now, boys," he used to say light-heartedly. "Where's my
[2194]     considering cap?"
[2195]     
[2196]     That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn't but
[2197]     admire him for it.
[2198]     
[2199]     Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he
[2200]     felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his
[2201]     soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There
[2202]     was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go
[2203]     away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan
[2204]     Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and
[2205]     pitied the poor stunted houses. They seemed to him a band of
[2206]     tramps, huddled together along the riverbanks, their old coats
[2207]     covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the panorama of sunset
[2208]     and waiting for the first chill of night bid them arise, shake
[2209]     themselves and begone. He wondered whether he could write a
[2210]     poem to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it
[2211]     into some London paper for him. Could he write something
[2212]     original? He was not sure what idea he wished to express but the
[2213]     thought that a poetic moment had touched him took life within
[2214]     him like an infant hope. He stepped onward bravely.
[2215]     
[2216]     Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own
[2217]     sober inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his
[2218]     mind. He was not so old--thirty-two. His temperament might be
[2219]     said to be just at the point of maturity. There were so many
[2220]     different moods and impressions that he wished to express in
[2221]     verse. He felt them within him. He tried weigh his soul to see if it
[2222]     was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his
[2223]     temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by
[2224]     recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could
[2225]     give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen.
[2226]     He would never be popular: he saw that. He could not sway the
[2227]     crowd but he might appeal to a little circle of kindred minds. The
[2228]     English critics, perhaps, would recognise him as one of the Celtic
[2229]     school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems; besides
[2230]     that, he would put in allusions. He began to invent sentences and
[2231]     phrases from the notice which his book would get. "Mr. Chandler
[2232]     has the gift of easy and graceful verse." ... "wistful sadness
[2233]     pervades these poems." ... "The Celtic note." It was a pity his name
[2234]     was not more Irish-looking. Perhaps it would be better to insert his
[2235]     mother's name before the surname: Thomas Malone Chandler, or
[2236]     better still: T. Malone Chandler. He would speak to Gallaher about
[2237]     it.
[2238]     
[2239]     He pursued his revery so ardently that he passed his street and had
[2240]     to turn back. As he came near Corless's his former agitation began
[2241]     to overmaster him and he halted before the door in indecision.
[2242]     Finally he opened the door and entered.
[2243]     
[2244]     The light and noise of the bar held him at the doorways for a few
[2245]     moments. He looked about him, but his sight was confused by the
[2246]     shining of many red and green wine-glasses The bar seemed to him
[2247]     to be full of people and he felt that the people were observing him
[2248]     curiously. He glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to
[2249]     make his errand appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little
[2250]     he saw that nobody had turned to look at him: and there, sure
[2251]     enough, was Ignatius Gallaher leaning with his back against the
[2252]     counter and his feet planted far apart.
[2253]     
[2254]     "Hallo, Tommy, old hero, here you are! What is it to be? What will
[2255]     you have? I'm taking whisky: better stuff than we get across the
[2256]     water. Soda? Lithia? No mineral? I'm the same Spoils the
[2257]     flavour.... Here, garcon, bring us two halves of malt whisky, like a
[2258]     good fellow.... Well, and how have you been pulling along since I
[2259]     saw you last? Dear God, how old we're getting! Do you see any
[2260]     signs of aging in me--eh, what? A little grey and thin on the top--
[2261]     what?"
[2262]     
[2263]     Ignatius Gallaher took off his hat and displayed a large closely
[2264]     cropped head. His face was heavy, pale and cleanshaven. His eyes,
[2265]     which were of bluish slate-colour, relieved his unhealthy pallor
[2266]     and shone out plainly above the vivid orange tie he wore. Between
[2267]     these rival features the lips appeared very long and shapeless and
[2268]     colourless. He bent his head and felt with two sympathetic fingers
[2269]     the thin hair at the crown. Little Chandler shook his head as a
[2270]     denial. Ignatius Galaher put on his hat again.
[2271]     
[2272]     "It pulls you down," be said, "Press life. Always hurry and scurry,
[2273]     looking for copy and sometimes not finding it: and then, always to
[2274]     have something new in your stuff. Damn proofs and printers, I say,
[2275]     for a few days. I'm deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the
[2276]     old country. Does a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton
[2277]     better since I landed again in dear dirty Dublin.... Here you are,
[2278]     Tommy. Water? Say when."
[2279]     
[2280]     Little Chandler allowed his whisky to be very much diluted.
[2281]     
[2282]     "You don't know what's good for you, my boy," said Ignatius
[2283]     Gallaher. "I drink mine neat."
[2284]     
[2285]     "I drink very little as a rule," said Little Chandler modestly. "An
[2286]     odd half-one or so when I meet any of the old crowd: that's all."
[2287]     
[2288]     "Ah well," said Ignatius Gallaher, cheerfully, "here's to us and to
[2289]     old times and old acquaintance."
[2290]     
[2291]     They clinked glasses and drank the toast.
[2292]     
[2293]     "I met some of the old gang today," said Ignatius Gallaher. "O'Hara
[2294]     seems to be in a bad way. What's he doing?"
[2295]     
[2296]     "Nothing, said Little Chandler. "He's gone to the dogs."
[2297]     
[2298]     "But Hogan has a good sit, hasn't he?"
[2299]     
[2300]     "Yes; he's in the Land Commission."
[2301]     
[2302]     "I met him one night in London and he seemed to be very flush....
[2303]     Poor O'Hara! Boose, I suppose?"
[2304]     
[2305]     "Other things, too," said Little Chandler shortly.
[2306]     
[2307]     Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
[2308]     
[2309]     "Tommy," he said, "I see you haven't changed an atom. You're the
[2310]     very same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday
[2311]     mornings when I had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You'd
[2312]     want to knock about a bit in the world. Have you never been
[2313]     anywhere even for a trip?"
[2314]     
[2315]     "I've been to the Isle of Man," said Little Chandler.
[2316]     
[2317]     Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
[2318]     
[2319]     "The Isle of Man!" he said. "Go to London or Paris: Paris, for
[2320]     choice. That'd do you good."
[2321]     
[2322]     "Have you seen Paris?"
[2323]     
[2324]     "I should think I have! I've knocked about there a little."
[2325]     
[2326]     "And is it really so beautiful as they say?" asked Little Chandler.
[2327]     
[2328]     He sipped a little of his drink while Ignatius Gallaher finished his
[2329]     boldly.
[2330]     
[2331]     "Beautiful?" said Ignatius Gallaher, pausing on the word and on
[2332]     the flavour of his drink. "It's not so beautiful, you know. Of course,
[2333]     it is beautiful.... But it's the life of Paris; that's the thing. Ah, there's
[2334]     no city like Paris for gaiety, movement, excitement...."
[2335]     
[2336]     Little Chandler finished his whisky and, after some trouble,
[2337]     succeeded in catching the barman's eye. He ordered the same
[2338]     again.
[2339]     
[2340]     "I've been to the Moulin Rouge," Ignatius Gallaher continued when
[2341]     the barman had removed their glasses, "and I've been to all the
[2342]     Bohemian cafes. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap like you,
[2343]     Tommy."
[2344]     
[2345]     Little Chandler said nothing until the barman returned with two
[2346]     glasses: then he touched his friend's glass lightly and reciprocated
[2347]     the former toast. He was beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned.
[2348]     Gallaher's accent and way of expressing himself did not please
[2349]     him. There was something vulgar in his friend which he had not
[2350]     observed before. But perhaps it was only the result of living in
[2351]     London amid the bustle and competition of the Press. The old
[2352]     personal charm was still there under this new gaudy manner. And,
[2353]     after all, Gallaher had lived, he had seen the world. Little Chandler
[2354]     looked at his friend enviously.
[2355]     
[2356]     "Everything in Paris is gay," said Ignatius Gallaher. "They believe
[2357]     in enjoying life--and don't you think they're right? If you want to
[2358]     enjoy yourself properly you must go to Paris. And, mind you,
[2359]     they've a great feeling for the Irish there. When they heard I was
[2360]     from Ireland they were ready to eat me, man."
[2361]     
[2362]     Little Chandler took four or five sips from his glass.
[2363]     
[2364]     "Tell me," he said, "is it true that Paris is so... immoral as they
[2365]     say?"
[2366]     
[2367]     Ignatius Gallaher made a catholic gesture with his right arm.
[2368]     
[2369]     "Every place is immoral," he said. "Of course you do find spicy
[2370]     bits in Paris. Go to one of the students' balls, for instance. That's
[2371]     lively, if you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose.
[2372]     You know what they are, I suppose?"
[2373]     
[2374]     "I've heard of them," said Little Chandler.
[2375]     
[2376]     Ignatius Gallaher drank off his whisky and shook his had.
[2377]     
[2378]     "Ah," he said, "you may say what you like. There's no woman like
[2379]     the Parisienne--for style, for go."
[2380]     
[2381]     "Then it is an immoral city," said Little Chandler, with timid
[2382]     insistence--"I mean, compared with London or Dublin?"
[2383]     
[2384]     "London!" said Ignatius Gallaher. "It's six of one and half-a-dozen
[2385]     of the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about
[2386]     London when he was over there. He'd open your eye.... I say,
[2387]     Tommy, don't make punch of that whisky: liquor up."
[2388]     
[2389]     "No, really...."
[2390]     
[2391]     "O, come on, another one won't do you any harm. What is it? The
[2392]     same again, I suppose?"
[2393]     
[2394]     "Well... all right."
[2395]     
[2396]     "Francois, the same again.... Will you smoke, Tommy?"
[2397]     
[2398]     Ignatius Gallaher produced his cigar-case. The two friends lit their
[2399]     cigars and puffed at them in silence until their drinks were served.
[2400]     
[2401]     "I'll tell you my opinion," said Ignatius Gallaher, emerging after
[2402]     some time from the clouds of smoke in which he had taken refuge,
[2403]     "it's a rum world. Talk of immorality! I've heard of cases--what
[2404]     am I saying?--I've known them: cases of... immorality...."
[2405]     
[2406]     Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a
[2407]     calm historian's tone, he proceeded to sketch for his friend some
[2408]     pictures of the corruption which was rife abroad. He summarised
[2409]     the vices of many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm
[2410]     to Berlin. Some things he could not vouch for (his friends had told
[2411]     him), but of others he had had personal experience. He spared
[2412]     neither rank nor caste. He revealed many of the secrets of religious
[2413]     houses on the Continent and described some of the practices which
[2414]     were fashionable in high society and ended by telling, with details,
[2415]     a story about an English duchess--a story which he knew to be
[2416]     true. Little Chandler as astonished.
[2417]     
[2418]     "Ah, well," said Ignatius Gallaher, "here we are in old jog- along
[2419]     Dublin where nothing is known of such things."
[2420]     
[2421]     "How dull you must find it," said Little Chandler, "after all the
[2422]     other places you've seen!"
[2423]     
[2424]     Well," said Ignatius Gallaher, "it's a relaxation to come over here,
[2425]     you know. And, after all, it's the old country, as they say, isn't it?
[2426]     You can't help having a certain feeling for it. That's human
[2427]     nature.... But tell me something about yourself. Hogan told me you
[2428]     had... tasted the joys of connubial bliss. Two years ago, wasn't it?"
[2429]     
[2430]     Little Chandler blushed and smiled.
[2431]     
[2432]     "Yes," he said. "I was married last May twelve months."
[2433]     
[2434]     "I hope it's not too late in the day to offer my best wishes," said
[2435]     Ignatius Gallaher. "I didn't know your address or I'd have done so
[2436]     at the time."
[2437]     
[2438]     He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took.
[2439]     
[2440]     "Well, Tommy," he said, "I wish you and yours every joy in life,
[2441]     old chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot
[2442]     you. And that's the wish of a sincere friend, an old friend. You
[2443]     know that?"
[2444]     
[2445]     "I know that," said Little Chandler.
[2446]     
[2447]     "Any youngsters?" said Ignatius Gallaher.
[2448]     
[2449]     Little Chandler blushed again.
[2450]     
[2451]     "We have one child," he said.
[2452]     
[2453]     "Son or daughter?"
[2454]     
[2455]     "A little boy."
[2456]     
[2457]     Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend sonorously on the back.
[2458]     
[2459]     "Bravo," he said, "I wouldn't doubt you, Tommy."
[2460]     
[2461]     Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his
[2462]     lower lip with three childishly white front teeth.
[2463]     
[2464]     "I hope you'll spend an evening with us," he said, "before you go
[2465]     back. My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little
[2466]     music and----"
[2467]     
[2468]     "Thanks awfully, old chap," said Ignatius Gallaher, "I'm sorry we
[2469]     didn't meet earlier. But I must leave tomorrow night."
[2470]     
[2471]     "Tonight, perhaps...?"
[2472]     
[2473]     "I'm awfully sorry, old man. You see I'm over here with another
[2474]     fellow, clever young chap he is too, and we arranged to go to a
[2475]     little card-party. Only for that..."
[2476]     
[2477]     "O, in that case..."
[2478]     
[2479]     "But who knows?" said Ignatius Gallaher considerately. "Next year
[2480]     I may take a little skip over here now that I've broken the ice. It's
[2481]     only a pleasure deferred."
[2482]     
[2483]     "Very well," said Little Chandler, "the next time you come we
[2484]     must have an evening together. That's agreed now, isn't it?"
[2485]     
[2486]     "Yes, that's agreed," said Ignatius Gallaher. "Next year if I come,
[2487]     parole d'honneur."
[2488]     
[2489]     "And to clinch the bargain," said Little Chandler, "we'll just have
[2490]     one more now."
[2491]     
[2492]     Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked a it.
[2493]     
[2494]     "Is it to be the last?" he said. "Because you know, I have an a.p."
[2495]     
[2496]     "O, yes, positively," said Little Chandler.
[2497]     
[2498]     "Very well, then," said Ignatius Gallaher, "let us have another one
[2499]     as a deoc an doruis--that's good vernacular for a small whisky, I
[2500]     believe."
[2501]     
[2502]     Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to
[2503]     his face a few moments before was establishing itself. A trifle
[2504]     made him blush at any time: and now he felt warm and excited.
[2505]     Three small whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher's strong
[2506]     cigar had confused his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent
[2507]     person. The adventure of meeting Gallaher after eight years, of
[2508]     finding himself with Gallaher in Corless's surrounded by lights and
[2509]     noise, of listening to Gallaher's stories and of sharing for a brief
[2510]     space Gallaher's vagrant and triumphant life, upset the equipoise of
[2511]     his sensitive nature. He felt acutely the contrast between his own
[2512]     life and his friend's and it seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his
[2513]     inferior in birth and education. He was sure that he could do
[2514]     something better than his friend had ever done, or could ever do,
[2515]     something higher than mere tawdry journalism if he only got the
[2516]     chance. What was it that stood in his way? His unfortunate timidity
[2517]     He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his
[2518]     manhood. He saw behind Gallaher's refusal of his invitation.
[2519]     Gallaher was only patronising him by his friendliness just as he
[2520]     was patronising Ireland by his visit.
[2521]     
[2522]     The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass
[2523]     towards his friend and took up the other boldly.
[2524]     
[2525]     "Who knows?" he said, as they lifted their glasses. "When you
[2526]     come next year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and
[2527]     happiness to Mr. and Mrs. Ignatius Gallaher."
[2528]     
[2529]     Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively
[2530]     over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips
[2531]     decisively, set down his glass and said:
[2532]     
[2533]     "No blooming fear of that, my boy. I'm going to have my fling first
[2534]     and see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack
[2535]     --if I ever do."
[2536]     
[2537]     "Some day you will," said Little Chandler calmly.
[2538]     
[2539]     Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full
[2540]     upon his friend.
[2541]     
[2542]     "You think so?" he said.
[2543]     
[2544]     "You'll put your head in the sack," repeated Little Chandler stoutly,
[2545]     "like everyone else if you can find the girl."
[2546]     
[2547]     He had slightly emphasised his tone and he was aware that he had
[2548]     betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his
[2549]     cheek, he did not flinch from his friend's gaze. Ignatius Gallaher
[2550]     watched him for a few moments and then said:
[2551]     
[2552]     "If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there'll be no
[2553]     mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She'll
[2554]     have a good fat account at the bank or she won't do for me."
[2555]     
[2556]     Little Chandler shook his head.
[2557]     
[2558]     "Why, man alive," said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, "do you
[2559]     know what it is? I've only to say the word and tomorrow I can have
[2560]     the woman and the cash. You don't believe it? Well, I know it.
[2561]     There are hundreds--what am I saying?--thousands of rich
[2562]     Germans and Jews, rotten with money, that'd only be too glad....
[2563]     You wait a while my boy. See if I don't play my cards properly.
[2564]     When I go about a thing I mean business, I tell you. You just wait."
[2565]     
[2566]     He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed
[2567]     loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a
[2568]     calmer tone:
[2569]     
[2570]     "But I'm in no hurry. They can wait. I don't fancy tying myself up
[2571]     to one woman, you know."
[2572]     
[2573]     He imitated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face.
[2574]     
[2575]     "Must get a bit stale, I should think," he said.
[2576]     
[2577]     Little Chandler sat in the room off the hall, holding a child in his
[2578]     arms. To save money they kept no servant but Annie's young sister
[2579]     Monica came for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so in
[2580]     the evening to help. But Monica had gone home long ago. It was a
[2581]     quarter to nine. Little Chandler had come home late for tea and,
[2582]     moreover, he had forgotten to bring Annie home the parcel of
[2583]     coffee from Bewley's. Of course she was in a bad humour and gave
[2584]     him short answers. She said she would do without any tea but
[2585]     when it came near the time at which the shop at the corner closed
[2586]     she decided to go out herself for a quarter of a pound of tea and
[2587]     two pounds of sugar. She put the sleeping child deftly in his arms
[2588]     and said:
[2589]     
[2590]     "Here. Don't waken him."
[2591]     
[2592]     A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its
[2593]     light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of
[2594]     crumpled horn. It was Annie's photograph. Little Chandler looked
[2595]     at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer
[2596]     blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday.
[2597]     It had cost him ten and elevenpence; but what an agony of
[2598]     nervousness it had cost him! How he had suffered that day, waiting
[2599]     at the shop door until the shop was empty, standing at the counter
[2600]     and trying to appear at his ease while the girl piled ladies' blouses
[2601]     before him, paying at the desk and forgetting to take up the odd
[2602]     penny of his change, being called back by the cashier, and finally,
[2603]     striving to hide his blushes as he left the shop by examining the
[2604]     parcel to see if it was securely tied. When he brought the blouse
[2605]     home Annie kissed him and said it was very pretty and stylish; but
[2606]     when she heard the price she threw the blouse on the table and said
[2607]     it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence for it. At
[2608]     first she wanted to take it back but when she tried it on she was
[2609]     delighted with it, especially with the make of the sleeves, and
[2610]     kissed him and said he was very good to think of her.
[2611]     
[2612]     Hm!...
[2613]     
[2614]     He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they
[2615]     answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was
[2616]     pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so
[2617]     unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated
[2618]     him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in
[2619]     them, no rapture. He thought of what Gallaher had said about rich
[2620]     Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he thought, how full they are
[2621]     of passion, of voluptuous longing!... Why had he married the eyes
[2622]     in the photograph?
[2623]     
[2624]     He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round
[2625]     the room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which
[2626]     he had bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen
[2627]     it herself and it reminded hi of her. It too was prim and pretty. A
[2628]     dull resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not
[2629]     escape from his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live
[2630]     bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the
[2631]     furniture still to be paid for. If he could only write a book and get
[2632]     it published, that might open the way for him.
[2633]     
[2634]     A volume of Byron's poems lay before him on the table. He opened
[2635]     it cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and
[2636]     began to read the first poem in the book:
[2637]     
[2638]     Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom,
[2639]     
[2640]     Not e'en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,
[2641]     
[2642]     Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb
[2643]     
[2644]     And scatter flowers on tbe dust I love.
[2645]     
[2646]     He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room.
[2647]     How melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the
[2648]     melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he
[2649]     wanted to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan
[2650]     Bridge, for example. If he could get back again into that mood....
[2651]     
[2652]     The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and
[2653]     tried to hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to
[2654]     and fro in his arms but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it
[2655]     faster while his eyes began to read the second stanza:
[2656]     
[2657]     Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
[2658]     
[2659]     That clay where once...
[2660]     
[2661]     It was useless. He couldn't read. He couldn't do anything. The
[2662]     wailing of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless,
[2663]     useless! He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger
[2664]     and suddenly bending to the child's face he shouted:
[2665]     
[2666]     "Stop!"
[2667]     
[2668]     The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began
[2669]     to scream. He jumped up from his chair and walked hastily up and
[2670]     down the room with the child in his arms. It began to sob
[2671]     piteously, losing its breath for four or five seconds, and then
[2672]     bursting out anew. The thin walls of the room echoed the sound.
[2673]     He tried to soothe it but it sobbed more convulsively. He looked at
[2674]     the contracted and quivering face of the child and began to be
[2675]     alarmed. He counted seven sobs without a break between them and
[2676]     caught the child to his breast in fright. If it died!...
[2677]     
[2678]     The door was burst open and a young woman ran in, panting.
[2679]     
[2680]     "What is it? What is it?" she cried.
[2681]     
[2682]     The child, hearing its mother's voice, broke out into a paroxysm of
[2683]     sobbing.
[2684]     
[2685]     "It's nothing, Annie ... it's nothing.... He began to cry..."
[2686]     
[2687]     She flung her parcels on the floor and snatched the child from him.
[2688]     
[2689]     "What have you done to him?" she cried, glaring into his face.
[2690]     
[2691]     Little Chandler sustained for one moment the gaze of her eyes and
[2692]     his heart closed together as he met the hatred in them. He began to
[2693]     stammer:
[2694]     
[2695]     "It's nothing.... He ... he began to cry.... I couldn't ... I didn't do
[2696]     anything.... What?"
[2697]     
[2698]     Giving no heed to him she began to walk up and down the room,
[2699]     clasping the child tightly in her arms and murmuring:
[2700]     
[2701]     "My little man! My little mannie! Was 'ou frightened, love?...
[2702]     There now, love! There now!... Lambabaun! Mamma's little lamb
[2703]     of the world!... There now!"
[2704]     
[2705]     Little Chandler felt his cheeks suffused with shame and he stood
[2706]     back out of the lamplight. He listened while the paroxysm of the
[2707]     child's sobbing grew less and less; and tears of remorse started to
[2708]     his eyes.
[2709]