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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[2712]     THE bell rang furiously and, when Miss Parker went to the tube, a
[2713]     furious voice called out in a piercing North of Ireland accent:
[2715]     "Send Farrington here!"
[2717]     Miss Parker returned to her machine, saying to a man who was
[2718]     writing at a desk:
[2720]     "Mr. Alleyne wants you upstairs."
[2722]     The man muttered "Blast him!" under his breath and pushed back
[2723]     his chair to stand up. When he stood up he was tall and of great
[2724]     bulk. He had a hanging face, dark wine-coloured, with fair
[2725]     eyebrows and moustache: his eyes bulged forward slightly and the
[2726]     whites of them were dirty. He lifted up the counter and, passing by
[2727]     the clients, went out of the office with a heavy step.
[2729]     He went heavily upstairs until he came to the second landing,
[2730]     where a door bore a brass plate with the inscription Mr. Alleyne.
[2731]     Here he halted, puffing with labour and vexation, and knocked.
[2732]     The shrill voice cried:
[2734]     "Come in!"
[2736]     The man entered Mr. Alleyne's room. Simultaneously Mr. Alleyne,
[2737]     a little man wearing gold-rimmed glasses on a cleanshaven face,
[2738]     shot his head up over a pile of documents. The head itself was so
[2739]     pink and hairless it seemed like a large egg reposing on the papers.
[2740]     Mr. Alleyne did not lose a moment:
[2742]     "Farrington? What is the meaning of this? Why have I always to
[2743]     complain of you? May I ask you why you haven't made a copy of
[2744]     that contract between Bodley and Kirwan? I told you it must be
[2745]     ready by four o'clock."
[2747]     "But Mr. Shelley said, sir----"
[2749]     "Mr. Shelley said, sir .... Kindly attend to what I say and not to
[2750]     what Mr. Shelley says, sir. You have always some excuse or
[2751]     another for shirking work. Let me tell you that if the contract is not
[2752]     copied before this evening I'll lay the matter before Mr. Crosbie....
[2753]     Do you hear me now?"
[2755]     "Yes, sir."
[2757]     "Do you hear me now?... Ay and another little matter! I might as
[2758]     well be talking to the wall as talking to you. Understand once for
[2759]     all that you get a half an hour for your lunch and not an hour and a
[2760]     half. How many courses do you want, I'd like to know.... Do you
[2761]     mind me now?"
[2763]     "Yes, sir."
[2765]     Mr. Alleyne bent his head again upon his pile of papers. The man
[2766]     stared fixedly at the polished skull which directed the affairs of
[2767]     Crosbie & Alleyne, gauging its fragility. A spasm of rage gripped
[2768]     his throat for a few moments and then passed, leaving after it a
[2769]     sharp sensation of thirst. The man recognised the sensation and felt
[2770]     that he must have a good night's drinking. The middle of the month
[2771]     was passed and, if he could get the copy done in time, Mr. Alleyne
[2772]     might give him an order on the cashier. He stood still, gazing
[2773]     fixedly at the head upon the pile of papers. Suddenly Mr. Alleyne
[2774]     began to upset all the papers, searching for something. Then, as if
[2775]     he had been unaware of the man's presence till that moment, he
[2776]     shot up his head again, saying:
[2778]     "Eh? Are you going to stand there all day? Upon my word,
[2779]     Farrington, you take things easy!"
[2781]     "I was waiting to see..."
[2783]     "Very good, you needn't wait to see. Go downstairs and do your
[2784]     work."
[2786]     The man walked heavily towards the door and, as he went out of
[2787]     the room, he heard Mr. Alleyne cry after him that if the contract
[2788]     was not copied by evening Mr. Crosbie would hear of the matter.
[2790]     He returned to his desk in the lower office and counted the sheets
[2791]     which remained to be copied. He took up his pen and dipped it in
[2792]     the ink but he continued to stare stupidly at the last words he had
[2793]     written: In no case shall the said Bernard Bodley be... The evening
[2794]     was falling and in a few minutes they would be lighting the gas:
[2795]     then he could write. He felt that he must slake the thirst in his
[2796]     throat. He stood up from his desk and, lifting the counter as before,
[2797]     passed out of the office. As he was passing out the chief clerk
[2798]     looked at him inquiringly.
[2800]     "It's all right, Mr. Shelley," said the man, pointing with his finger
[2801]     to indicate the objective of his journey.
[2803]     The chief clerk glanced at the hat-rack, but, seeing the row
[2804]     complete, offered no remark. As soon as he was on the landing the
[2805]     man pulled a shepherd's plaid cap out of his pocket, put it on his
[2806]     head and ran quickly down the rickety stairs. From the street door
[2807]     he walked on furtively on the inner side of the path towards the
[2808]     corner and all at once dived into a doorway. He was now safe in
[2809]     the dark snug of O'Neill's shop, and filling up the little window
[2810]     that looked into the bar with his inflamed face, the colour of dark
[2811]     wine or dark meat, he called out:
[2813]     "Here, Pat, give us a g.p.. like a good fellow."
[2815]     The curate brought him a glass of plain porter. The man drank it at
[2816]     a gulp and asked for a caraway seed. He put his penny on the
[2817]     counter and, leaving the curate to grope for it in the gloom,
[2818]     retreated out of the snug as furtively as he had entered it.
[2820]     Darkness, accompanied by a thick fog, was gaining upon the dusk
[2821]     of February and the lamps in Eustace Street had been lit. The man
[2822]     went up by the houses until he reached the door of the office,
[2823]     wondering whether he could finish his copy in time. On the stairs a
[2824]     moist pungent odour of perfumes saluted his nose: evidently Miss
[2825]     Delacour had come while he was out in O'Neill's. He crammed his
[2826]     cap back again into his pocket and re-entered the office, assuming
[2827]     an air of absentmindedness.
[2829]     "Mr. Alleyne has been calling for you," said the chief clerk
[2830]     severely. "Where were you?"
[2832]     The man glanced at the two clients who were standing at the
[2833]     counter as if to intimate that their presence prevented him from
[2834]     answering. As the clients were both male the chief clerk allowed
[2835]     himself a laugh.
[2837]     "I know that game," he said. "Five times in one day is a little bit...
[2838]     Well, you better look sharp and get a copy of our correspondence
[2839]     in the Delacour case for Mr. Alleyne."
[2841]     This address in the presence of the public, his run upstairs and the
[2842]     porter he had gulped down so hastily confused the man and, as he
[2843]     sat down at his desk to get what was required, he realised how
[2844]     hopeless was the task of finishing his copy of the contract before
[2845]     half past five. The dark damp night was coming and he longed to
[2846]     spend it in the bars, drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas
[2847]     and the clatter of glasses. He got out the Delacour correspondence
[2848]     and passed out of the office. He hoped Mr. Alleyne would not
[2849]     discover that the last two letters were missing.
[2851]     The moist pungent perfume lay all the way up to Mr. Alleyne's
[2852]     room. Miss Delacour was a middle-aged woman of Jewish
[2853]     appearance. Mr. Alleyne was said to be sweet on her or on her
[2854]     money. She came to the office often and stayed a long time when
[2855]     she came. She was sitting beside his desk now in an aroma of
[2856]     perfumes, smoothing the handle of her umbrella and nodding the
[2857]     great black feather in her hat. Mr. Alleyne had swivelled his chair
[2858]     round to face her and thrown his right foot jauntily upon his left
[2859]     knee. The man put the correspondence on the desk and bowed
[2860]     respectfully but neither Mr. Alleyne nor Miss Delacour took any
[2861]     notice of his bow. Mr. Alleyne tapped a finger on the
[2862]     correspondence and then flicked it towards him as if to say: "That's
[2863]     all right: you can go."
[2865]     The man returned to the lower office and sat down again at his
[2866]     desk. He stared intently at the incomplete phrase: In no case shall
[2867]     the said Bernard Bodley be... and thought how strange it was that
[2868]     the last three words began with the same letter. The chief clerk
[2869]     began to hurry Miss Parker, saying she would never have the
[2870]     letters typed in time for post. The man listened to the clicking of
[2871]     the machine for a few minutes and then set to work to finish his
[2872]     copy. But his head was not clear and his mind wandered away to
[2873]     the glare and rattle of the public-house. It was a night for hot
[2874]     punches. He struggled on with his copy, but when the clock struck
[2875]     five he had still fourteen pages to write. Blast it! He couldn't finish
[2876]     it in time. He longed to execrate aloud, to bring his fist down on
[2877]     something violently. He was so enraged that he wrote Bernard
[2878]     Bernard instead of Bernard Bodley and had to begin again on a
[2879]     clean sheet.
[2881]     He felt strong enough to clear out the whole office singlehanded.
[2882]     His body ached to do something, to rush out and revel in violence.
[2883]     All the indignities of his life enraged him.... Could he ask the
[2884]     cashier privately for an advance? No, the cashier was no good, no
[2885]     damn good: he wouldn't give an advance.... He knew where he
[2886]     would meet the boys: Leonard and O'Halloran and Nosey Flynn.
[2887]     The barometer of his emotional nature was set for a spell of riot.
[2889]     His imagination had so abstracted him that his name was called
[2890]     twice before he answered. Mr. Alleyne and Miss Delacour were
[2891]     standing outside the counter and all the clerks had turn round in
[2892]     anticipation of something. The man got up from his desk. Mr.
[2893]     Alleyne began a tirade of abuse, saying that two letters were
[2894]     missing. The man answered that he knew nothing about them, that
[2895]     he had made a faithful copy. The tirade continued: it was so bitter
[2896]     and violent that the man could hardly restrain his fist from
[2897]     descending upon the head of the manikin before him:
[2899]     "I know nothing about any other two letters," he said stupidly.
[2901]     "You--know--nothing. Of course you know nothing," said Mr.
[2902]     Alleyne. "Tell me," he added, glancing first for approval to the
[2903]     lady beside him, "do you take me for a fool? Do you think me an
[2904]     utter fool?"
[2906]     The man glanced from the lady's face to the little egg-shaped head
[2907]     and back again; and, almost before he was aware of it, his tongue
[2908]     had found a felicitous moment:
[2910]     "I don't think, sir," he said, "that that's a fair question to put to me."
[2912]     There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks. Everyone
[2913]     was astounded (the author of the witticism no less than his
[2914]     neighbours) and Miss Delacour, who was a stout amiable person,
[2915]     began to smile broadly. Mr. Alleyne flushed to the hue of a wild
[2916]     rose and his mouth twitched with a dwarf s passion. He shook his
[2917]     fist in the man's face till it seemed to vibrate like the knob of some
[2918]     electric machine:
[2920]     "You impertinent ruffian! You impertinent ruffian! I'll make short
[2921]     work of you! Wait till you see! You'll apologise to me for your
[2922]     impertinence or you'll quit the office instanter! You'll quit this, I'm
[2923]     telling you, or you'll apologise to me!"
[2929]     He stood in a doorway opposite the office watching to see if the
[2930]     cashier would come out alone. All the clerks passed out and finally
[2931]     the cashier came out with the chief clerk. It was no use trying to
[2932]     say a word to him when he was with the chief clerk. The man felt
[2933]     that his position was bad enough. He had been obliged to offer an
[2934]     abject apology to Mr. Alleyne for his impertinence but he knew
[2935]     what a hornet's nest the office would be for him. He could
[2936]     remember the way in which Mr. Alleyne had hounded little Peake
[2937]     out of the office in order to make room for his own nephew. He
[2938]     felt savage and thirsty and revengeful, annoyed with himself and
[2939]     with everyone else. Mr. Alleyne would never give him an hour's
[2940]     rest; his life would be a hell to him. He had made a proper fool of
[2941]     himself this time. Could he not keep his tongue in his cheek? But
[2942]     they had never pulled together from the first, he and Mr. Alleyne,
[2943]     ever since the day Mr. Alleyne had overheard him mimicking his
[2944]     North of Ireland accent to amuse Higgins and Miss Parker: that
[2945]     had been the beginning of it. He might have tried Higgins for the
[2946]     money, but sure Higgins never had anything for himself. A man
[2947]     with two establishments to keep up, of course he couldn't....
[2949]     He felt his great body again aching for the comfort of the
[2950]     public-house. The fog had begun to chill him and he wondered
[2951]     could he touch Pat in O'Neill's. He could not touch him for more
[2952]     than a bob--and a bob was no use. Yet he must get money
[2953]     somewhere or other: he had spent his last penny for the g.p. and
[2954]     soon it would be too late for getting money anywhere. Suddenly,
[2955]     as he was fingering his watch-chain, he thought of Terry Kelly's
[2956]     pawn-office in Fleet Street. That was the dart! Why didn't he think
[2957]     of it sooner?
[2959]     He went through the narrow alley of Temple Bar quickly,
[2960]     muttering to himself that they could all go to hell because he was
[2961]     going to have a good night of it. The clerk in Terry Kelly's said A
[2962]     crown! but the consignor held out for six shillings; and in the end
[2963]     the six shillings was allowed him literally. He came out of the
[2964]     pawn-office joyfully, making a little cylinder, of the coins between
[2965]     his thumb and fingers. In Westmoreland Street the footpaths were
[2966]     crowded with young men and women returning from business and
[2967]     ragged urchins ran here and there yelling out the names of the
[2968]     evening editions. The man passed through the crowd, looking on
[2969]     the spectacle generally with proud satisfaction and staring
[2970]     masterfully at the office-girls. His head was full of the noises of
[2971]     tram- gongs and swishing trolleys and his nose already sniffed the
[2972]     curling fumes punch. As he walked on he preconsidered the terms
[2973]     in which he would narrate the incident to the boys:
[2975]     "So, I just looked at him--coolly, you know, and looked at her.
[2976]     Then I looked back at him again--taking my time, you know. 'I
[2977]     don't think that that's a fair question to put to me,' says I."
[2979]     Nosey Flynn was sitting up in his usual corner of Davy Byrne's
[2980]     and, when he heard the story, he stood Farrington a half-one,
[2981]     saying it was as smart a thing as ever he heard. Farrington stood a
[2982]     drink in his turn. After a while O'Halloran and Paddy Leonard
[2983]     came in and the story was repeated to them. O'Halloran stood
[2984]     tailors of malt, hot, all round and told the story of the retort he had
[2985]     made to the chief clerk when he was in Callan's of Fownes's Street;
[2986]     but, as the retort was after the manner of the liberal shepherds in
[2987]     the eclogues, he had to admit that it was not as clever as
[2988]     Farrington's retort. At this Farrington told the boys to polish off
[2989]     that and have another.
[2991]     Just as they were naming their poisons who should come in but
[2992]     Higgins! Of course he had to join in with the others. The men
[2993]     asked him to give his version of it, and he did so with great
[2994]     vivacity for the sight of five small hot whiskies was very
[2995]     exhilarating. Everyone roared laughing when he showed the way in
[2996]     which Mr. Alleyne shook his fist in Farrington's face. Then he
[2997]     imitated Farrington, saying, "And here was my nabs, as cool as you
[2998]     please," while Farrington looked at the company out of his heavy
[2999]     dirty eyes, smiling and at times drawing forth stray drops of liquor
[3000]     from his moustache with the aid of his lower lip.
[3002]     When that round was over there was a pause. O'Halloran had
[3003]     money but neither of the other two seemed to have any; so the
[3004]     whole party left the shop somewhat regretfully. At the corner of
[3005]     Duke Street Higgins and Nosey Flynn bevelled off to the left while
[3006]     the other three turned back towards the city. Rain was drizzling
[3007]     down on the cold streets and, when they reached the Ballast
[3008]     Office, Farrington suggested the Scotch House. The bar was full of
[3009]     men and loud with the noise of tongues and glasses. The three men
[3010]     pushed past the whining matchsellers at the door and formed a
[3011]     little party at the corner of the counter. They began to exchange
[3012]     stories. Leonard introduced them to a young fellow named
[3013]     Weathers who was performing at the Tivoli as an acrobat and
[3014]     knockabout artiste. Farrington stood a drink all round. Weathers
[3015]     said he would take a small Irish and Apollinaris. Farrington, who
[3016]     had definite notions of what was what, asked the boys would they
[3017]     have an Apollinaris too; but the boys told Tim to make theirs hot.
[3018]     The talk became theatrical. O'Halloran stood a round and then
[3019]     Farrington stood another round, Weathers protesting that the
[3020]     hospitality was too Irish. He promised to get them in behind the
[3021]     scenes and introduce them to some nice girls. O'Halloran said that
[3022]     he and Leonard would go, but that Farrington wouldn't go because
[3023]     he was a married man; and Farrington's heavy dirty eyes leered at
[3024]     the company in token that he understood he was being chaffed.
[3025]     Weathers made them all have just one little tincture at his expense
[3026]     and promised to meet them later on at Mulligan's in Poolbeg
[3027]     Street.
[3029]     When the Scotch House closed they went round to Mulligan's.
[3030]     They went into the parlour at the back and O'Halloran ordered
[3031]     small hot specials all round. They were all beginning to feel
[3032]     mellow. Farrington was just standing another round when
[3033]     Weathers came back. Much to Farrington's relief he drank a glass
[3034]     of bitter this time. Funds were getting low but they had enough to
[3035]     keep them going. Presently two young women with big hats and a
[3036]     young man in a check suit came in and sat at a table close by.
[3037]     Weathers saluted them and told the company that they were out of
[3038]     the Tivoli. Farrington's eyes wandered at every moment in the
[3039]     direction of one of the young women. There was something
[3040]     striking in her appearance. An immense scarf of peacock-blue
[3041]     muslin was wound round her hat and knotted in a great bow under
[3042]     her chin; and she wore bright yellow gloves, reaching to the elbow.
[3043]     Farrington gazed admiringly at the plump arm which she moved
[3044]     very often and with much grace; and when, after a little time, she
[3045]     answered his gaze he admired still more her large dark brown eyes.
[3046]     The oblique staring expression in them fascinated him. She
[3047]     glanced at him once or twice and, when the party was leaving the
[3048]     room, she brushed against his chair and said "O, pardon!" in a
[3049]     London accent. He watched her leave the room in the hope that she
[3050]     would look back at him, but he was disappointed. He cursed his
[3051]     want of money and cursed all the rounds he had stood, particularly
[3052]     all the whiskies and Apolinaris which he had stood to Weathers. If
[3053]     there was one thing that he hated it was a sponge. He was so angry
[3054]     that he lost count of the conversation of his friends.
[3056]     When Paddy Leonard called him he found that they were talking
[3057]     about feats of strength. Weathers was showing his biceps muscle
[3058]     to the company and boasting so much that the other two had called
[3059]     on Farrington to uphold the national honour. Farrington pulled up
[3060]     his sleeve accordingly and showed his biceps muscle to the
[3061]     company. The two arms were examined and compared and finally
[3062]     it was agreed to have a trial of strength. The table was cleared and
[3063]     the two men rested their elbows on it, clasping hands. When Paddy
[3064]     Leonard said "Go!" each was to try to bring down the other's hand
[3065]     on to the table. Farrington looked very serious and determined.
[3067]     The trial began. After about thirty seconds Weathers brought his
[3068]     opponent's hand slowly down on to the table. Farrington's dark
[3069]     wine-coloured face flushed darker still with anger and humiliation
[3070]     at having been defeated by such a stripling.
[3072]     "You're not to put the weight of your body behind it. Play fair," he
[3073]     said.
[3075]     "Who's not playing fair?" said the other.
[3077]     "Come on again. The two best out of three."
[3079]     The trial began again. The veins stood out on Farrington's
[3080]     forehead, and the pallor of Weathers' complexion changed to
[3081]     peony. Their hands and arms trembled under the stress. After a
[3082]     long struggle Weathers again brought his opponent's hand slowly
[3083]     on to the table. There was a murmur of applause from the
[3084]     spectators. The curate, who was standing beside the table, nodded
[3085]     his red head towards the victor and said with stupid familiarity:
[3087]     "Ah! that's the knack!"
[3089]     "What the hell do you know about it?" said Farrington fiercely,
[3090]     turning on the man. "What do you put in your gab for?"
[3092]     "Sh, sh!" said O'Halloran, observing the violent expression of
[3093]     Farrington's face. "Pony up, boys. We'll have just one little smahan
[3094]     more and then we'll be off."
[3100]     A very sullen-faced man stood at the corner of O'Connell Bridge
[3101]     waiting for the little Sandymount tram to take him home. He was
[3102]     full of smouldering anger and revengefulness. He felt humiliated
[3103]     and discontented; he did not even feel drunk; and he had only
[3104]     twopence in his pocket. He cursed everything. He had done for
[3105]     himself in the office, pawned his watch, spent all his money; and
[3106]     he had not even got drunk. He began to feel thirsty again and he
[3107]     longed to be back again in the hot reeking public-house. He had
[3108]     lost his reputation as a strong man, having been defeated twice by
[3109]     a mere boy. His heart swelled with fury and, when he thought of
[3110]     the woman in the big hat who had brushed against him and said
[3111]     Pardon! his fury nearly choked him.
[3113]     His tram let him down at Shelbourne Road and he steered his great
[3114]     body along in the shadow of the wall of the barracks. He loathed
[3115]     returning to his home. When he went in by the side- door he found
[3116]     the kitchen empty and the kitchen fire nearly out. He bawled
[3117]     upstairs:
[3119]     "Ada! Ada!"
[3121]     His wife was a little sharp-faced woman who bullied her husband
[3122]     when he was sober and was bullied by him when he was drunk.
[3123]     They had five children. A little boy came running down the stairs.
[3125]     "Who is that?" said the man, peering through the darkness.
[3127]     "Me, pa."
[3129]     "Who are you? Charlie?"
[3131]     "No, pa. Tom."
[3133]     "Where's your mother?"
[3135]     "She's out at the chapel."
[3137]     "That's right.... Did she think of leaving any dinner for me?"
[3139]     "Yes, pa. I --"
[3141]     "Light the lamp. What do you mean by having the place in
[3142]     darkness? Are the other children in bed?"
[3144]     The man sat down heavily on one of the chairs while the little boy
[3145]     lit the lamp. He began to mimic his son's flat accent, saying half to
[3146]     himself: "At the chapel. At the chapel, if you please!" When the
[3147]     lamp was lit he banged his fist on the table and shouted:
[3149]     "What's for my dinner?"
[3151]     "I'm going... to cook it, pa," said the little boy.
[3153]     The man jumped up furiously and pointed to the fire.
[3155]     "On that fire! You let the fire out! By God, I'll teach you to do that
[3156]     again!"
[3158]     He took a step to the door and seized the walking-stick which was
[3159]     standing behind it.
[3161]     "I'll teach you to let the fire out!" he said, rolling up his sleeve in
[3162]     order to give his arm free play.
[3164]     The little boy cried "O, pa!" and ran whimpering round the table,
[3165]     but the man followed him and caught him by the coat. The little
[3166]     boy looked about him wildly but, seeing no way of escape, fell
[3167]     upon his knees.
[3169]     "Now, you'll let the fire out the next time!" said the man striking at
[3170]     him vigorously with the stick. "Take that, you little whelp!"
[3172]     The boy uttered a squeal of pain as the stick cut his thigh. He
[3173]     clasped his hands together in the air and his voice shook with
[3174]     fright.
[3176]     "O, pa!" he cried. "Don't beat me, pa! And I'll... I'll say a Hail Mary
[3177]     for you.... I'll say a Hail Mary for you, pa, if you don't beat me....
[3178]     I'll say a Hail Mary...."