Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


Little Chandler blushed and smiled. 

"Yes," he said. "I was married last May twelve months." 

"I hope it's not too late in the day to offer my best wishes," said
Ignatius Gallaher. "I didn't know your address or I'd have done so
at the time." 

He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took. 

"Well, Tommy," he said, "I wish you and yours every joy in life,
old chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot
you. And that's the wish of a sincere friend, an old friend. You
know that?" 

"I know that," said Little Chandler. 

"Any youngsters?" said Ignatius Gallaher. 

Little Chandler blushed again. 

"We have one child," he said. 

"Son or daughter?" 

"A little boy." 

Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend sonorously on the back. 

"Bravo," he said, "I wouldn't doubt you, Tommy." 

Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his
lower lip with three childishly white front teeth. 

"I hope you'll spend an evening with us," he said, "before you go
back. My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little
music and----" 

"Thanks awfully, old chap," said Ignatius Gallaher, "I'm sorry we
didn't meet earlier. But I must leave tomorrow night." 

"Tonight, perhaps...?" 

"I'm awfully sorry, old man. You see I'm over here with another
fellow, clever young chap he is too, and we arranged to go to a
little card-party. Only for that..." 

"O, in that case..." 

"But who knows?" said Ignatius Gallaher considerately. "Next year
I may take a little skip over here now that I've broken the ice. It's
only a pleasure deferred." 

"Very well," said Little Chandler, "the next time you come we
must have an evening together. That's agreed now, isn't it?" 

"Yes, that's agreed," said Ignatius Gallaher. "Next year if I come,
parole d'honneur." 

"And to clinch the bargain," said Little Chandler, "we'll just have
one more now." 

Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked a it. 

"Is it to be the last?" he said. "Because you know, I have an a.p." 

"O, yes, positively," said Little Chandler. 

"Very well, then," said Ignatius Gallaher, "let us have another one
as a deoc an doruis -- that's good vernacular for a small whisky, I
believe." 

Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to
his face a few moments before was establishing itself. A trifle
made him blush at any time: and now he felt warm and excited.
Three small whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher's strong
cigar had confused his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent
person. The adventure of meeting Gallaher after eight years, of
finding himself with Gallaher in Corless's surrounded by lights and
noise, of listening to Gallaher's stories and of sharing for a brief
space Gallaher's vagrant and triumphant life, upset the equipoise of
his sensitive nature. He felt acutely the contrast between his own
life and his friend's and it seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his
inferior in birth and education. He was sure that he could do
something better than his friend had ever done, or could ever do,
something higher than mere tawdry journalism if he only got the
chance. What was it that stood in his way? His unfortunate timidity
He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his
manhood. He saw behind Gallaher's refusal of his invitation.
Gallaher was only patronising him by his friendliness just as he
was patronising Ireland by his visit. 

The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass
towards his friend and took up the other boldly. 

"Who knows?" he said, as they lifted their glasses. "When you
come next year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and
happiness to Mr. and Mrs. Ignatius Gallaher." 

Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively
over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips
decisively, set down his glass and said: 

"No blooming fear of that, my boy. I'm going to have my fling first
and see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack
-- if I ever do." 

"Some day you will," said Little Chandler calmly. 

Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full
upon his friend. 

"You think so?" he said. 

"You'll put your head in the sack," repeated Little Chandler stoutly,
"like everyone else if you can find the girl." 

He had slightly emphasised his tone and he was aware that he had
betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his
cheek, he did not flinch from his friend's gaze. Ignatius Gallaher
watched him for a few moments and then said: 

"If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there'll be no
mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She'll
have a good fat account at the bank or she won't do for me." 

Little Chandler shook his head. 

"Why, man alive," said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, "do you
know what it is? I've only to say the word and tomorrow I can have
the woman and the cash. You don't believe it? Well, I know it.
There are hundreds -- what am I saying? -- thousands of rich
Germans and Jews, rotten with money, that'd only be too glad....
You wait a while my boy. See if I don't play my cards properly.
When I go about a thing I mean business, I tell you. You just wait." 

He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed
loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a
calmer tone: 

"But I'm in no hurry. They can wait. I don't fancy tying myself up
to one woman, you know." 

He imitated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face. 

"Must get a bit stale, I should think," he said. 

Little Chandler sat in the room off the hall, holding a child in his
arms. To save money they kept no servant but Annie's young sister
Monica came for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so in
the evening to help. But Monica had gone home long ago. It was a
quarter to nine. Little Chandler had come home late for tea and,
moreover, he had forgotten to bring Annie home the parcel of
coffee from Bewley's. Of course she was in a bad humour and gave
him short answers. She said she would do without any tea but
when it came near the time at which the shop at the corner closed
she decided to go out herself for a quarter of a pound of tea and
two pounds of sugar. She put the sleeping child deftly in his arms
and said: 

"Here. Don't waken him." 

A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its
light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of
crumpled horn. It was Annie's photograph. Little Chandler looked
at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer
blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday.
It had cost him ten and elevenpence; but what an agony of
nervousness it had cost him! How he had suffered that day, waiting
at the shop door until the shop was empty, standing at the counter
and trying to appear at his ease while the girl piled ladies' blouses
before him, paying at the desk and forgetting to take up the odd
penny of his change, being called back by the cashier, and finally,
striving to hide his blushes as he left the shop by examining the
parcel to see if it was securely tied. When he brought the blouse
home Annie kissed him and said it was very pretty and stylish; but
when she heard the price she threw the blouse on the table and said
it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence for it. At
first she wanted to take it back but when she tried it on she was
delighted with it, especially with the make of the sleeves, and
kissed him and said he was very good to think of her. 

Hm!... 

He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they
answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was
pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so
unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated
him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in
them, no rapture. He thought of what Gallaher had said about rich
Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he thought, how full they are
of passion, of voluptuous longing!... Why had he married the eyes
in the photograph? 

He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round
the room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which
he had bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen
it herself and it reminded hi of her. It too was prim and pretty. A
dull resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not
escape from his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live
bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the
furniture still to be paid for. If he could only write a book and get
it published, that might open the way for him. 

A volume of Byron's poems lay before him on the table. He opened
it cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and
began to read the first poem in the book: 

Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom, 

Not e'en a Zephyr wanders through the grove, 

Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb 

And scatter flowers on tbe dust I love. 

He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room.
How melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the
melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he
wanted to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan
Bridge, for example. If he could get back again into that mood.... 

The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and
tried to hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to
and fro in his arms but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it
faster while his eyes began to read the second stanza: 

Within this narrow cell reclines her clay, 

That clay where once... 

It was useless. He couldn't read. He couldn't do anything. The
wailing of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless,
useless! He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger
and suddenly bending to the child's face he shouted: 

"Stop!" 

The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com