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List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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She laughed herself this time good-humouredly and then added
quickly: 

"But tell him to come in, Mary Jane, and close the door. I hope to
goodness he didn't hear me." 

At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in
from the doorstep, laughing as if his heart would break. He was
dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and
collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap. He pointed down the
snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged
whistling was borne in. 

"Teddy will have all the cabs in Dublin out," he said. 

Gabriel advanced from the little pantry behind the office,
struggling into his overcoat and, looking round the hall, said: 

"Gretta not down yet?" 

"She's getting on her things, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate. 

"Who's playing up there?" asked Gabriel. 

"Nobody. They're all gone." 

"O no, Aunt Kate," said Mary Jane. "Bartell D'Arcy and Miss
O'Callaghan aren't gone yet." 

"Someone is fooling at the piano anyhow," said Gabriel. 

Mary Jane glanced at Gabriel and Mr. Browne and said with a
shiver: 

"It makes me feel cold to look at you two gentlemen muffled up
like that. I wouldn't like to face your journey home at this hour." 

"I'd like nothing better this minute," said Mr. Browne stoutly, "than
a rattling fine walk in the country or a fast drive with a good
spanking goer between the shafts." 

"We used to have a very good horse and trap at home," said Aunt
Julia sadly. 

"The never-to-be-forgotten Johnny," said Mary Jane, laughing. 

Aunt Kate and Gabriel laughed too. 

"Why, what was wonderful about Johnny?" asked Mr. Browne. 

"The late lamented Patrick Morkan, our grandfather, that is,"
explained Gabriel, "commonly known in his later years as the old
gentleman, was a glue-boiler." 

"O, now, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate, laughing, "he had a starch
mill." 

"Well, glue or starch," said Gabriel, "the old gentleman had a horse
by the name of Johnny. And Johnny used to work in the old
gentleman's mill, walking round and round in order to drive the
mill. That was all very well; but now comes the tragic part about
Johnny. One fine day the old gentleman thought he'd like to drive
out with the quality to a military review in the park." 

"The Lord have mercy on his soul," said Aunt Kate
compassionately. 

"Amen," said Gabriel. "So the old gentleman, as I said, harnessed
Johnny and put on his very best tall hat and his very best stock
collar and drove out in grand style from his ancestral mansion
somewhere near Back Lane, I think." 

Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Malins, at Gabriel's manner and Aunt
Kate said: 

"O, now, Gabriel, he didn't live in Back Lane, really. Only the mill
was there." 

"Out from the mansion of his forefathers," continued Gabriel, "he
drove with Johnny. And everything went on beautifully until
Johnny came in sight of King Billy's statue: and whether he fell in
love with the horse King Billy sits on or whether he thought he
was back again in the mill, anyhow he began to walk round the
statue." 

Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid the
laughter of the others. 

"Round and round he went," said Gabriel, "and the old gentleman,
who was a very pompous old gentleman, was highly indignant. 'Go
on, sir! What do you mean, sir? Johnny! Johnny! Most
extraordinary conduct! Can't understand the horse!" 

The peal of laughter which followed Gabriel's imitation of the
incident was interrupted by a resounding knock at the hall door.
Mary Jane ran to open it and let in Freddy Malins. Freddy Malins,
with his hat well back on his head and his shoulders humped with
cold, was puffing and steaming after his exertions. 

"I could only get one cab," he said. 

"O, we'll find another along the quay," said Gabriel. 

"Yes," said Aunt Kate. "Better not keep Mrs. Malins standing in
the draught." 

Mrs. Malins was helped down the front steps by her son and Mr.
Browne and, after many manoeuvres, hoisted into the cab. Freddy
Malins clambered in after her and spent a long time settling her on
the seat, Mr. Browne helping him with advice. At last she was
settled comfortably and Freddy Malins invited Mr. Browne into the
cab. There was a good deal of confused talk, and then Mr. Browne
got into the cab. The cabman settled his rug over his knees, and
bent down for the address. The confusion grew greater and the
cabman was directed differently by Freddy Malins and Mr.
Browne, each of whom had his head out through a window of the
cab. The difficulty was to know where to drop Mr. Browne along
the route, and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane helped the
discussion from the doorstep with cross-directions and
contradictions and abundance of laughter. As for Freddy Malins he
was speechless with laughter. He popped his head in and out of the
window every moment to the great danger of his hat, and told his
mother how the discussion was progressing, till at last Mr. Browne
shouted to the bewildered cabman above the din of everybody's
laughter: 

"Do you know Trinity College?" 

"Yes, sir," said the cabman. 

"Well, drive bang up against Trinity College gates," said Mr.
Browne, "and then we'll tell you where to go. You understand
now?" 

"Yes, sir," said the cabman. 

"Make like a bird for Trinity College." 

"Right, sir," said the cabman. 

The horse was whipped up and the cab rattled off along the quay
amid a chorus of laughter and adieus. 

Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a dark
part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing
near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not see
her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of
her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white. It was
his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something.
Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen
also. But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute
on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano and a few
notes of a man's voice singing. 

He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that
the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace
and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something.
He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the
shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a
painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would
show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark
panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he
would call the picture if he were a painter. 

The hall-door was closed; and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary
Jane came down the hall, still laughing. 

"Well, isn't Freddy terrible?" said Mary Jane. "He's really terrible." 

Gabriel said nothing but pointed up the stairs towards where his
wife was standing. Now that the hall-door was closed the voice
and the piano could be heard more clearly. Gabriel held up his
hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish
tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of
his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and by the singer's
hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words
expressing grief: 

O, the rain falls on my heavy locks
And the dew wets my skin,
My babe lies cold...

"O," exclaimed Mary Jane. "It's Bartell D'Arcy singing and he
wouldn't sing all the night. O, I'll get him to sing a song before he
goes." 

"O, do, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate. 

Mary Jane brushed past the others and ran to the staircase, but
before she reached it the singing stopped and the piano was closed
abruptly. 

"O, what a pity!" she cried. "Is he coming down, Gretta?" 

Gabriel heard his wife answer yes and saw her come down towards
them. A few steps behind her were Mr. Bartell D'Arcy and Miss
O'Callaghan. 

"O, Mr. D'Arcy," cried Mary Jane, "it's downright mean of you to
break off like that when we were all in raptures listening to you." 

"I have been at him all the evening," said Miss O'Callaghan, "and
Mrs. Conroy, too, and he told us he had a dreadful cold and
couldn't sing." 

"O, Mr. D'Arcy," said Aunt Kate, "now that was a great fib to tell." 

"Can't you see that I'm as hoarse as a crow?" said Mr. D'Arcy
roughly. 

He went into the pantry hastily and put on his overcoat. The others,
taken aback by his rude speech, could find nothing to say. Aunt
Kate wrinkled her brows and made signs to the others to drop the
subject. Mr. D'Arcy stood swathing his neck carefully and
frowning. 

"It's the weather," said Aunt Julia, after a pause. 

"Yes, everybody has colds," said Aunt Kate readily, "everybody." 

"They say," said Mary Jane, "we haven't had snow like it for thirty
years; and I read this morning in the newspapers that the snow is
general all over Ireland." 

"I love the look of snow," said Aunt Julia sadly. 

"So do I," said Miss O'Callaghan. "I think Christmas is never really
Christmas unless we have the snow on the ground." 

"But poor Mr. D'Arcy doesn't like the snow," said Aunt Kate,
smiling. 

Mr. D'Arcy came from the pantry, fully swathed and buttoned, and
in a repentant tone told them the history of his cold. Everyone gave
him advice and said it was a great pity and urged him to be very
careful of his throat in the night air. Gabriel watched his wife, who
did not join in the conversation. She was standing right under the
dusty fanlight and the flame of the gas lit up the rich bronze of her
hair, which he had seen her drying at the fire a few days before.
She was in the same attitude and seemed unaware of the talk about
her At last she turned towards them and Gabriel saw that there was
colour on her cheeks and that her eyes were shining. A sudden tide
of joy went leaping out of his heart. 

"Mr. D'Arcy," she said, "what is the name of that song you were
singing?" 

"It's called The Lass of Aughrim," said Mr. D'Arcy, "but I couldn't
remember it properly. Why? Do you know it?" 


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