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List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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"The Lass of Aughrim," she repeated. "I couldn't think of the
name." 

"It's a very nice air," said Mary Jane. "I'm sorry you were not in
voice tonight." 

"Now, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate, "don't annoy Mr. D'Arcy. I
won't have him annoyed." 

Seeing that all were ready to start she shepherded them to the door,
where good-night was said: 

"Well, good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks for the pleasant
evening." 

"Good-night, Gabriel. Good-night, Gretta!" 

"Good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks ever so much. Goodnight,
Aunt Julia." 

"O, good-night, Gretta, I didn't see you." 

"Good-night, Mr. D'Arcy. Good-night, Miss O'Callaghan." 

"Good-night, Miss Morkan." 

"Good-night, again." 

"Good-night, all. Safe home." 

"Good-night. Good night." 

The morning was still dark. A dull, yellow light brooded over the
houses and the river; and the sky seemed to be descending. It was
slushy underfoot; and only streaks and patches of snow lay on the
roofs, on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings. The
lamps were still burning redly in the murky air and, across the
river, the palace of the Four Courts stood out menacingly against
the heavy sky. 

She was walking on before him with Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, her shoes
in a brown parcel tucked under one arm and her hands holding her
skirt up from the slush. She had no longer any grace of attitude,
but Gabriel's eyes were still bright with happiness. The blood went
bounding along his veins; and the thoughts went rioting through
his brain, proud, joyful, tender, valorous. 

She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he
longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and
say something foolish and affectionate into her ear. She seemed to
him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and
then to be alone with her. Moments of their secret life together
burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope envelope was lying
beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand.
Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain
was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness.
They were standing on the crowded platform and he was placing a
ticket inside the warm palm of her glove. He was standing with her
in the cold, looking in through a grated window at a man making
bottles in a roaring furnace. It was very cold. Her face, fragrant in
the cold air, was quite close to his; and suddenly he called out to
the man at the furnace: 

"Is the fire hot, sir?" 

But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace. It was
just as well. He might have answered rudely. 

A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went
coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fire of
stars moments of their life together, that no one knew f or would
ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to
recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their
dull existence together and remember only their moments of
ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers.
Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched
all their souls' tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her
then he had said: "Why is it that words like these seem to me so
dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be
your name?" 

Like distant music these words that he had written years before
were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with
her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the
room in the hotel, then they would be alone together. He would
call her softly: 

"Gretta!" 

Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing.
Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and
look at him.... 

At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab. He was glad of
its rattling noise as it saved him from conversation. She was
looking out of the window and seemed tired. The others spoke
only a few words, pointing out some building or street. The horse
galloped along wearily under the murky morning sky, dragging his
old rattling box after his heels, and Gabriel was again in a cab with
her, galloping to catch the boat, galloping to their honeymoon. 

As the cab drove across O'Connell Bridge Miss O'Callaghan said: 

"They say you never cross O'Connell Bridge without seeing a
white horse." 

"I see a white man this time," said Gabriel. 

"Where?" asked Mr. Bartell D'Arcy. 

Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then
he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand. 

"Good-night, Dan," he said gaily. 

When the cab drew up before the hotel, Gabriel jumped out and, in
spite of Mr. Bartell D'Arcy's protest, paid the driver. He gave the
man a shilling over his fare. The man saluted and said: 

"A prosperous New Year to you, sir." 

"The same to you," said Gabriel cordially. 

She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and
while standing at the curbstone, bidding the others good- night.
She leaned lightly on his arm, as lightly as when she had danced
with him a few hours before. He had felt proud and happy then,
happy that she was his, proud of her grace and wifely carriage. But
now, after the kindling again of so many memories, the first touch
of her body, musical and strange and perfumed, sent through him a
keen pang of lust. Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm
closely to his side; and, as they stood at the hotel door, he felt that
they had escaped from their lives and duties, escaped from home
and friends and run away together with wild and radiant hearts to a
new adventure. 

An old man was dozing in a great hooded chair in the hall. He lit a
candle in the office and went before them to the stairs. They
followed him in silence, their feet falling in soft thuds on the
thickly carpeted stairs. She mounted the stairs behind the porter,
her head bowed in the ascent, her frail shoulders curved as with a
burden, her skirt girt tightly about her. He could have flung his
arms about her hips and held her still, for his arms were trembling
with desire to seize her and only the stress of his nails against the
palms of his hands held the wild impulse of his body in check. The
porter halted on the stairs to settle his guttering candle. They
halted, too, on the steps below him. In the silence Gabriel could
hear the falling of the molten wax into the tray and the thumping
of his own heart against his ribs. 

The porter led them along a corridor and opened a door. Then he
set his unstable candle down on a toilet-table and asked at what
hour they were to be called in the morning. 

"Eight," said Gabriel. 

The porter pointed to the tap of the electric-light and began a
muttered apology, but Gabriel cut him short. 

"We don't want any light. We have light enough from the street.
And I say," he added, pointing to the candle, "you might remove
that handsome article, like a good man." 

The porter took up his candle again, but slowly, for he was
surprised by such a novel idea. Then he mumbled good-night and
went out. Gabriel shot the lock to. 

A ghastly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from one
window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a couch
and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into
the street in order that his emotion might calm a little. Then he
turned and leaned against a chest of drawers with his back to the
light. She had taken off her hat and cloak and was standing before
a large swinging mirror, unhooking her waist. Gabriel paused for a
few moments, watching her, and then said: 

"Gretta! " 

She turned away from the mirror slowly and walked along the
shaft of light towards him. Her face looked so serious and weary
that the words would not pass Gabriel's lips. No, it was not the
moment yet. 

"You looked tired," he said. 

"I am a little," she answered. 

"You don't feel ill or weak?" 

"No, tired: that's all." 

She went on to the window and stood there, looking out. Gabriel
waited again and then, fearing that diffidence was about to
conquer him, he said abruptly: 

"By the way, Gretta!" 

"What is it?" 

"You know that poor fellow Malins?" he said quickly. 

"Yes. What about him?" 

"Well, poor fellow, he's a decent sort of chap, after all," continued
Gabriel in a false voice. "He gave me back that sovereign I lent
him, and I didn't expect it, really. It's a pity he wouldn't keep away
from that Browne, because he's not a bad fellow, really." 

He was trembling now with annoyance. Why did she seem so
abstracted? He did not know how he could begin. Was she
annoyed, too, about something? If she would only turn to him or
come to him of her own accord! To take her as she was would be
brutal. No, he must see some ardour in her eyes first. He longed to
be master of her strange mood. 

"When did you lend him the pound?" she asked, after a pause. 

Gabriel strove to restrain himself from breaking out into brutal
language about the sottish Malins and his pound. He longed to cry
to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster
her. But he said: 

"O, at Christmas, when he opened that little Christmas-card shop
in Henry Street." 

He was in such a fever of rage and desire that he did not hear her
come from the window. She stood before him for an instant,
looking at him strangely. Then, suddenly raising herself on tiptoe
and resting her hands lightly on his shoulders, she kissed him. 

"You are a very generous person, Gabriel," she said. 

Gabriel, trembling with delight at her sudden kiss and at the
quaintness of her phrase, put his hands on her hair and began
smoothing it back, scarcely touching it with his fingers. The
washing had made it fine and brilliant. His heart was brimming
over with happiness. Just when he was wishing for it she had come
to him of her own accord. Perhaps her thoughts had been running
with his. Perhaps she had felt the impetuous desire that was in
him, and then the yielding mood had come upon her. Now that she

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