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List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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were blunt. She had broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay
open in a contented leer, and two projecting front teeth. As he
passed Lenehan took off his cap and, after about ten seconds,
Corley returned a salute to the air. This he did by raising his hand
vaguely and pensively changing the angle of position of his hat. 

Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted
and waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming
towards him and, when they turned to the right, he followed them,
stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion
Square. As he walked on slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he
watched Corley's head which turned at every moment towards the
young woman's face like a big ball revolving on a pivot. He kept
the pair in view until he had seen them climbing the stairs of the
Donnybrook tram; then he turned about and went back the way he
had come. 

Now that he was alone his face looked older. His gaiety seemed to
forsake him and, as he came by the railings of the Duke's Lawn, he
allowed his hand to run along them. The air which the harpist had
played began to control his movements His softly padded feet
played the melody while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly
along the railings after each group of notes. 

He walked listlessly round Stephen's Green and then down Grafton
Street. Though his eyes took note of many elements of the crowd
through which he passed they did so morosely. He found trivial all
that was meant to charm him and did not answer the glances which
invited him to be bold. He knew that he would have to speak a
great deal, to invent and to amuse and his brain and throat were
too dry for such a task. The problem of how he could pass the
hours till he met Corley again troubled him a little. He could think
of no way of passing them but to keep on walking. He turned to the
left when he came to the corner of Rutland Square and felt more at
ease in the dark quiet street, the sombre look of which suited his
mood. He paused at last before the window of a poor-looking shop
over which the words Refreshment Bar were printed in white
letters. On the glass of the window were two flying inscriptions:
Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale. A cut ham was exposed on a great
blue dish while near it on a plate lay a segment of very light
plum-pudding. He eyed this food earnestly for some time and then,
after glancing warily up and down the street, went into the shop
quickly. 

He was hungry for, except some biscuits which he had asked two
grudging curates to bring him, he had eaten nothing since
breakfast-time. He sat down at an uncovered wooden table
opposite two work-girls and a mechanic. A slatternly girl waited
on him. 

"How much is a plate of peas?" he asked. 

"Three halfpence, sir," said the girl. 

"Bring me a plate of peas," he said, "and a bottle of ginger beer." 

He spoke roughly in order to belie his air of gentility for his entry
had been followed by a pause of talk. His face was heated. To
appear natural he pushed his cap back on his head and planted his
elbows on the table. The mechanic and the two work-girls
examined him point by point before resuming their conversation in
a subdued voice. The girl brought him a plate of grocer's hot peas,
seasoned with pepper and vinegar, a fork and his ginger beer. He
ate his food greedily and found it so good that he made a note of
the shop mentally. When he had eaten all the peas he sipped his
ginger beer and sat for some time thinking of Corley's adventure.
In his imagination he beheld the pair of lovers walking along some
dark road; he heard Corley's voice in deep energetic gallantries and
saw again the leer of the young woman's mouth. This vision made
him feel keenly his own poverty of purse and spirit. He was tired
of knocking about, of pulling the devil by the tail, of shifts and
intrigues. He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never
get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He
thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and
a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long
enough with friends and with girls. He knew what those friends
were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience had embittered his
heart against the world. But all hope had not left him. He felt
better after having eaten than he had felt before, less weary of his
life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to settle down
in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across
some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready. 

He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of
the shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street
and walked along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame
Street. At the corner of George's Street he met two friends of his
and stopped to converse with them. He was glad that he could rest
from all his walking. His friends asked him had he seen Corley and
what was the latest. He replied that he had spent the day with
Corley. His friends talked very little. They looked vacantly after
some figures in the crowd and sometimes made a critical remark.
One said that he had seen Mac an hour before in Westmoreland
Street. At this Lenehan said that he had been with Mac the night
before in Egan's. The young man who had seen Mac in
Westmoreland Street asked was it true that Mac had won a bit over
a billiard match. Lenehan did not know: he said that Holohan had
stood them drinks in Egan's. 

He left his friends at a quarter to ten and went up George's Street.
He turned to the left at the City Markets and walked on into
Grafton Street. The crowd of girls and young men had thinned and
on his way up the street he heard many groups and couples bidding
one another good-night. He went as far as the clock of the College
of Surgeons: it was on the stroke of ten. He set off briskly along
the northern side of the Green hurrying for fear Corley should
return too soon. When he reached the corner of Merrion Street he
took his stand in the shadow of a lamp and brought out one of the
cigarettes which he had reserved and lit it. He leaned against the
lamp-post and kept his gaze fixed on the part from which he
expected to see Corley and the young woman return. 

His mind became active again. He wondered had Corley managed
it successfully. He wondered if he had asked her yet or if he would
leave it to the last. He suffered all the pangs and thrills of his
friend's situation as well as those of his own. But the memory of
Corley's slowly revolving head calmed him somewhat: he was sure
Corley would pull it off all right. All at once the idea struck him
that perhaps Corley had seen her home by another way and given
him the slip. His eyes searched the street: there was no sign of
them. Yet it was surely half-an-hour since he had seen the clock of
the College of Surgeons. Would Corley do a thing like that? He lit
his last cigarette and began to smoke it nervously. He strained his
eyes as each tram stopped at the far corner of the square. They
must have gone home by another way. The paper of his cigarette
broke and he flung it into the road with a curse. 

Suddenly he saw them coming towards him. He started with
delight and keeping close to his lamp-post tried to read the result
in their walk. They were walking quickly, the young woman taking
quick short steps, while Corley kept beside her with his long stride.
They did not seem to be speaking. An intimation of the result
pricked him like the point of a sharp instrument. He knew Corley
would fail; he knew it was no go. 

They turned down Baggot Street and he followed them at once,
taking the other footpath. When they stopped he stopped too. They
talked for a few moments and then the young woman went down
the steps into the area of a house. Corley remained standing at the
edge of the path, a little distance from the front steps. Some
minutes passed. Then the hall-door was opened slowly and
cautiously. A woman came running down the front steps and
coughed. Corley turned and went towards her. His broad figure hid
hers from view for a few seconds and then she reappeared running
up the steps. The door closed on her and Corley began to walk
swiftly towards Stephen's Green. 

Lenehan hurried on in the same direction. Some drops of light rain
fell. He took them as a warning and, glancing back towards the
house which the young woman had entered to see that he was not
observed, he ran eagerly across the road. Anxiety and his swift run
made him pant. He called out: 

"Hallo, Corley!" 

Corley turned his head to see who had called him, and then
continued walking as before. Lenehan ran after him, settling the
waterproof on his shoulders with one hand. 

"Hallo, Corley!" he cried again. 

He came level with his friend and looked keenly in his face. He
could see nothing there. 

"Well?" he said. "Did it come off?" 

They had reached the corner of Ely Place. Still without answering,
Corley swerved to the left and went up the side street. His features
were composed in stern calm. Lenehan kept up with his friend,
breathing uneasily. He was baffled and a note of menace pierced
through his voice. 

"Can't you tell us?" he said. "Did you try her?" 

Corley halted at the first lamp and stared grimly before him. Then
with a grave gesture he extended a hand towards the light and,
smiling, opened it slowly to the gaze of his disciple. A small gold
coin shone in the palm. 

THE BOARDING HOUSE 

MRS. MOONEY was a butcher's daughter. She was a woman who
was quite able to keep things to herself: a determined woman. She
had married her father's foreman and opened a butcher's shop near
Spring Gardens. But as soon as his father-in-law was dead Mr.
Mooney began to go to the devil. He drank, plundered the till, ran
headlong into debt. It was no use making him take the pledge: he
was sure to break out again a few days after. By fighting his wife
in the presence of customers and by buying bad meat he ruined his
business. One night he went for his wife with the cleaver and she

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