List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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Henry Street. Here she was a long time in suiting herself and the
stylish young lady behind the counter, who was evidently a little
annoyed by her, asked her was it wedding-cake she wanted to buy.
That made Maria blush and smile at the young lady; but the young
lady took it all very seriously and finally cut a thick slice of
plumcake, parcelled it up and said: 

"Two-and-four, please." 

She thought she would have to stand in the Drumcondra tram
because none of the young men seemed to notice her but an elderly
gentleman made room for her. He was a stout gentleman and he
wore a brown hard hat; he had a square red face and a greyish
moustache. Maria thought he was a colonel-looking gentleman and
she reflected how much more polite he was than the young men
who simply stared straight before them. The gentleman began to
chat with her about Hallow Eve and the rainy weather. He
supposed the bag was full of good things for the little ones and
said it was only right that the youngsters should enjoy themselves
while they were young. Maria agreed with him and favoured him
with demure nods and hems. He was very nice with her, and when
she was getting out at the Canal Bridge she thanked him and
bowed, and he bowed to her and raised his hat and smiled
agreeably, and while she was going up along the terrace, bending
her tiny head under the rain, she thought how easy it was to know a
gentleman even when he has a drop taken. 

Everybody said: "0, here's Maria!" when she came to Joe's house.
Joe was there, having come home from business, and all the
children had their Sunday dresses on. There were two big girls in
from next door and games were going on. Maria gave the bag of
cakes to the eldest boy, Alphy, to divide and Mrs. Donnelly said it
was too good of her to bring such a big bag of cakes and made all
the children say: 

"Thanks, Maria." 

But Maria said she had brought something special for papa and
mamma, something they would be sure to like, and she began to
look for her plumcake. She tried in Downes's bag and then in the
pockets of her waterproof and then on the hallstand but nowhere
could she find it. Then she asked all the children had any of them
eaten it -- by mistake, of course -- but the children all said no and
looked as if they did not like to eat cakes if they were to be
accused of stealing. Everybody had a solution for the mystery and
Mrs. Donnelly said it was plain that Maria had left it behind her in
the tram. Maria, remembering how confused the gentleman with
the greyish moustache had made her, coloured with shame and
vexation and disappointment. At the thought of the failure of her
little surprise and of the two and fourpence she had thrown away
for nothing she nearly cried outright. 

But Joe said it didn't matter and made her sit down by the fire. He
was very nice with her. He told her all that went on in his office,
repeating for her a smart answer which he had made to the
manager. Maria did not understand why Joe laughed so much over
the answer he had made but she said that the manager must have
been a very overbearing person to deal with. Joe said he wasn't so
bad when you knew how to take him, that he was a decent sort so
long as you didn't rub him the wrong way. Mrs. Donnelly played
the piano for the children and they danced and sang. Then the two
next-door girls handed round the nuts. Nobody could find the
nutcrackers and Joe was nearly getting cross over it and asked how
did they expect Maria to crack nuts without a nutcracker. But
Maria said she didn't like nuts and that they weren't to bother about
her. Then Joe asked would she take a bottle of stout and Mrs.
Donnelly said there was port wine too in the house if she would
prefer that. Maria said she would rather they didn't ask her to take
anything: but Joe insisted. 

So Maria let him have his way and they sat by the fire talking over
old times and Maria thought she would put in a good word for
Alphy. But Joe cried that God might strike him stone dead if ever
he spoke a word to his brother again and Maria said she was sorry
she had mentioned the matter. Mrs. Donnelly told her husband it
was a great shame for him to speak that way of his own flesh and
blood but Joe said that Alphy was no brother of his and there was
nearly being a row on the head of it. But Joe said he would not
lose his temper on account of the night it was and asked his wife to
open some more stout. The two next-door girls had arranged some
Hallow Eve games and soon everything was merry again. Maria
was delighted to see the children so merry and Joe and his wife in
such good spirits. The next-door girls put some saucers on the
table and then led the children up to the table, blindfold. One got
the prayer-book and the other three got the water; and when one of
the next-door girls got the ring Mrs. Donnelly shook her finger at
the blushing girl as much as to say: 0, I know all about it! They
insisted then on blindfolding Maria and leading her up to the table
to see what she would get; and, while they were putting on the
bandage, Maria laughed and laughed again till the tip of her nose
nearly met the tip of her chin. 

They led her up to the table amid laughing and joking and she put
her hand out in the air as she was told to do. She moved her hand
about here and there in the air and descended on one of the
saucers. She felt a soft wet substance with her fingers and was
surprised that nobody spoke or took off her bandage. There was a
pause for a few seconds; and then a great deal of scuffling and
whispering. Somebody said something about the garden, and at
last Mrs. Donnelly said something very cross to one of the
next-door girls and told her to throw it out at once: that was no
play. Maria understood that it was wrong that time and so she had
to do it over again: and this time she got the prayer-book. 

After that Mrs. Donnelly played Miss McCloud's Reel for the
children and Joe made Maria take a glass of wine. Soon they were
all quite merry again and Mrs. Donnelly said Maria would enter a
convent before the year was out because she had got the
prayer-book. Maria had never seen Joe so nice to her as he was
that night, so full of pleasant talk and reminiscences. She said they
were all very good to her. 

At last the children grew tired and sleepy and Joe asked Maria
would she not sing some little song before she went, one of the old
songs. Mrs. Donnelly said "Do, please, Maria!" and so Maria had
to get up and stand beside the piano. Mrs. Donnelly bade the
children be quiet and listen to Maria's song. Then she played the
prelude and said "Now, Maria!" and Maria, blushing very much
began to sing in a tiny quavering voice. She sang I Dreamt that I
Dwelt, and when she came to the second verse she sang again: 

            I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls
              With vassals and serfs at my side,
            And of all who assembled within those walls
              That I was the hope and the pride.
            I had riches too great to count; could boast
              Of a high ancestral name,
            But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
              That you loved me still the same.

But no one tried to show her her mistake; and when she had ended
her song Joe was very much moved. He said that there was no time
like the long ago and no music for him like poor old Balfe,
whatever other people might say; and his eyes filled up so much
with tears that he could not find what he was looking for and in the
end he had to ask his wife to tell him where the corkscrew was. 


MR. JAMES DUFFY lived in Chapelizod because he wished to
live as far as possible from the city of which he was a citizen and
because he found all the other suburbs of Dublin mean, modern
and pretentious. He lived in an old sombre house and from his
windows he could look into the disused distillery or upwards along
the shallow river on which Dublin is built. The lofty walls of his
uncarpeted room were free from pictures. He had himself bought
every article of furniture in the room: a black iron bedstead, an
iron washstand, four cane chairs, a clothes- rack, a coal-scuttle, a
fender and irons and a square table on which lay a double desk. A
bookcase had been made in an alcove by means of shelves of
white wood. The bed was clothed with white bedclothes and a
black and scarlet rug covered the foot. A little hand-mirror hung
above the washstand and during the day a white-shaded lamp stood
as the sole ornament of the mantelpiece. The books on the white
wooden shelves were arranged from below upwards according to
bulk. A complete Wordsworth stood at one end of the lowest shelf
and a copy of the Maynooth Catechism, sewn into the cloth cover
of a notebook, stood at one end of the top shelf. Writing materials
were always on the desk. In the desk lay a manuscript translation
of Hauptmann's Michael Kramer, the stage directions of which
were written in purple ink, and a little sheaf of papers held
together by a brass pin. In these sheets a sentence was inscribed
from time to time and, in an ironical moment, the headline of an
advertisement for Bile Beans had been pasted on to the first sheet.
On lifting the lid of the desk a faint fragrance escaped -- the
fragrance of new cedarwood pencils or of a bottle of gum or of an
overripe apple which might have been left there and forgotten. 

Mr. Duffy abhorred anything which betokened physical or mental
disorder. A medival doctor would have called him saturnine. His
face, which carried the entire tale of his years, was of the brown
tint of Dublin streets. On his long and rather large head grew dry
black hair and a tawny moustache did not quite cover an
unamiable mouth. His cheekbones also gave his face a harsh
character; but there was no harshness in the eyes which, looking at
the world from under their tawny eyebrows, gave the impression of
a man ever alert to greet a redeeming instinct in others but often
disappointed. He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding
his own acts with doubtful side-glasses. He had an odd

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