List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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music and a very nice girl and, moreover, that she was a believer
in the language movement. Mrs. Kearney was well content at this.
Therefore she was not surprised when one day Mr. Holohan came
to her and proposed that her daughter should be the accompanist at
a series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give
in the Antient Concert Rooms. She brought him into the
drawing-room, made him sit down and brought out the decanter
and the silver biscuit-barrel. She entered heart and soul into the
details of the enterprise, advised and dissuaded: and finally a
contract was drawn up by which Kathleen was to receive eight
guineas for her services as accompanist at the four grand concerts. 

As Mr. Holohan was a novice in such delicate matters as the
wording of bills and the disposing of items for a programme, Mrs.
Kearney helped him. She had tact. She knew what artistes should
go into capitals and what artistes should go into small type. She
knew that the first tenor would not like to come on after Mr.
Meade's comic turn. To keep the audience continually diverted she
slipped the doubtful items in between the old favourites. Mr.
Holohan called to see her every day to have her advice on some
point. She was invariably friendly and advising -- homely, in fact.
She pushed the decanter towards him, saying: 

"Now, help yourself, Mr. Holohan!" 

And while he was helping himself she said: 

"Don't be afraid! Don t be afraid of it! " 

Everything went on smoothly. Mrs. Kearney bought some lovely
blush-pink charmeuse in Brown Thomas's to let into the front of
Kathleen's dress. It cost a pretty penny; but there are occasions
when a little expense is justifiable. She took a dozen of
two-shilling tickets for the final concert and sent them to those
friends who could not be trusted to come otherwise. She forgot
nothing, and, thanks to her, everything that was to be done was

The concerts were to be on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and
Saturday. When Mrs. Kearney arrived with her daughter at the
Antient Concert Rooms on Wednesday night she did not like the
look of things. A few young men, wearing bright blue badges in
their coats, stood idle in the vestibule; none of them wore evening
dress. She passed by with her daughter and a quick glance through
the open door of the hall showed her the cause of the stewards'
idleness. At first she wondered had she mistaken the hour. No, it
was twenty minutes to eight. 

In the dressing-room behind the stage she was introduced to the
secretary of the Society, Mr. Fitzpatrick. She smiled and shook his
hand. He was a little man, with a white, vacant face. She noticed
that he wore his soft brown hat carelessly on the side of his head
and that his accent was flat. He held a programme in his hand, and,
while he was talking to her, he chewed one end of it into a moist
pulp. He seemed to bear disappointments lightly. Mr. Holohan
came into the dressingroom every few minutes with reports from
the box- office. The artistes talked among themselves nervously,
glanced from time to time at the mirror and rolled and unrolled
their music. When it was nearly half-past eight, the few people in
the hall began to express their desire to be entertained. Mr.
Fitzpatrick came in, smiled vacantly at the room, and said: 

"Well now, ladies and gentlemen. I suppose we'd better open the

Mrs. Kearney rewarded his very flat final syllable with a quick
stare of contempt, and then said to her daughter encouragingly: 

"Are you ready, dear?" 

When she had an opportunity, she called Mr. Holohan aside and
asked him to tell her what it meant. Mr. Holohan did not know
what it meant. He said that the committee had made a mistake in
arranging for four concerts: four was too many. 

"And the artistes!" said Mrs. Kearney. "Of course they are doing
their best, but really they are not good." 

Mr. Holohan admitted that the artistes were no good but the
committee, he said, had decided to let the first three concerts go as
they pleased and reserve all the talent for Saturday night. Mrs.
Kearney said nothing, but, as the mediocre items followed one
another on the platform and the few people in the hall grew fewer
and fewer, she began to regret that she had put herself to any
expense for such a concert. There was something she didn't like in
the look of things and Mr. Fitzpatrick's vacant smile irritated her
very much. However, she said nothing and waited to see how it
would end. The concert expired shortly before ten, and everyone
went home quickly. 

The concert on Thursday night was better attended, but Mrs.
Kearney saw at once that the house was filled with paper. The
audience behaved indecorously, as if the concert were an informal
dress rehearsal. Mr. Fitzpatrick seemed to enjoy himself; he was
quite unconscious that Mrs. Kearney was taking angry note of his
conduct. He stood at the edge of the screen, from time to time
jutting out his head and exchanging a laugh with two friends in the
corner of the balcony. In the course of the evening, Mrs. Kearney
learned that the Friday concert was to be abandoned and that the
committee was going to move heaven and earth to secure a
bumper house on Saturday night. When she heard this, she sought
out Mr. Holohan. She buttonholed him as he was limping out
quickly with a glass of lemonade for a young lady and asked him
was it true. Yes. it was true. 

"But, of course, that doesn't alter the contract," she said. "The
contract was for four concerts." 

Mr. Holohan seemed to be in a hurry; he advised her to speak to
Mr. Fitzpatrick. Mrs. Kearney was now beginning to be alarmed.
She called Mr. Fitzpatrick away from his screen and told him that
her daughter had signed for four concerts and that, of course,
according to the terms of the contract, she should receive the sum
originally stipulated for, whether the society gave the four concerts
or not. Mr. Fitzpatrick, who did not catch the point at issue very
quickly, seemed unable to resolve the difficulty and said that he
would bring the matter before the committee. Mrs. Kearney's anger
began to flutter in her cheek and she had all she could do to keep
from asking: 

"And who is the Cometty pray?" 

But she knew that it would not be ladylike to do that: so she was

Little boys were sent out into the principal streets of Dublin early
on Friday morning with bundles of handbills. Special puffs
appeared in all the evening papers, reminding the music loving
public of the treat which was in store for it on the following
evening. Mrs. Kearney was somewhat reassured, but be thought
well to tell her husband part of her suspicions. He listened
carefully and said that perhaps it would be better if he went with
her on Saturday night. She agreed. She respected her husband in
the same way as she respected the General Post Office, as
something large, secure and fixed; and though she knew the small
number of his talents she appreciated his abstract value as a male.
She was glad that he had suggested coming with her. She thought
her plans over. 

The night of the grand concert came. Mrs. Kearney, with her
husband and daughter, arrived at the Antient Concert Rooms
three-quarters of an hour before the time at which the concert was
to begin. By ill luck it was a rainy evening. Mrs. Kearney placed
her daughter's clothes and music in charge of her husband and
went all over the building looking for Mr. Holohan or Mr.
Fitzpatrick. She could find neither. She asked the stewards was any
member of the committee in the hall and, after a great deal of
trouble, a steward brought out a little woman named Miss Beirne
to whom Mrs. Kearney explained that she wanted to see one of the
secretaries. Miss Beirne expected them any minute and asked
could she do anything. Mrs. Kearney looked searchingly at the
oldish face which was screwed into an expression of trustfulness
and enthusiasm and answered: 

"No, thank you!" 

The little woman hoped they would have a good house. She looked
out at the rain until the melancholy of the wet street effaced all the
trustfulness and enthusiasm from her twisted features. Then she
gave a little sigh and said: 

"Ah, well! We did our best, the dear knows." 

Mrs. Kearney had to go back to the dressing-room. 

The artistes were arriving. The bass and the second tenor had
already come. The bass, Mr. Duggan, was a slender young man
with a scattered black moustache. He was the son of a hall porter
in an office in the city and, as a boy, he had sung prolonged bass
notes in the resounding hall. From this humble state he had raised
himself until he had become a first-rate artiste. He had appeared in
grand opera. One night, when an operatic artiste had fallen ill, he
had undertaken the part of the king in the opera of Maritana at the
Queen's Theatre. He sang his music with great feeling and volume
and was warmly welcomed by the gallery; but, unfortunately, he
marred the good impression by wiping his nose in his gloved hand
once or twice out of thoughtlessness. He was unassuming and
spoke little. He said yous so softly that it passed unnoticed and he
never drank anything stronger than milk for his voice's sake. Mr.
Bell, the second tenor, was a fair-haired little man who competed
every year for prizes at the Feis Ceoil. On his fourth trial he had
been awarded a bronze medal. He was extremely nervous and
extremely jealous of other tenors and he covered his nervous
jealousy with an ebullient friendliness. It was his humour to have
people know what an ordeal a concert was to him. Therefore when
he saw Mr. Duggan he went over to him and asked: 

"Are you in it too? " 

"Yes," said Mr. Duggan. 

Mr. Bell laughed at his fellow-sufferer, held out his hand and said: 


Mrs. Kearney passed by these two young men and went to the edge
of the screen to view the house. The seats were being filled up
rapidly and a pleasant noise circulated in the auditorium. She came
back and spoke to her husband privately. Their conversation was
evidently about Kathleen for they both glanced at her often as she

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