List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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stood chatting to one of her Nationalist friends, Miss Healy, the
contralto. An unknown solitary woman with a pale face walked
through the room. The women followed with keen eyes the faded
blue dress which was stretched upon a meagre body. Someone said
that she was Madam Glynn, the soprano. 

"I wonder where did they dig her up," said Kathleen to Miss Healy.
"I'm sure I never heard of her." 

Miss Healy had to smile. Mr. Holohan limped into the
dressing-room at that moment and the two young ladies asked him
who was the unknown woman. Mr. Holohan said that she was
Madam Glynn from London. Madam Glynn took her stand in a
corner of the room, holding a roll of music stiffly before her and
from time to time changing the direction of her startled gaze. The
shadow took her faded dress into shelter but fell revengefully into
the little cup behind her collar-bone. The noise of the hall became
more audible. The first tenor and the baritone arrived together.
They were both well dressed, stout and complacent and they
brought a breath of opulence among the company. 

Mrs. Kearney brought her daughter over to them, and talked to
them amiably. She wanted to be on good terms with them but,
while she strove to be polite, her eyes followed Mr. Holohan in his
limping and devious courses. As soon as she could she excused
herself and went out after him. 

"Mr. Holohan, I want to speak to you for a moment," she said. 

They went down to a discreet part of the corridor. Mrs Kearney
asked him when was her daughter going to be paid. Mr. Holohan
said that Mr. Fitzpatrick had charge of that. Mrs. Kearney said that
she didn't know anything about Mr. Fitzpatrick. Her daughter had
signed a contract for eight guineas and she would have to be paid.
Mr. Holohan said that it wasn't his business. 

"Why isn't it your business?" asked Mrs. Kearney. "Didn't you
yourself bring her the contract? Anyway, if it's not your business
it's my business and I mean to see to it." 

"You'd better speak to Mr. Fitzpatrick," said Mr. Holohan

"I don't know anything about Mr. Fitzpatrick," repeated Mrs.
Kearney. "I have my contract, and I intend to see that it is carried

When she came back to the dressing-room her cheeks were slightly
suffused. The room was lively. Two men in outdoor dress had
taken possession of the fireplace and were chatting familiarly with
Miss Healy and the baritone. They were the Freeman man and Mr.
O'Madden Burke. The Freeman man had come in to say that he
could not wait for the concert as he had to report the lecture which
an American priest was giving in the Mansion House. He said they
were to leave the report for him at the Freeman office and he
would see that it went in. He was a grey-haired man, with a
plausible voice and careful manners. He held an extinguished cigar
in his hand and the aroma of cigar smoke floated near him. He had
not intended to stay a moment because concerts and artistes bored
him considerably but he remained leaning against the mantelpiece.
Miss Healy stood in front of him, talking and laughing. He was old
enough to suspect one reason for her politeness but young enough
in spirit to turn the moment to account. The warmth, fragrance and
colour of her body appealed to his senses. He was pleasantly
conscious that the bosom which he saw rise and fall slowly
beneath him rose and fell at that moment for him, that the laughter
and fragrance and wilful glances were his tribute. When he could
stay no longer he took leave of her regretfully. 

"O'Madden Burke will write the notice," he explained to Mr.
Holohan, "and I'll see it in." 

"Thank you very much, Mr. Hendrick," said Mr. Holohan. you'll
see it in, I know. Now, won't you have a little something before
you go?" 

"I don't mind," said Mr. Hendrick. 

The two men went along some tortuous passages and up a dark
staircase and came to a secluded room where one of the stewards
was uncorking bottles for a few gentlemen. One of these
gentlemen was Mr. O'Madden Burke, who had found out the room
by instinct. He was a suave, elderly man who balanced his
imposing body, when at rest, upon a large silk umbrella. His
magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which
he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely

While Mr. Holohan was entertaining the Freeman man Mrs.
Kearney was speaking so animatedly to her husband that he had to
ask her to lower her voice. The conversation of the others in the
dressing-room had become strained. Mr. Bell, the first item, stood
ready with his music but the accompanist made no sign. Evidently
something was wrong. Mr. Kearney looked straight before him,
stroking his beard, while Mrs. Kearney spoke into Kathleen's ear
with subdued emphasis. From the hall came sounds of
encouragement, clapping and stamping of feet. The first tenor and
the baritone and Miss Healy stood together, waiting tranquilly, but
Mr. Bell's nerves were greatly agitated because he was afraid the
audience would think that he had come late. 

Mr. Holohan and Mr. O'Madden Burke came into the room In a
moment Mr. Holohan perceived the hush. He went over to Mrs.
Kearney and spoke with her earnestly. While they were speaking
the noise in the hall grew louder. Mr. Holohan became very red
and excited. He spoke volubly, but Mrs. Kearney said curtly at

"She won't go on. She must get her eight guineas." 

Mr. Holohan pointed desperately towards the hall where the
audience was clapping and stamping. He appealed to Mr Kearney
and to Kathleen. But Mr. Kearney continued to stroke his beard
and Kathleen looked down, moving the point of her new shoe: it
was not her fault. Mrs. Kearney repeated: 

"She won't go on without her money." 

After a swift struggle of tongues Mr. Holohan hobbled out in haste.
The room was silent. When the strain of the silence had become
somewhat painful Miss Healy said to the baritone: 

"Have you seen Mrs. Pat Campbell this week?" 

The baritone had not seen her but he had been told that she was
very fine. The conversation went no further. The first tenor bent
his head and began to count the links of the gold chain which was
extended across his waist, smiling and humming random notes to
observe the effect on the frontal sinus. From time to time everyone
glanced at Mrs. Kearney. 

The noise in the auditorium had risen to a clamour when Mr.
Fitzpatrick burst into the room, followed by Mr. Holohan who was
panting. The clapping and stamping in the hall were punctuated by
whistling. Mr. Fitzpatrick held a few banknotes in his hand. He
counted out four into Mrs. Kearney's hand and said she would get
the other half at the interval. Mrs. Kearney said: 

"This is four shillings short." 

But Kathleen gathered in her skirt and said: "Now. Mr. Bell," to
the first item, who was shaking like an aspen. The singer and the
accompanist went out together. The noise in hall died away. There
was a pause of a few seconds: and then the piano was heard. 

The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam
Glynn's item. The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping
voice, with all the old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and
pronunciation which she believed lent elegance to her singing. She
looked as if she had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe
and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her high wailing
notes. The first tenor and the contralto, however, brought down the
house. Kathleen played a selection of Irish airs which was
generously applauded. The first part closed with a stirring patriotic
recitation delivered by a young lady who arranged amateur
theatricals. It was deservedly applauded; and, when it was ended,
the men went out for the interval, content. 

All this time the dressing-room was a hive of excitement. In one
corner were Mr. Holohan, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Miss Beirne, two of the
stewards, the baritone, the bass, and Mr. O'Madden Burke. Mr.
O'Madden Burke said it was the most scandalous exhibition he had
ever witnessed. Miss Kathleen Kearney's musical career was ended
in Dublin after that, he said. The baritone was asked what did he
think of Mrs. Kearney's conduct. He did not like to say anything.
He had been paid his money and wished to be at peace with men.
However, he said that Mrs. Kearney might have taken the artistes
into consideration. The stewards and the secretaries debated hotly
as to what should be done when the interval came. 

"I agree with Miss Beirne," said Mr. O'Madden Burke. "Pay her

In another corner of the room were Mrs. Kearney and he: husband,
Mr. Bell, Miss Healy and the young lady who had to recite the
patriotic piece. Mrs. Kearney said that the Committee had treated
her scandalously. She had spared neither trouble nor expense and
this was how she was repaid. 

They thought they had only a girl to deal with and that therefore,
they could ride roughshod over her. But she would show them
their mistake. They wouldn't have dared to have treated her like
that if she had been a man. But she would see that her daughter got
her rights: she wouldn't be fooled. If they didn't pay her to the last
farthing she would make Dublin ring. Of course she was sorry for
the sake of the artistes. But what else could she do? She appealed
to the second tenor who said he thought she had not been well
treated. Then she appealed to Miss Healy. Miss Healy wanted to
join the other group but she did not like to do so because she was a
great friend of Kathleen's and the Kearneys had often invited her to
their house. 

As soon as the first part was ended Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr.
Holohan went over to Mrs. Kearney and told her that the other four
guineas would be paid after the committee meeting on the
following Tuesday and that, in case her daughter did not play for
the second part, the committee would consider the contract broken
and would pay nothing. 

"I haven't seen any committee," said Mrs. Kearney angrily. "My
daughter has her contract. She will get four pounds eight into her
hand or a foot she won't put on that platform." 

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