List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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"I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Kearney," said Mr. Holohan. "I never
thought you would treat us this way." 

"And what way did you treat me?" asked Mrs. Kearney. 

Her face was inundated with an angry colour and she looked as if
she would attack someone with her hands. 

"I'm asking for my rights." she said. 

You might have some sense of decency," said Mr. Holohan. 

"Might I, indeed?... And when I ask when my daughter is going to
be paid I can't get a civil answer." 

She tossed her head and assumed a haughty voice: 

"You must speak to the secretary. It's not my business. I'm a great
fellow fol-the-diddle-I-do." 

"I thought you were a lady," said Mr. Holohan, walking away from
her abruptly. 

After that Mrs. Kearney's conduct was condemned on all hands:
everyone approved of what the committee had done. She stood at
the door, haggard with rage, arguing with her husband and
daughter, gesticulating with them. She waited until it was time for
the second part to begin in the hope that the secretaries would
approach her. But Miss Healy had kindly consented to play one or
two accompaniments. Mrs. Kearney had to stand aside to allow the
baritone and his accompanist to pass up to the platform. She stood
still for an instant like an angry stone image and, when the first
notes of the song struck her ear, she caught up her daughter's cloak
and said to her husband: 

"Get a cab!" 

He went out at once. Mrs. Kearney wrapped the cloak round her
daughter and followed him. As she passed through the doorway
she stopped and glared into Mr. Holohan's face. 

"I'm not done with you yet," she said. 

"But I'm done with you," said Mr. Holohan. 

Kathleen followed her mother meekly. Mr. Holohan began to pace
up and down the room, in order to cool himself for he his skin on

"That's a nice lady!" he said. "O, she's a nice lady!" 

You did the proper thing, Holohan," said Mr. O'Madden Burke,
poised upon his umbrella in approval. 


TWO GENTLEMEN who were in the lavatory at the time tried to
lift him up: but he was quite helpless. He lay curled up at the foot
of the stairs down which he had fallen. They succeeded in turning
him over. His hat had rolled a few yards away and his clothes were
smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain,
face downwards. His eyes were closed and he breathed with a
grunting noise. A thin stream of blood trickled from the corner of
his mouth. 

These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the
stairs and laid him down again on the floor of the bar. In two
minutes he was surrounded by a ring of men. The manager of the
bar asked everyone who he was and who was with him. No one
knew who he was but one of the curates said he had served the
gentleman with a small rum. 

"Was he by himself?" asked the manager. 

"No, sir. There was two gentlemen with him." 

"And where are they?" 

No one knew; a voice said: 

"Give him air. He's fainted." 

The ring of onlookers distended and closed again elastically. A
dark medal of blood had formed itself near the man's head on the
tessellated floor. The manager, alarmed by the grey pallor of the
man's face, sent for a policeman. 

His collar was unfastened and his necktie undone. He opened eyes
for an instant, sighed and closed them again. One of gentlemen
who had carried him upstairs held a dinged silk hat in his hand.
The manager asked repeatedly did no one know who the injured
man was or where had his friends gone. The door of the bar
opened and an immense constable entered. A crowd which had
followed him down the laneway collected outside the door,
struggling to look in through the glass panels. 

The manager at once began to narrate what he knew. The costable,
a young man with thick immobile features, listened. He moved his
head slowly to right and left and from the manager to the person
on the floor, as if he feared to be the victim some delusion. Then
he drew off his glove, produced a small book from his waist,
licked the lead of his pencil and made ready to indite. He asked in
a suspicious provincial accent: 

"Who is the man? What's his name and address?" 

A young man in a cycling-suit cleared his way through the ring of
bystanders. He knelt down promptly beside the injured man and
called for water. The constable knelt down also to help. The young
man washed the blood from the injured man's mouth and then
called for some brandy. The constable repeated the order in an
authoritative voice until a curate came running with the glass. The
brandy was forced down the man's throat. In a few seconds he
opened his eyes and looked about him. He looked at the circle of
faces and then, understanding, strove to rise to his feet. 

"You're all right now?" asked the young man in the cycling- suit. 

"Sha,'s nothing," said the injured man, trying to stand up. 

He was helped to his feet. The manager said something about a
hospital and some of the bystanders gave advice. The battered silk
hat was placed on the man's head. The constable asked: 

"Where do you live?" 

The man, without answering, began to twirl the ends of his
moustache. He made light of his accident. It was nothing, he said:
only a little accident. He spoke very thickly. 

"Where do you live" repeated the constable. 

The man said they were to get a cab for him. While the point was
being debated a tall agile gentleman of fair complexion, wearing a
long yellow ulster, came from the far end of the bar. Seeing the
spectacle, he called out: 

"Hallo, Tom, old man! What's the trouble?" 

"Sha,'s nothing," said the man. 

The new-comer surveyed the deplorable figure before him and
then turned to the constable, saying: 

"It's all right, constable. I'll see him home." 

The constable touched his helmet and answered: 

"All right, Mr. Power!" 

"Come now, Tom," said Mr. Power, taking his friend by the arm.
"No bones broken. What? Can you walk?" 

The young man in the cycling-suit took the man by the other arm
and the crowd divided. 

"How did you get yourself into this mess?" asked Mr. Power. 

"The gentleman fell down the stairs," said the young man. 

"I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir," said the injured man. 

"Not at all." 

"'ant we have a little...?" 

"Not now. Not now." 

The three men left the bar and the crowd sifted through the doors
in to the laneway. The manager brought the constable to the stairs
to inspect the scene of the accident. They agreed that the
gentleman must have missed his footing. The customers returned
to the counter and a curate set about removing the traces of blood
from the floor. 

When they came out into Grafton Street, Mr. Power whistled for
an outsider. The injured man said again as well as he could. 

"I' 'ery 'uch o'liged to you, sir. I hope we'll 'eet again. 'y na'e is

The shock and the incipient pain had partly sobered him. 

"Don't mention it," said the young man. 

They shook hands. Mr. Kernan was hoisted on to the car and,
while Mr. Power was giving directions to the carman, he expressed
his gratitude to the young man and regretted that they could not
have a little drink together. 

"Another time," said the young man. 

The car drove off towards Westmoreland Street. As it passed
Ballast Office the clock showed half-past nine. A keen east wind
hit them, blowing from the mouth of the river. Mr. Kernan was
huddled together with cold. His friend asked him to tell how the
accident had happened. 

"I'an't 'an," he answered, "'y 'ongue is hurt." 


The other leaned over the well of the car and peered into Mr.
Kernan's mouth but he could not see. He struck a match and,
sheltering it in the shell of his hands, peered again into the mouth
which Mr. Kernan opened obediently. The swaying movement of
the car brought the match to and from the opened mouth. The
lower teeth and gums were covered with clotted blood and a
minute piece of the tongue seemed to have been bitten off. The
match was blown out. 

"That's ugly," said Mr. Power. 

"Sha, 's nothing," said Mr. Kernan, closing his mouth and pulling
the collar of his filthy coat across his neck. 

Mr. Kernan was a commercial traveller of the old school which
believed in the dignity of its calling. He had never been seen in the
city without a silk hat of some decency and a pair of gaiters. By
grace of these two articles of clothing, he said, a man could always
pass muster. He carried on the tradition of his Napoleon, the great
Blackwhite, whose memory he evoked at times by legend and
mimicry. Modern business methods had spared him only so far as
to allow him a little office in Crowe Street, on the window blind of
which was written the name of his firm with the address -- London,
E. C. On the mantelpiece of this little office a little leaden
battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table before the
window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half
full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea. He
took a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then
spat it forth into the grate. Then he paused to judge. 

Mr. Power, a much younger man, was employed in the Royal Irish
Constabulary Office in Dublin Castle. The arc of his social rise
intersected the arc of his friend's decline, but Mr. Kernan's decline
was mitigated by the fact that certain of those friends who had
known him at his highest point of success still esteemed him as a
character. Mr. Power was one of these friends. His inexplicable
debts were a byword in his circle; he was a debonair young man. 

The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr.
Kernan was helped into the house. His wife put him to bed while
Mr. Power sat downstairs in the kitchen asking the children where
they went to school and what book they were in. The children --
two girls and a boy, conscious of their father helplessness and of
their mother's absence, began some horseplay with him. He was
surprised at their manners and at their accents, and his brow grew
thoughtful. After a while Mrs. Kernan entered the kitchen,

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