List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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straight-laced, but he could not forget that Mr. M'Coy had recently
made a crusade in search of valises and portmanteaus to enable
Mrs. M'Coy to fulfil imaginary engagements in the country. More
than he resented the fact that he had been victimised he resented
such low playing of the game. He answered the question,
therefore, as if Mr. Kernan had asked it. 

The narrative made Mr. Kernan indignant. He was keenly
conscious of his citizenship, wished to live with his city on terms
mutually honourable and resented any affront put upon him by
those whom he called country bumpkins. 

"Is this what we pay rates for?" he asked. "To feed and clothe these
ignorant bostooms... and they're nothing else." 

Mr. Cunningham laughed. He was a Castle official only during
office hours. 

"How could they be anything else, Tom?" he said. 

He assumed a thick, provincial accent and said in a tone of

"65, catch your cabbage!" 

Everyone laughed. Mr. M'Coy, who wanted to enter the
conversation by any door, pretended that he had never heard the
story. Mr. Cunningham said: 

"It is supposed -- they say, you know -- to take place in the depot
where they get these thundering big country fellows, omadhauns,
you know, to drill. The sergeant makes them stand in a row against
the wall and hold up their plates." 

He illustrated the story by grotesque gestures. 

"At dinner, you know. Then he has a bloody big bowl of cabbage
before him on the table and a bloody big spoon like a shovel. He
takes up a wad of cabbage on the spoon and pegs it across the
room and the poor devils have to try and catch it on their plates:
65, catch your cabbage." 

Everyone laughed again: but Mr. Kernan was somewhat indignant
still. He talked of writing a letter to the papers. 

"These yahoos coming up here," he said, "think they can boss the
people. I needn't tell you, Martin, what kind of men they are." 

Mr. Cunningham gave a qualified assent. 

"It's like everything else in this world," he said. "You get some bad
ones and you get some good ones." 

"O yes, you get some good ones, I admit," said Mr. Kernan,

"It's better to have nothing to say to them," said Mr. M'Coy. "That's
my opinion!" 

Mrs. Kernan entered the room and, placing a tray on the table,

"Help yourselves, gentlemen." 

Mr. Power stood up to officiate, offering her his chair. She
declined it, saying she was ironing downstairs, and, after having
exchanged a nod with Mr. Cunningham behind Mr. Power's back,
prepared to leave the room. Her husband called out to her: 

"And have you nothing for me, duckie?" 

"O, you! The back of my hand to you!" said Mrs. Kernan tartly. 

Her husband called after her: 

"Nothing for poor little hubby!" 

He assumed such a comical face and voice that the distribution of
the bottles of stout took place amid general merriment. 

The gentlemen drank from their glasses, set the glasses again on
the table and paused. Then Mr. Cunningham turned towards Mr.
Power and said casually: 

"On Thursday night, you said, Jack " 

"Thursday, yes," said Mr. Power. 

"Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham promptly. 

"We can meet in M'Auley's," said Mr. M'Coy. "That'll be the most
convenient place." 

"But we mustn't be late," said Mr. Power earnestly, "because it is
sure to be crammed to the doors." 

"We can meet at half-seven," said Mr. M'Coy. 

"Righto!" said Mr. Cunningham. 

"Half-seven at M'Auley's be it!" 

There was a short silence. Mr. Kernan waited to see whether he
would be taken into his friends' confidence. Then he asked: 

"What's in the wind?" 

"O, it's nothing," said Mr. Cunningham. "It's only a little matter
that we're arranging about for Thursday." 

"The opera, is it?" said Mr. Kernan. 

"No, no," said Mr. Cunningham in an evasive tone, "it's just a
little... spiritual matter." 

"0," said Mr. Kernan. 

There was silence again. Then Mr. Power said, point blank: 

"To tell you the truth, Tom, we're going to make a retreat." 

"Yes, that's it," said Mr. Cunningham, "Jack and I and M'Coy here
-- we're all going to wash the pot." 

He uttered the metaphor with a certain homely energy and,
encouraged by his own voice, proceeded: 

"You see, we may as well all admit we're a nice collection of
scoundrels, one and all. I say, one and all," he added with gruff
charity and turning to Mr. Power. "Own up now!" 

"I own up," said Mr. Power. 

"And I own up," said Mr. M'Coy. 

"So we're going to wash the pot together," said Mr. Cunningham. 

A thought seemed to strike him. He turned suddenly to the invalid
and said: 

"D'ye know what, Tom, has just occurred to me? You night join in
and we'd have a four-handed reel." 

"Good idea," said Mr. Power. "The four of us together." 

Mr. Kernan was silent. The proposal conveyed very little meaning
to his mind, but, understanding that some spiritual agencies were
about to concern themselves on his behalf, he thought he owed it
to his dignity to show a stiff neck. He took no part in the
conversation for a long while, but listened, with an air of calm
enmity, while his friends discussed the Jesuits. 

"I haven't such a bad opinion of the Jesuits," he said, intervening at
length. "They're an educated order. I believe they mean well, too." 

"They're the grandest order in the Church, Tom," said Mr.
Cunningham, with enthusiasm. "The General of the Jesuits stands
next to the Pope." 

"There's no mistake about it," said Mr. M'Coy, "if you want a thing
well done and no flies about, you go to a Jesuit. They're the boyos
have influence. I'll tell you a case in point...." 

"The Jesuits are a fine body of men," said Mr. Power. 

"It's a curious thing," said Mr. Cunningham, "about the Jesuit
Order. Every other order of the Church had to be reformed at some
time or other but the Jesuit Order was never once reformed. It
never fell away." 

"Is that so?" asked Mr. M'Coy. 

"That's a fact," said Mr. Cunningham. "That's history." 

"Look at their church, too," said Mr. Power. "Look at the
congregation they have." 

"The Jesuits cater for the upper classes," said Mr. M'Coy. 

"Of course," said Mr. Power. 

"Yes," said Mr. Kernan. "That's why I have a feeling for them. It's
some of those secular priests, ignorant, bumptious----" 

"They're all good men," said Mr. Cunningham, "each in his own
way. The Irish priesthood is honoured all the world over." 

"O yes," said Mr. Power. 

"Not like some of the other priesthoods on the continent," said Mr.
M'Coy, "unworthy of the name." 

"Perhaps you're right," said Mr. Kernan, relenting. 

"Of course I'm right," said Mr. Cunningham. "I haven't been in the
world all this time and seen most sides of it without being a judge
of character." 

The gentlemen drank again, one following another's example. Mr.
Kernan seemed to be weighing something in his mind. He was
impressed. He had a high opinion of Mr. Cunningham as a judge
of character and as a reader of faces. He asked for particulars. 

"O, it's just a retreat, you know," said Mr. Cunningham. "Father
Purdon is giving it. It's for business men, you know." 

"He won't be too hard on us, Tom," said Mr. Power persuasively. 

"Father Purdon? Father Purdon?" said the invalid. 

"O, you must know him, Tom," said Mr. Cunningham stoutly.
"Fine, jolly fellow! He's a man of the world like ourselves." 

"Ah,... yes. I think I know him. Rather red face; tall." 

"That's the man." 

"And tell me, Martin.... Is he a good preacher?" 

"Munno.... It's not exactly a sermon, you know. It's just kind of a
friendly talk, you know, in a common-sense way." 

Mr. Kernan deliberated. Mr. M'Coy said: 

"Father Tom Burke, that was the boy!" 

"O, Father Tom Burke," said Mr. Cunningham, "that was a born
orator. Did you ever hear him, Tom?" 

"Did I ever hear him!" said the invalid, nettled. "Rather! I heard

"And yet they say he wasn't much of a theologian," said Mr

"Is that so?" said Mr. M'Coy. 

"O, of course, nothing wrong, you know. Only sometimes, they
say, he didn't preach what was quite orthodox." 

"Ah!... he was a splendid man," said Mr. M'Coy. 

"I heard him once," Mr. Kernan continued. "I forget the subject of
his discourse now. Crofton and I were in the back of the... pit, you
know... the----" 

"The body," said Mr. Cunningham. 

"Yes, in the back near the door. I forget now what.... O yes, it was
on the Pope, the late Pope. I remember it well. Upon my word it
was magnificent, the style of the oratory. And his voice! God!
hadn't he a voice! The Prisoner of the Vatican, he called him. I
remember Crofton saying to me when we came out----" 

"But he's an Orangeman, Crofton, isn't he?" said Mr. Power. 

"'Course he is," said Mr. Kernan, "and a damned decent
Orangeman too. We went into Butler's in Moore Street -- faith, was
genuinely moved, tell you the God's truth -- and I remember well
his very words. Kernan, he said, we worship at different altars, he
said, but our belief is the same. Struck me as very well put." 

"There's a good deal in that," said Mr. Power. "There used always
be crowds of Protestants in the chapel where Father Tom was

"There's not much difference between us," said Mr. M'Coy. 

"We both believe in----" 

He hesitated for a moment. 

"... in the Redeemer. Only they don't believe in the Pope and in the
mother of God." 

"But, of course," said Mr. Cunningham quietly and effectively,
"our religion is the religion, the old, original faith." 

"Not a doubt of it," said Mr. Kernan warmly. 

Mrs. Kernan came to the door of the bedroom and announced: 

"Here's a visitor for you!" 

"Who is it?" 

"Mr. Fogarty." 

"O, come in! come in!" 

A pale, oval face came forward into the light. The arch of its fair
trailing moustache was repeated in the fair eyebrows looped above
pleasantly astonished eyes. Mr. Fogarty was a modest grocer. He
had failed in business in a licensed house in the city because his
financial condition had constrained him to tie himself to
second-class distillers and brewers. He had opened a small shop on

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