List Of Contents | Contents of Dubliners, by James Joyce
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biscuit! " 

He became serious and silent when he had said this. His tongue
was tired for he had been talking all the afternoon in a
public-house in Dorset Street. Most people considered Lenehan a
leech but, in spite of this reputation, his adroitness and eloquence
had always prevented his friends from forming any general policy
against him. He had a brave manner of coming up to a party of
them in a bar and of holding himself nimbly at the borders of the
company until he was included in a round. He was a sporting
vagrant armed with a vast stock of stories, limericks and riddles.
He was insensitive to all kinds of discourtesy. No one knew how
he achieved the stern task of living, but his name was vaguely
associated with racing tissues. 

"And where did you pick her up, Corley?" he asked. 

Corley ran his tongue swiftly along his upper lip. 

"One night, man," he said, "I was going along Dame Street and I
spotted a fine tart under Waterhouse's clock and said good- night,
you know. So we went for a walk round by the canal and she told
me she was a slavey in a house in Baggot Street. I put my arm
round her and squeezed her a bit that night. Then next Sunday,
man, I met her by appointment. We vent out to Donnybrook and I
brought her into a field there. She told me she used to go with a
dairyman.... It was fine, man. Cigarettes every night she'd bring me
and paying the tram out and back. And one night she brought me
two bloody fine cigars -- O, the real cheese, you know, that the old
fellow used to smoke.... I was afraid, man, she'd get in the family
way. But she's up to the dodge." 

"Maybe she thinks you'll marry her," said Lenehan. 

"I told her I was out of a job," said Corley. "I told her I was in
Pim's. She doesn't know my name. I was too hairy to tell her that.
But she thinks I'm a bit of class, you know." 

Lenehan laughed again, noiselessly. 

"Of all the good ones ever I heard," he said, "that emphatically
takes the biscuit." 

Corley's stride acknowledged the compliment. The swing of his
burly body made his friend execute a few light skips from the path
to the roadway and back again. Corley was the son of an inspector
of police and he had inherited his father's frame and gut. He
walked with his hands by his sides, holding himself erect and
swaying his head from side to side. His head was large, globular
and oily; it sweated in all weathers; and his large round hat, set
upon it sideways, looked like a bulb which had grown out of
another. He always stared straight before him as if he were on
parade and, when he wished to gaze after someone in the street, it
was necessary for him to move his body from the hips. At present
he was about town. Whenever any job was vacant a friend was
always ready to give him the hard word. He was often to be seen
walking with policemen in plain clothes, talking earnestly. He
knew the inner side of all affairs and was fond of delivering final
judgments. He spoke without listening to the speech of his
companions. His conversation was mainly about himself what he
had said to such a person and what such a person had said to him
and what he had said to settle the matter. When he reported these
dialogues he aspirated the first letter of his name after the manner
of Florentines. 

Lenehan offered his friend a cigarette. As the two young men
walked on through the crowd Corley occasionally turned to smile
at some of the passing girls but Lenehan's gaze was fixed on the
large faint moon circled with a double halo. He watched earnestly
the passing of the grey web of twilight across its face. At length he

"Well... tell me, Corley, I suppose you'll be able to pull it off all
right, eh?" 

Corley closed one eye expressively as an answer. 

"Is she game for that?" asked Lenehan dubiously. "You can never
know women." 

"She's all right," said Corley. "I know the way to get around her,
man. She's a bit gone on me." 

"You're what I call a gay Lothario," said Lenehan. "And the proper
kind of a Lothario, too!" 

A shade of mockery relieved the servility of his manner. To save
himself he had the habit of leaving his flattery open to the
interpretation of raillery. But Corley had not a subtle mind. 

"There's nothing to touch a good slavey," he affirmed. "Take my
tip for it." 

"By one who has tried them all," said Lenehan. 

"First I used to go with girls, you know," said Corley, unbosoming;
"girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the
tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play
at the theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that
way. I used to spend money on them right enough," he added, in a
convincing tone, as if he was conscious of being disbelieved. 

But Lenehan could well believe it; he nodded gravely. 

"I know that game," he said, "and it's a mug's game." 

"And damn the thing I ever got out of it," said Corley. 

"Ditto here," said Lenehan. 

"Only off of one of them," said Corley. 

He moistened his upper lip by running his tongue along it. The
recollection brightened his eyes. He too gazed at the pale disc of
the moon, now nearly veiled, and seemed to meditate. 

She was... a bit of all right," he said regretfully. 

He was silent again. Then he added: 

"She's on the turf now. I saw her driving down Earl Street one
night with two fellows with her on a car." 

"I suppose that's your doing," said Lenehan. 

"There was others at her before me," said Corley philosophically. 

This time Lenehan was inclined to disbelieve. He shook his head
to and fro and smiled. 

"You know you can't kid me, Corley," he said. 

"Honest to God!" said Corley. "Didn't she tell me herself?" 

Lenehan made a tragic gesture. 

"Base betrayer!" he said. 

As they passed along the railings of Trinity College, Lenehan
skipped out into the road and peered up at the clock. 

"Twenty after," he said. 

"Time enough," said Corley. "She'll be there all right. I always let
her wait a bit." 

Lenehan laughed quietly. 

'Ecod! Corley, you know how to take them," he said. 

"I'm up to all their little tricks," Corley confessed. 

"But tell me," said Lenehan again, "are you sure you can bring it
off all right? You know it's a ticklish job. They're damn close on
that point. Eh? ... What?" 

His bright, small eyes searched his companion's face for
reassurance. Corley swung his head to and fro as if to toss aside an
insistent insect, and his brows gathered. 

"I'll pull it off," he said. "Leave it to me, can't you?" 

Lenehan said no more. He did not wish to ruffle his friend's
temper, to be sent to the devil and told that his advice was not
wanted. A little tact was necessary. But Corley's brow was soon
smooth again. His thoughts were running another way. 

"She's a fine decent tart," he said, with appreciation; "that's what
she is." 

They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare
Street. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the
roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the
wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of
each new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky.
His harp, too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her
knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her
master's hands. One hand played in the bass the melody of Silent,
O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each
group of notes. The notes of the air sounded deep and full. 

The two young men walked up the street without speaking, the
mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen's
Green they crossed the road. Here the noise of trams, the lights and
the crowd released them from their silence. 

"There she is!" said Corley. 

At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She
wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the
curbstone, swinging a sunshade in one hand. Lenehan grew lively. 

"Let's have a look at her, Corley," he said. 

Corley glanced sideways at his friend and an unpleasant grin
appeared on his face. 

"Are you trying to get inside me?" he asked. 

"Damn it!" said Lenehan boldly, "I don't want an introduction. All I
want is to have a look at her. I'm not going to eat her." 

"O ... A look at her?" said Corley, more amiably. "Well... I'll tell
you what. I'll go over and talk to her and you can pass by." 

"Right!" said Lenehan. 

Corley had already thrown one leg over the chains when Lenehan
called out: 

"And after? Where will we meet?" 

"Half ten," answered Corley, bringing over his other leg. 


"Corner of Merrion Street. We'll be coming back." 

"Work it all right now," said Lenehan in farewell. 

Corley did not answer. He sauntered across the road swaying his
head from side to side. His bulk, his easy pace, and the solid sound
of his boots had something of the conqueror in them. He
approached the young woman and, without saluting, began at once
to converse with her. She swung her umbrella more quickly and
executed half turns on her heels. Once or twice when he spoke to
her at close quarters she laughed and bent her head. 

Lenehan observed them for a few minutes. Then he walked rapidly
along beside the chains at some distance and crossed the road
obliquely. As he approached Hume Street corner he found the air
heavily scented and his eyes made a swift anxious scrutiny of the
young woman's appearance. She had her Sunday finery on. Her
blue serge skirt was held at the waist by a belt of black leather.
The great silver buckle of her belt seemed to depress the centre of
her body, catching the light stuff of her white blouse like a clip.
She wore a short black jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons and a
ragged black boa. The ends of her tulle collarette had been
carefully disordered and a big bunch of red flowers was pinned in
her bosom stems upwards. Lenehan's eyes noted approvingly her
stout short muscular body. rank rude health glowed in her face, on
her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features

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