Eight years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and
wished him godspeed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once
by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few
fellows had talents like his and fewer still could remain unspoiled by
such success. Gallaher’s heart was in the right place and he had
deserved to win. It was something to have a friend like that.
Little Chandler’s thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his
meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher’s invitation and of the great city
London where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler because,
though he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave one the
idea of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame
was fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took
the greatest care of his fair silken hair and moustache and used
perfume discreetly on his handkerchief. The half-moons of his nails
were perfect and when he smiled you caught a glimpse of a row of
childish white teeth.
As he sat at his desk in the King’s Inns he thought what changes those
eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby
and necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure on the London
Press. He turned often from his tiresome writing to gaze out of the
office window. The glow of a late autumn sunset covered the grass plots
and walks. It cast a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses
and decrepit old men who drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all
the moving figures—on the children who ran screaming along the gravel
paths and on everyone who passed through the gardens. He watched the
scene and thought of life; and (as always happened when he thought of
life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He
felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the
burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had
bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in the
little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from the
bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always
held him back; and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times
he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.
When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk and of
his fellow-clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the feudal arch
of the King’s Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked swiftly down
Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and the air had grown
sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood or
ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or
squatted like mice upon the thresholds. Little Chandler gave them no
thought. He picked his way deftly through all that minute vermin-like
life and under the shadow of the gaunt spectral mansions in which the
old nobility of Dublin had roystered. No memory of the past touched
him, for his mind was full of a present joy.
He had never been in Corless’s but he knew the value of the name. He
knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and drink
liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke French and
German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs drawn up before
the door and richly dressed ladies, escorted by cavaliers, alight and
enter quickly. They wore noisy dresses and many wraps. Their faces were
powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth,
like alarmed Atalantas. He had always passed without turning his head
to look. It was his habit to walk swiftly in the street even by day and
whenever he found himself in the city late at night he hurried on his
way apprehensively and excitedly. Sometimes, however, he courted the
causes of his fear. He chose the darkest and narrowest streets and, as
he walked boldly forward, the silence that was spread about his
footsteps troubled him, the wandering silent figures troubled him; and
at times a sound of low fugitive laughter made him tremble like a leaf.
He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the
London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before?
Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember
many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that
Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of
fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In
the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money
transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody
denied him talent. There was always a certain … something in Ignatius
Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out
at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he kept up a bold face. Little
Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of
pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a
“Half time now, boys,” he used to say light-heartedly. “Where’s my
That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn’t but
admire him for it.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he
felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his
soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no
doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could
do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the
river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses. They
seemed to him a band of tramps, huddled together along the riverbanks,
their old coats covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the panorama
of sunset and waiting for the first chill of night bid them arise,
shake themselves and begone. He wondered whether he could write a poem
to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some
London paper for him. Could he write something original? He was not
sure what idea he wished to express but the thought that a poetic
moment had touched him took life within him like an infant hope. He
stepped onward bravely.
Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own sober
inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his mind.
He was not so old—thirty-two. His temperament might be said to be just
at the point of maturity. There were so many different moods and
impressions that he wished to express in verse. He felt them within
him. He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet’s soul.
Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it
was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and
simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems
perhaps men would listen. He would never be popular: he saw that. He
could not sway the crowd but he might appeal to a little circle of
kindred minds. The English critics, perhaps, would recognise him as one
of the Celtic school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems;
besides that, he would put in allusions. He began to invent sentences
and phrases from the notice which his book would get. _“Mr Chandler has
the gift of easy and graceful verse.” … “A wistful sadness pervades
these poems.” … “The Celtic note.”_ It was a pity his name was not
more Irish-looking. Perhaps it would be better to insert his mother’s
name before the surname: Thomas Malone Chandler, or better still: T.
Malone Chandler. He would speak to Gallaher about it.
He pursued his revery so ardently that he passed his street and had to
turn back. As he came near Corless’s his former agitation began to
overmaster him and he halted before the door in indecision. Finally he
opened the door and entered.
The light and noise of the bar held him at the doorways for a few
moments. He looked about him, but his sight was confused by the shining
of many red and green wine-glasses. The bar seemed to him to be full of
people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. He
glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to make his errand
appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody
had turned to look at him: and there, sure enough, was Ignatius
Gallaher leaning with his back against the counter and his feet planted
“Hallo, Tommy, old hero, here you are! What is it to be? What will you
have? I’m taking whisky: better stuff than we get across the water.
Soda? Lithia? No mineral? I’m the same. Spoils the flavour…. Here,
_garçon_, bring us two halves of malt whisky, like a good fellow….
Well, and how have you been pulling along since I saw you last? Dear
God, how old we’re getting! Do you see any signs of aging in me—eh,
what? A little grey and thin on the top—what?”
Ignatius Gallaher took off his hat and displayed a large closely
cropped head. His face was heavy, pale and clean-shaven. His eyes,
which were of bluish slate-colour, relieved his unhealthy pallor and
shone out plainly above the vivid orange tie he wore. Between these
rival features the lips appeared very long and shapeless and
colourless. He bent his head and felt with two sympathetic fingers the
thin hair at the crown. Little Chandler shook his head as a denial.
Ignatius Galaher put on his hat again.
“It pulls you down,” he said. “Press life. Always hurry and scurry,
looking for copy and sometimes not finding it: and then, always to have
something new in your stuff. Damn proofs and printers, I say, for a few
days. I’m deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the old country.
Does a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton better since I
landed again in dear dirty Dublin…. Here you are, Tommy. Water? Say
Little Chandler allowed his whisky to be very much diluted.
“You don’t know what’s good for you, my boy,” said Ignatius Gallaher.
“I drink mine neat.”
“I drink very little as a rule,” said Little Chandler modestly. “An odd
half-one or so when I meet any of the old crowd: that’s all.”
“Ah, well,” said Ignatius Gallaher, cheerfully, “here’s to us and to
old times and old acquaintance.”
They clinked glasses and drank the toast.
“I met some of the old gang today,” said Ignatius Gallaher. “O’Hara
seems to be in a bad way. What’s he doing?”
“Nothing,” said Little Chandler. “He’s gone to the dogs.”
“But Hogan has a good sit, hasn’t he?”
“Yes; he’s in the Land Commission.”
“I met him one night in London and he seemed to be very flush…. Poor
O’Hara! Boose, I suppose?”
“Other things, too,” said Little Chandler shortly.
Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
“Tommy,” he said, “I see you haven’t changed an atom. You’re the very
same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday mornings when I
had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You’d want to knock about a bit
in the world. Have you never been anywhere even for a trip?”
“I’ve been to the Isle of Man,” said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
“The Isle of Man!” he said. “Go to London or Paris: Paris, for choice.
That’d do you good.”
“Have you seen Paris?”
“I should think I have! I’ve knocked about there a little.”
“And is it really so beautiful as they say?” asked Little Chandler.
He sipped a little of his drink while Ignatius Gallaher finished his
“Beautiful?” said Ignatius Gallaher, pausing on the word and on the
flavour of his drink. “It’s not so beautiful, you know. Of course, it
is beautiful…. But it’s the life of Paris; that’s the thing. Ah,
there’s no city like Paris for gaiety, movement, excitement….”
Little Chandler finished his whisky and, after some trouble, succeeded
in catching the barman’s eye. He ordered the same again.
“I’ve been to the Moulin Rouge,” Ignatius Gallaher continued when the
barman had removed their glasses, “and I’ve been to all the Bohemian
cafés. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap like you, Tommy.”
Little Chandler said nothing until the barman returned with two
glasses: then he touched his friend’s glass lightly and reciprocated
the former toast. He was beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned.
Gallaher’s accent and way of expressing himself did not please him.
There was something vulgar in his friend which he had not observed
before. But perhaps it was only the result of living in London amid the
bustle and competition of the Press. The old personal charm was still
there under this new gaudy manner. And, after all, Gallaher had lived,
he had seen the world. Little Chandler looked at his friend enviously.
“Everything in Paris is gay,” said Ignatius Gallaher. “They believe in
enjoying life—and don’t you think they’re right? If you want to enjoy
yourself properly you must go to Paris. And, mind you, they’ve a great
feeling for the Irish there. When they heard I was from Ireland they
were ready to eat me, man.”
Little Chandler took four or five sips from his glass.
“Tell me,” he said, “is it true that Paris is so … immoral as they
Ignatius Gallaher made a catholic gesture with his right arm.
“Every place is immoral,” he said. “Of course you do find spicy bits in
Paris. Go to one of the students’ balls, for instance. That’s lively,
if you like, when the _cocottes_ begin to let themselves loose. You
know what they are, I suppose?”
“I’ve heard of them,” said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher drank off his whisky and shook his head.
“Ah,” he said, “you may say what you like. There’s no woman like the
Parisienne—for style, for go.”
“Then it is an immoral city,” said Little Chandler, with timid
insistence—“I mean, compared with London or Dublin?”
“London!” said Ignatius Gallaher. “It’s six of one and half-a-dozen of
the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when
he was over there. He’d open your eye…. I say, Tommy, don’t make
punch of that whisky: liquor up.”
“O, come on, another one won’t do you any harm. What is it? The same
again, I suppose?”
“Well … all right.”
“_François_, the same again…. Will you smoke, Tommy?”
Ignatius Gallaher produced his cigar-case. The two friends lit their
cigars and puffed at them in silence until their drinks were served.
“I’ll tell you my opinion,” said Ignatius Gallaher, emerging after some
time from the clouds of smoke in which he had taken refuge, “it’s a rum
world. Talk of immorality! I’ve heard of cases—what am I saying?—I’ve
known them: cases of … immorality….”
Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a calm
historian’s tone, he proceeded to sketch for his friend some pictures
of the corruption which was rife abroad. He summarised the vices of
many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin. Some
things he could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of others
he had had personal experience. He spared neither rank nor caste. He
revealed many of the secrets of religious houses on the Continent and
described some of the practices which were fashionable in high society
and ended by telling, with details, a story about an English duchess—a
story which he knew to be true. Little Chandler was astonished.
“Ah, well,” said Ignatius Gallaher, “here we are in old jog-along
Dublin where nothing is known of such things.”
“How dull you must find it,” said Little Chandler, “after all the other
places you’ve seen!”
“Well,” said Ignatius Gallaher, “it’s a relaxation to come over here,
you know. And, after all, it’s the old country, as they say, isn’t it?
You can’t help having a certain feeling for it. That’s human nature….
But tell me something about yourself. Hogan told me you had … tasted
the joys of connubial bliss. Two years ago, wasn’t it?”
Little Chandler blushed and smiled.
“Yes,” he said. “I was married last May twelve months.”
“I hope it’s not too late in the day to offer my best wishes,” said
Ignatius Gallaher. “I didn’t know your address or I’d have done so at
He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took.
“Well, Tommy,” he said, “I wish you and yours every joy in life, old
chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot you. And
that’s the wish of a sincere friend, an old friend. You know that?”
“I know that,” said Little Chandler.
“Any youngsters?” said Ignatius Gallaher.
Little Chandler blushed again.
“We have one child,” he said.
“Son or daughter?”
“A little boy.”
Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend sonorously on the back.
“Bravo,” he said, “I wouldn’t doubt you, Tommy.”
Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his
lower lip with three childishly white front teeth.
“I hope you’ll spend an evening with us,” he said, “before you go back.
My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little music
“Thanks awfully, old chap,” said Ignatius Gallaher, “I’m sorry we
didn’t meet earlier. But I must leave tomorrow night.”
“I’m awfully sorry, old man. You see I’m over here with another fellow,
clever young chap he is too, and we arranged to go to a little
card-party. Only for that….”
“O, in that case….”
“But who knows?” said Ignatius Gallaher considerately. “Next year I may
take a little skip over here now that I’ve broken the ice. It’s only a
“Very well,” said Little Chandler, “the next time you come we must have
an evening together. That’s agreed now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s agreed,” said Ignatius Gallaher. “Next year if I come,
“And to clinch the bargain,” said Little Chandler, “we’ll just have one
Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked at it.
“Is it to be the last?” he said. “Because you know, I have an a.p.”
“O, yes, positively,” said Little Chandler.
“Very well, then,” said Ignatius Gallaher, “let us have another one as
a _deoc an doruis_—that’s good vernacular for a small whisky, I
Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to his
face a few moments before was establishing itself. A trifle made him
blush at any time: and now he felt warm and excited. Three small
whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher’s strong cigar had confused
his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent person. The adventure of
meeting Gallaher after eight years, of finding himself with Gallaher in
Corless’s surrounded by lights and noise, of listening to Gallaher’s
stories and of sharing for a brief space Gallaher’s vagrant and
triumphant life, upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature. He felt
acutely the contrast between his own life and his friend’s and it
seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his inferior in birth and education.
He was sure that he could do something better than his friend had ever
done, or could ever do, something higher than mere tawdry journalism if
he only got the chance. What was it that stood in his way? His
unfortunate timidity! He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to
assert his manhood. He saw behind Gallaher’s refusal of his invitation.
Gallaher was only patronising him by his friendliness just as he was
patronising Ireland by his visit.
The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass
towards his friend and took up the other boldly.
“Who knows?” he said, as they lifted their glasses. “When you come next
year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and happiness to Mr
and Mrs Ignatius Gallaher.”
Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively
over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips
decisively, set down his glass and said:
“No blooming fear of that, my boy. I’m going to have my fling first and
see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack—if I
“Some day you will,” said Little Chandler calmly.
Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full upon
“You think so?” he said.
“You’ll put your head in the sack,” repeated Little Chandler stoutly,
“like everyone else if you can find the girl.”
He had slightly emphasised his tone and he was aware that he had
betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his cheek,
he did not flinch from his friend’s gaze. Ignatius Gallaher watched him
for a few moments and then said:
“If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there’ll be no
mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She’ll have a
good fat account at the bank or she won’t do for me.”
Little Chandler shook his head.
“Why, man alive,” said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, “do you know what
it is? I’ve only to say the word and tomorrow I can have the woman and
the cash. You don’t believe it? Well, I know it. There are
hundreds—what am I saying?—thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten
with money, that’d only be too glad…. You wait a while my boy. See if
I don’t play my cards properly. When I go about a thing I mean
business, I tell you. You just wait.”
He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed
loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a calmer
“But I’m in no hurry. They can wait. I don’t fancy tying myself up to
one woman, you know.”
He imitated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face.
“Must get a bit stale, I should think,” he said.
Little Chandler sat in the room off the hall, holding a child in his
arms. To save money they kept no servant but Annie’s young sister
Monica came for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so in the
evening to help. But Monica had gone home long ago. It was a quarter to
nine. Little Chandler had come home late for tea and, moreover, he had
forgotten to bring Annie home the parcel of coffee from Bewley’s. Of
course she was in a bad humour and gave him short answers. She said she
would do without any tea but when it came near the time at which the
shop at the corner closed she decided to go out herself for a quarter
of a pound of tea and two pounds of sugar. She put the sleeping child
deftly in his arms and said:
“Here. Don’t waken him.”
A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its
light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of crumpled
horn. It was Annie’s photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing
at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he
had brought her home as a present one Saturday. It had cost him ten and
elevenpence; but what an agony of nervousness it had cost him! How he
had suffered that day, waiting at the shop door until the shop was
empty, standing at the counter and trying to appear at his ease while
the girl piled ladies’ blouses before him, paying at the desk and
forgetting to take up the odd penny of his change, being called back by
the cashier, and finally, striving to hide his blushes as he left the
shop by examining the parcel to see if it was securely tied. When he
brought the blouse home Annie kissed him and said it was very pretty
and stylish; but when she heard the price she threw the blouse on the
table and said it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence
for it. At first she wanted to take it back but when she tried it on
she was delighted with it, especially with the make of the sleeves, and
kissed him and said he was very good to think of her.
He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered
coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But
he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike?
The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied
him: there was no passion in them, no rapture. He thought of what
Gallaher had said about rich Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he
thought, how full they are of passion, of voluptuous longing!… Why
had he married the eyes in the photograph?
He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round the
room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which he had
bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen it herself
and it reminded him of her. It too was prim and pretty. A dull
resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not escape from
his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like
Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be
paid for. If he could only write a book and get it published, that
might open the way for him.
A volume of Byron’s poems lay before him on the table. He opened it
cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and began
to read the first poem in the book:
_Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom,
Not e’en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret’s tomb
And scatter flowers on the dust I love._
He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room. How
melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the
melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he wanted to
describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan Bridge, for
example. If he could get back again into that mood….
The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and tried to
hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to and fro in
his arms but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it faster while his
eyes began to read the second stanza:
_Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
That clay where once…._
It was useless. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t do anything. The wailing
of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless, useless! He
was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger and suddenly
bending to the child’s face he shouted:
The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began to
scream. He jumped up from his chair and walked hastily up and down the
room with the child in his arms. It began to sob piteously, losing its
breath for four or five seconds, and then bursting out anew. The thin
walls of the room echoed the sound. He tried to soothe it but it sobbed
more convulsively. He looked at the contracted and quivering face of
the child and began to be alarmed. He counted seven sobs without a
break between them and caught the child to his breast in fright. If it
The door was burst open and a young woman ran in, panting.
“What is it? What is it?” she cried.
The child, hearing its mother’s voice, broke out into a paroxysm of
“It’s nothing, Annie … it’s nothing…. He began to cry….”
She flung her parcels on the floor and snatched the child from him.
“What have you done to him?” she cried, glaring into his face.
Little Chandler sustained for one moment the gaze of her eyes and his
heart closed together as he met the hatred in them. He began to
“It’s nothing…. He … he began to cry…. I couldn’t … I didn’t do
Giving no heed to him she began to walk up and down the room, clasping
the child tightly in her arms and murmuring:
“My little man! My little mannie! Was ’ou frightened, love?… There
now, love! There now!… Lambabaun! Mamma’s little lamb of the
world!… There now!”
Little Chandler felt his cheeks suffused with shame and he stood back
out of the lamplight. He listened while the paroxysm of the child’s
sobbing grew less and less; and tears of remorse started to his eyes.