LILY, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had
she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the
ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy
hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway
to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to attend to the
ladies also. But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought of that and had
converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies' dressing-room. Miss Kate
and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking
after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the
banisters and calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.
It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance. Everybody
who knew them came to it, members of the family, old friends of the
family, the members of Julia's choir, any of Kate's pupils that were grown
up enough, and even some of Mary Jane's pupils too. Never once had it
fallen flat. For years and years it had gone off in splendid style, as
long as anyone could remember; ever since Kate and Julia, after the death
of their brother Pat, had left the house in Stoney Batter and taken Mary
Jane, their only niece, to live with them in the dark, gaunt house on
Usher's Island, the upper part of which they had rented from Mr. Fulham,
the corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a good thirty years ago if
it was a day. Mary Jane, who was then a little girl in short clothes, was
now the main prop of the household, for she had the organ in Haddington
Road. She had been through the Academy and gave a pupils' concert every
year in the upper room of the Antient Concert Rooms. Many of her pupils
belonged to the better-class families on the Kingstown and Dalkey line.
Old as they were, her aunts also did their share. Julia, though she was
quite grey, was still the leading soprano in Adam and Eve's, and Kate,
being too feeble to go about much, gave music lessons to beginners on the
old square piano in the back room. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, did
housemaid's work for them. Though their life was modest, they believed in
eating well; the best of everything: diamond-bone sirloins, three-shilling
tea and the best bottled stout. But Lily seldom made a mistake in the
orders, so that she got on well with her three mistresses. They were
fussy, that was all. But the only thing they would not stand was back
Of course, they had good reason to be fussy on such a night. And then it
was long after ten o'clock and yet there was no sign of Gabriel and his
wife. Besides they were dreadfully afraid that Freddy Malins might turn up
screwed. They would not wish for worlds that any of Mary Jane's pupils
should see him under the influence; and when he was like that it was
sometimes very hard to manage him. Freddy Malins always came late, but
they wondered what could be keeping Gabriel: and that was what brought
them every two minutes to the banisters to ask Lily had Gabriel or Freddy
"O, Mr. Conroy," said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door for him,
"Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never coming. Good-night, Mrs.
"I'll engage they did," said Gabriel, "but they forget that my wife here
takes three mortal hours to dress herself."
He stood on the mat, scraping the snow from his goloshes, while Lily led
his wife to the foot of the stairs and called out:
"Miss Kate, here's Mrs. Conroy."
Kate and Julia came toddling down the dark stairs at once. Both of them
kissed Gabriel's wife, said she must be perished alive, and asked was
Gabriel with her.
"Here I am as right as the mail, Aunt Kate! Go on up. I'll follow," called
out Gabriel from the dark.
He continued scraping his feet vigorously while the three women went
upstairs, laughing, to the ladies' dressing-room. A light fringe of snow
lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on the
toes of his goloshes; and, as the buttons of his overcoat slipped with a
squeaking noise through the snow-stiffened frieze, a cold, fragrant air
from out-of-doors escaped from crevices and folds.
"Is it snowing again, Mr. Conroy?" asked Lily.
She had preceded him into the pantry to help him off with his overcoat.
Gabriel smiled at the three syllables she had given his surname and
glanced at her. She was a slim, growing girl, pale in complexion and with
hay-coloured hair. The gas in the pantry made her look still paler.
Gabriel had known her when she was a child and used to sit on the lowest
step nursing a rag doll.
"Yes, Lily," he answered, "and I think we're in for a night of it."
He looked up at the pantry ceiling, which was shaking with the stamping
and shuffling of feet on the floor above, listened for a moment to the
piano and then glanced at the girl, who was folding his overcoat carefully
at the end of a shelf.
"Tell me. Lily," he said in a friendly tone, "do you still go to school?"
"O no, sir," she answered. "I'm done schooling this year and more."
"O, then," said Gabriel gaily, "I suppose we'll be going to your wedding
one of these fine days with your young man, eh?"
The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great
"The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of
Gabriel coloured, as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking
at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at
his patent-leather shoes.
He was a stout, tallish young man. The high colour of his cheeks pushed
upwards even to his forehead, where it scattered itself in a few formless
patches of pale red; and on his hairless face there scintillated
restlessly the polished lenses and the bright gilt rims of the glasses
which screened his delicate and restless eyes. His glossy black hair was
parted in the middle and brushed in a long curve behind his ears where it
curled slightly beneath the groove left by his hat.
When he had flicked lustre into his shoes he stood up and pulled his
waistcoat down more tightly on his plump body. Then he took a coin rapidly
from his pocket.
"O Lily," he said, thrusting it into her hands, "it's Christmastime, isn't
it? Just... here's a little...."
He walked rapidly towards the door.
"O no, sir!" cried the girl, following him. "Really, sir, I wouldn't take
"Christmas-time! Christmas-time!" said Gabriel, almost trotting to the
stairs and waving his hand to her in deprecation.
The girl, seeing that he had gained the stairs, called out after him:
"Well, thank you, sir."
He waited outside the drawing-room door until the waltz should finish,
listening to the skirts that swept against it and to the shuffling of
feet. He was still discomposed by the girl's bitter and sudden retort. It
had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel by arranging his cuffs
and the bows of his tie. He then took from his waistcoat pocket a little
paper and glanced at the headings he had made for his speech. He was
undecided about the lines from Robert Browning, for he feared they would
be above the heads of his hearers. Some quotation that they would
recognise from Shakespeare or from the Melodies would be better. The
indelicate clacking of the men's heels and the shuffling of their soles
reminded him that their grade of culture differed from his. He would only
make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they could not
understand. They would think that he was airing his superior education. He
would fail with them just as he had failed with the girl in the pantry. He
had taken up a wrong tone. His whole speech was a mistake from first to
last, an utter failure.
Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies' dressing-room.
His aunts were two small, plainly dressed old women. Aunt Julia was an
inch or so the taller. Her hair, drawn low over the tops of her ears, was
grey; and grey also, with darker shadows, was her large flaccid face.
Though she was stout in build and stood erect, her slow eyes and parted
lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or
where she was going. Aunt Kate was more vivacious. Her face, healthier
than her sister's, was all puckers and creases, like a shrivelled red
apple, and her hair, braided in the same old-fashioned way, had not lost
its ripe nut colour.
They both kissed Gabriel frankly. He was their favourite nephew, the son
of their dead elder sister, Ellen, who had married T. J. Conroy of the
Port and Docks.
"Gretta tells me you're not going to take a cab back to Monkstown tonight,
Gabriel," said Aunt Kate.
"No," said Gabriel, turning to his wife, "we had quite enough of that last
year, hadn't we? Don't you remember, Aunt Kate, what a cold Gretta got out
of it? Cab windows rattling all the way, and the east wind blowing in
after we passed Merrion. Very jolly it was. Gretta caught a dreadful
Aunt Kate frowned severely and nodded her head at every word.
"Quite right, Gabriel, quite right," she said. "You can't be too careful."
"But as for Gretta there," said Gabriel, "she'd walk home in the snow if
she were let."
Mrs. Conroy laughed.
"Don't mind him, Aunt Kate," she said. "He's really an awful bother, what
with green shades for Tom's eyes at night and making him do the
dumb-bells, and forcing Eva to eat the stirabout. The poor child! And she
simply hates the sight of it!... O, but you'll never guess what he makes
me wear now!"
She broke out into a peal of laughter and glanced at her husband, whose
admiring and happy eyes had been wandering from her dress to her face and
hair. The two aunts laughed heartily, too, for Gabriel's solicitude was a
standing joke with them.
"Goloshes!" said Mrs. Conroy. "That's the latest. Whenever it's wet
underfoot I must put on my galoshes. Tonight even, he wanted me to put
them on, but I wouldn't. The next thing he'll buy me will be a diving
Gabriel laughed nervously and patted his tie reassuringly, while Aunt Kate
nearly doubled herself, so heartily did she enjoy the joke. The smile soon
faded from Aunt Julia's face and her mirthless eyes were directed towards
her nephew's face. After a pause she asked:
"And what are goloshes, Gabriel?"
"Goloshes, Julia!" exclaimed her sister "Goodness me, don't you know what
goloshes are? You wear them over your... over your boots, Gretta, isn't
"Yes," said Mrs. Conroy. "Guttapercha things. We both have a pair now.
Gabriel says everyone wears them on the Continent."
"O, on the Continent," murmured Aunt Julia, nodding her head slowly.
Gabriel knitted his brows and said, as if he were slightly angered:
"It's nothing very wonderful, but Gretta thinks it very funny because she
says the word reminds her of Christy Minstrels."
"But tell me, Gabriel," said Aunt Kate, with brisk tact. "Of course,
you've seen about the room. Gretta was saying..."
"O, the room is all right," replied Gabriel. "I've taken one in the
"To be sure," said Aunt Kate, "by far the best thing to do. And the
children, Gretta, you're not anxious about them?"
"O, for one night," said Mrs. Conroy. "Besides, Bessie will look after
"To be sure," said Aunt Kate again. "What a comfort it is to have a girl
like that, one you can depend on! There's that Lily, I'm sure I don't know
what has come over her lately. She's not the girl she was at all."
Gabriel was about to ask his aunt some questions on this point, but she
broke off suddenly to gaze after her sister, who had wandered down the
stairs and was craning her neck over the banisters.
"Now, I ask you," she said almost testily, "where is Julia going? Julia!
Julia! Where are you going?"
Julia, who had gone half way down one flight, came back and announced
At the same moment a clapping of hands and a final flourish of the pianist
told that the waltz had ended. The drawing-room door was opened from
within and some couples came out. Aunt Kate drew Gabriel aside hurriedly
and whispered into his ear:
"Slip down, Gabriel, like a good fellow and see if he's all right, and
don't let him up if he's screwed. I'm sure he's screwed. I'm sure he is."
Gabriel went to the stairs and listened over the banisters. He could hear
two persons talking in the pantry. Then he recognised Freddy Malins'
laugh. He went down the stairs noisily.
"It's such a relief," said Aunt Kate to Mrs. Conroy, "that Gabriel is
here. I always feel easier in my mind when he's here.... Julia, there's
Miss Daly and Miss Power will take some refreshment. Thanks for your
beautiful waltz, Miss Daly. It made lovely time."
A tall wizen-faced man, with a stiff grizzled moustache and swarthy skin,
who was passing out with his partner, said:
"And may we have some refreshment, too, Miss Morkan?"
"Julia," said Aunt Kate summarily, "and here's Mr. Browne and Miss
Furlong. Take them in, Julia, with Miss Daly and Miss Power."
"I'm the man for the ladies," said Mr. Browne, pursing his lips until his
moustache bristled and smiling in all his wrinkles. "You know, Miss
Morkan, the reason they are so fond of me is——"
He did not finish his sentence, but, seeing that Aunt Kate was out of
earshot, at once led the three young ladies into the back room. The middle
of the room was occupied by two square tables placed end to end, and on
these Aunt Julia and the caretaker were straightening and smoothing a
large cloth. On the sideboard were arrayed dishes and plates, and glasses
and bundles of knives and forks and spoons. The top of the closed square
piano served also as a sideboard for viands and sweets. At a smaller
sideboard in one corner two young men were standing, drinking hop-bitters.
Mr. Browne led his charges thither and invited them all, in jest, to some
ladies' punch, hot, strong and sweet. As they said they never took
anything strong, he opened three bottles of lemonade for them. Then he
asked one of the young men to move aside, and, taking hold of the
decanter, filled out for himself a goodly measure of whisky. The young men
eyed him respectfully while he took a trial sip.
"God help me," he said, smiling, "it's the doctor's orders."
His wizened face broke into a broader smile, and the three young ladies
laughed in musical echo to his pleasantry, swaying their bodies to and
fro, with nervous jerks of their shoulders. The boldest said:
"O, now, Mr. Browne, I'm sure the doctor never ordered anything of the
Mr. Browne took another sip of his whisky and said, with sidling mimicry:
"Well, you see, I'm like the famous Mrs. Cassidy, who is reported to have
said: 'Now, Mary Grimes, if I don't take it, make me take it, for I feel I
His hot face had leaned forward a little too confidentially and he had
assumed a very low Dublin accent so that the young ladies, with one
instinct, received his speech in silence. Miss Furlong, who was one of
Mary Jane's pupils, asked Miss Daly what was the name of the pretty waltz
she had played; and Mr. Browne, seeing that he was ignored, turned
promptly to the two young men who were more appreciative.
A red-faced young woman, dressed in pansy, came into the room, excitedly
clapping her hands and crying:
Close on her heels came Aunt Kate, crying:
"Two gentlemen and three ladies, Mary Jane!"
"O, here's Mr. Bergin and Mr. Kerrigan," said Mary Jane. "Mr. Kerrigan,
will you take Miss Power? Miss Furlong, may I get you a partner, Mr.
Bergin. O, that'll just do now."
"Three ladies, Mary Jane," said Aunt Kate.
The two young gentlemen asked the ladies if they might have the pleasure,
and Mary Jane turned to Miss Daly.
"O, Miss Daly, you're really awfully good, after playing for the last two
dances, but really we're so short of ladies tonight."
"I don't mind in the least, Miss Morkan."
"But I've a nice partner for you, Mr. Bartell D'Arcy, the tenor. I'll get
him to sing later on. All Dublin is raving about him."
"Lovely voice, lovely voice!" said Aunt Kate.
As the piano had twice begun the prelude to the first figure Mary Jane led
her recruits quickly from the room. They had hardly gone when Aunt Julia
wandered slowly into the room, looking behind her at something.
"What is the matter, Julia?" asked Aunt Kate anxiously. "Who is it?"
Julia, who was carrying in a column of table-napkins, turned to her sister
and said, simply, as if the question had surprised her:
"It's only Freddy, Kate, and Gabriel with him."
In fact right behind her Gabriel could be seen piloting Freddy Malins
across the landing. The latter, a young man of about forty, was of
Gabriel's size and build, with very round shoulders. His face was fleshy
and pallid, touched with colour only at the thick hanging lobes of his
ears and at the wide wings of his nose. He had coarse features, a blunt
nose, a convex and receding brow, tumid and protruded lips. His
heavy-lidded eyes and the disorder of his scanty hair made him look
sleepy. He was laughing heartily in a high key at a story which he had
been telling Gabriel on the stairs and at the same time rubbing the
knuckles of his left fist backwards and forwards into his left eye.
"Good-evening, Freddy," said Aunt Julia.
Freddy Malins bade the Misses Morkan good-evening in what seemed an
offhand fashion by reason of the habitual catch in his voice and then,
seeing that Mr. Browne was grinning at him from the sideboard, crossed the
room on rather shaky legs and began to repeat in an undertone the story he
had just told to Gabriel.
"He's not so bad, is he?" said Aunt Kate to Gabriel.
Gabriel's brows were dark but he raised them quickly and answered:
"O, no, hardly noticeable."
"Now, isn't he a terrible fellow!" she said. "And his poor mother made him
take the pledge on New Year's Eve. But come on, Gabriel, into the
Before leaving the room with Gabriel she signalled to Mr. Browne by
frowning and shaking her forefinger in warning to and fro. Mr. Browne
nodded in answer and, when she had gone, said to Freddy Malins:
"Now, then, Teddy, I'm going to fill you out a good glass of lemonade just
to buck you up."
Freddy Malins, who was nearing the climax of his story, waved the offer
aside impatiently but Mr. Browne, having first called Freddy Malins'
attention to a disarray in his dress, filled out and handed him a full
glass of lemonade. Freddy Malins' left hand accepted the glass
mechanically, his right hand being engaged in the mechanical readjustment
of his dress. Mr. Browne, whose face was once more wrinkling with mirth,
poured out for himself a glass of whisky while Freddy Malins exploded,
before he had well reached the climax of his story, in a kink of
high-pitched bronchitic laughter and, setting down his untasted and
overflowing glass, began to rub the knuckles of his left fist backwards
and forwards into his left eye, repeating words of his last phrase as well
as his fit of laughter would allow him.
Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy piece,
full of runs and difficult passages, to the hushed drawing-room. He liked
music but the piece she was playing had no melody for him and he doubted
whether it had any melody for the other listeners, though they had begged
Mary Jane to play something. Four young men, who had come from the
refreshment-room to stand in the doorway at the sound of the piano, had
gone away quietly in couples after a few minutes. The only persons who
seemed to follow the music were Mary Jane herself, her hands racing along
the key-board or lifted from it at the pauses like those of a priestess in
momentary imprecation, and Aunt Kate standing at her elbow to turn the
Gabriel's eyes, irritated by the floor, which glittered with beeswax under
the heavy chandelier, wandered to the wall above the piano. A picture of
the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet hung there and beside it was a
picture of the two murdered princes in the Tower which Aunt Julia had
worked in red, blue and brown wools when she was a girl. Probably in the
school they had gone to as girls that kind of work had been taught for one
year. His mother had worked for him as a birthday present a waistcoat of
purple tabinet, with little foxes' heads upon it, lined with brown satin
and having round mulberry buttons. It was strange that his mother had had
no musical talent though Aunt Kate used to call her the brains carrier of
the Morkan family. Both she and Julia had always seemed a little proud of
their serious and matronly sister. Her photograph stood before the
pierglass. She held an open book on her knees and was pointing out
something in it to Constantine who, dressed in a man-o-war suit, lay at
her feet. It was she who had chosen the name of her sons for she was very
sensible of the dignity of family life. Thanks to her, Constantine was now
senior curate in Balbrigan and, thanks to her, Gabriel himself had taken
his degree in the Royal University. A shadow passed over his face as he
remembered her sullen opposition to his marriage. Some slighting phrases
she had used still rankled in his memory; she had once spoken of Gretta as
being country cute and that was not true of Gretta at all. It was Gretta
who had nursed her during all her last long illness in their house at
He knew that Mary Jane must be near the end of her piece for she was
playing again the opening melody with runs of scales after every bar and
while he waited for the end the resentment died down in his heart. The
piece ended with a trill of octaves in the treble and a final deep octave
in the bass. Great applause greeted Mary Jane as, blushing and rolling up
her music nervously, she escaped from the room. The most vigorous clapping
came from the four young men in the doorway who had gone away to the
refreshment-room at the beginning of the piece but had come back when the
piano had stopped.
Lancers were arranged. Gabriel found himself partnered with Miss Ivors.
She was a frank-mannered talkative young lady, with a freckled face and
prominent brown eyes. She did not wear a low-cut bodice and the large
brooch which was fixed in the front of her collar bore on it an Irish
device and motto.
When they had taken their places she said abruptly:
"I have a crow to pluck with you."
"With me?" said Gabriel.
She nodded her head gravely.
"What is it?" asked Gabriel, smiling at her solemn manner.
"Who is G. C.?" answered Miss Ivors, turning her eyes upon him.
Gabriel coloured and was about to knit his brows, as if he did not
understand, when she said bluntly:
"O, innocent Amy! I have found out that you write for The Daily Express.
Now, aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
"Why should I be ashamed of myself?" asked Gabriel, blinking his eyes and
trying to smile.
"Well, I'm ashamed of you," said Miss Ivors frankly. "To say you'd write
for a paper like that. I didn't think you were a West Briton."
A look of perplexity appeared on Gabriel's face. It was true that he wrote
a literary column every Wednesday in The Daily Express, for which he was
paid fifteen shillings. But that did not make him a West Briton surely.
The books he received for review were almost more welcome than the paltry
cheque. He loved to feel the covers and turn over the pages of newly
printed books. Nearly every day when his teaching in the college was ended
he used to wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers, to
Hickey's on Bachelor's Walk, to Web's or Massey's on Aston's Quay, or to
O'Clohissey's in the by-street. He did not know how to meet her charge. He
wanted to say that literature was above politics. But they were friends of
many years' standing and their careers had been parallel, first at the
University and then as teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with
her. He continued blinking his eyes and trying to smile and murmured
lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books.
When their turn to cross had come he was still perplexed and inattentive.
Miss Ivors promptly took his hand in a warm grasp and said in a soft
"Of course, I was only joking. Come, we cross now."
When they were together again she spoke of the University question and
Gabriel felt more at ease. A friend of hers had shown her his review of
Browning's poems. That was how she had found out the secret: but she liked
the review immensely. Then she said suddenly:
"O, Mr. Conroy, will you come for an excursion to the Aran Isles this
summer? We're going to stay there a whole month. It will be splendid out
in the Atlantic. You ought to come. Mr. Clancy is coming, and Mr. Kilkelly
and Kathleen Kearney. It would be splendid for Gretta too if she'd come.
She's from Connacht, isn't she?"
"Her people are," said Gabriel shortly.
"But you will come, won't you?" said Miss Ivors, laying her warm hand
eagerly on his arm.
"The fact is," said Gabriel, "I have just arranged to go——"
"Go where?" asked Miss Ivors.
"Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows and
"But where?" asked Miss Ivors.
"Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany," said
"And why do you go to France and Belgium," said Miss Ivors, "instead of
visiting your own land?"
"Well," said Gabriel, "it's partly to keep in touch with the languages and
partly for a change."
"And haven't you your own language to keep in touch with—Irish?"
asked Miss Ivors.
"Well," said Gabriel, "if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my
Their neighbours had turned to listen to the cross-examination. Gabriel
glanced right and left nervously and tried to keep his good humour under
the ordeal which was making a blush invade his forehead.
"And haven't you your own land to visit," continued Miss Ivors, "that you
know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?"
"O, to tell you the truth," retorted Gabriel suddenly, "I'm sick of my own
country, sick of it!"
"Why?" asked Miss Ivors.
Gabriel did not answer for his retort had heated him.
"Why?" repeated Miss Ivors.
They had to go visiting together and, as he had not answered her, Miss
Ivors said warmly:
"Of course, you've no answer."
Gabriel tried to cover his agitation by taking part in the dance with
great energy. He avoided her eyes for he had seen a sour expression on her
face. But when they met in the long chain he was surprised to feel his
hand firmly pressed. She looked at him from under her brows for a moment
quizzically until he smiled. Then, just as the chain was about to start
again, she stood on tiptoe and whispered into his ear:
When the lancers were over Gabriel went away to a remote corner of the
room where Freddy Malins' mother was sitting. She was a stout feeble old
woman with white hair. Her voice had a catch in it like her son's and she
stuttered slightly. She had been told that Freddy had come and that he was
nearly all right. Gabriel asked her whether she had had a good crossing.
She lived with her married daughter in Glasgow and came to Dublin on a
visit once a year. She answered placidly that she had had a beautiful
crossing and that the captain had been most attentive to her. She spoke
also of the beautiful house her daughter kept in Glasgow, and of all the
friends they had there. While her tongue rambled on Gabriel tried to
banish from his mind all memory of the unpleasant incident with Miss
Ivors. Of course the girl or woman, or whatever she was, was an enthusiast
but there was a time for all things. Perhaps he ought not to have answered
her like that. But she had no right to call him a West Briton before
people, even in joke. She had tried to make him ridiculous before people,
heckling him and staring at him with her rabbit's eyes.
He saw his wife making her way towards him through the waltzing couples.
When she reached him she said into his ear:
"Gabriel, Aunt Kate wants to know won't you carve the goose as usual. Miss
Daly will carve the ham and I'll do the pudding."
"All right," said Gabriel.
"She's sending in the younger ones first as soon as this waltz is over so
that we'll have the table to ourselves."
"Were you dancing?" asked Gabriel.
"Of course I was. Didn't you see me? What row had you with Molly Ivors?"
"No row. Why? Did she say so?"
"Something like that. I'm trying to get that Mr. D'Arcy to sing. He's full
of conceit, I think."
"There was no row," said Gabriel moodily, "only she wanted me to go for a
trip to the west of Ireland and I said I wouldn't."
His wife clasped her hands excitedly and gave a little jump.
"O, do go, Gabriel," she cried. "I'd love to see Galway again."
"You can go if you like," said Gabriel coldly.
She looked at him for a moment, then turned to Mrs. Malins and said:
"There's a nice husband for you, Mrs. Malins."
While she was threading her way back across the room Mrs. Malins, without
adverting to the interruption, went on to tell Gabriel what beautiful
places there were in Scotland and beautiful scenery. Her son-in-law
brought them every year to the lakes and they used to go fishing. Her
son-in-law was a splendid fisher. One day he caught a beautiful big fish
and the man in the hotel cooked it for their dinner.
Gabriel hardly heard what she said. Now that supper was coming near he
began to think again about his speech and about the quotation. When he saw
Freddy Malins coming across the room to visit his mother Gabriel left the
chair free for him and retired into the embrasure of the window. The room
had already cleared and from the back room came the clatter of plates and
knives. Those who still remained in the drawing-room seemed tired of
dancing and were conversing quietly in little groups. Gabriel's warm
trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be
outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone, first along by the
river and then through the park! The snow would be lying on the branches
of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the Wellington
Monument. How much more pleasant it would be there than at the