Articles on this Page
- 08/18/17--14:12: _Conan O'Brien
- 08/19/17--11:16: _SpongeBob Edits / S...
- 08/19/17--23:29: _how to install kaka...
- 08/20/17--00:16: _What are you doing ...
- 08/17/17--08:09: _Hoodie Melo
- 08/20/17--12:09: _Jesus Sonic
- 08/17/17--08:09: _Hoodie Melo
- 08/20/17--16:21: _C9 LUL
- 08/21/17--06:28: _2017 Solar Eclipse
- 08/21/17--08:10: _Stages of Grief
- 08/21/17--09:34: _None but in Yellow
- 08/21/17--10:22: _1 Hour Here Is 7 Ho...
- 08/21/17--12:07: _Open for a Surprise
- 08/21/17--12:40: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/21/17--12:50: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/21/17--13:05: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/21/17--13:09: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/21/17--13:25: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/21/17--13:33: _The Entire Text of ...
- 08/18/17--09:02: _Juggalo March on Wa...
- 08/18/17--14:12: Conan O'Brien
- 08/19/17--11:16: SpongeBob Edits / SpongeBob Edited
- 08/19/17--23:29: how to install kakaotalk for pc
- 08/20/17--00:16: What are you doing on computer
- 08/17/17--08:09: Hoodie Melo
- 08/20/17--12:09: Jesus Sonic
- 08/17/17--08:09: Hoodie Melo
- 08/20/17--16:21: C9 LUL
- 08/21/17--06:28: 2017 Solar Eclipse
- 08/21/17--08:10: Stages of Grief
- 08/21/17--09:34: None but in Yellow
- 08/21/17--10:22: 1 Hour Here Is 7 Hours on Earth
- 08/21/17--12:07: Open for a Surprise
- 08/21/17--12:40: The Entire Text of The Dead
- 08/21/17--12:50: The Entire Text of Ulysses
- 08/21/17--13:05: The Entire Text of Hills Like White Elephants
- 08/21/17--13:09: The Entire Text of Turn of the Screw
- 08/21/17--13:25: The Entire Text of A Rose for Emily
- 08/21/17--13:33: The Entire Text of Moby Dick
- 08/18/17--09:02: Juggalo March on Washington 2017
Conan O’Brien is an American comedian, television host, and television producer who is best known as hosting various late-night talk shows as well as Conan on the cable channel TBS.
Conan first started as a writer for SNL but later quit to write and produce for The Simpsons from 1991 to 1993. Conan began his late-night career with Late Night, on September 13, 1993. After a short run as the host of The Tonight Show, O’Brien left NBC and began hosting Conan on TBS in 2010.
Social Media presence
The Official Conan youtube channel joined on June 22nd, 2008, and has over 5 million subscribers and 3.6 billion views, as of 2017.
Conan’s Facebook page has over 3 million likes while his twitter account has 35 million followers.
During the second episode of O’Brien hosting The Tonight Show, the sketch “Twitter Tracker” first used the nickname “Coco” later in the show, Guest Tom Hanks eventually getting the entire audience to chant it. The nickname along with the phrase Team Coco is often used to brand the host.
On September 13, 1993, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien premiered with negative reviews from critics saying the host was nervous and “too smart, too East Coast, too sophisticated, too young and even too tall to be successful.”
The show slowly improved and pulled an average of 2.5 million viewers a night by 2005.
As early as 2004, O’Brien negotiated a new contract with NBC to replace Jay Leno in The Tonight Show in 2009. After a short run as The Tonight Show host in 2010, O’Brien left NBC when disagreements were made about moving the time slot for the show.
On November 8th, 2010, Conan on TBS premiered to favorable ratings from critics. As of 2017, the show has been renewed through 2022.
Conan has produced viral skits and interviews with his celebrity guests which are uploaded to his youtube channel.
O’Brien is known for his self deprecating humor and for discussing his Irish Catholic background on the show. Although O’Brien considers himself moderate on the political spectrum he has been dedicated to the Democrat party since 1984.
Since 1989, O’Brien has been nominated for 28 Primetime Emmy Awards and won a total of three, one People’s Choice Awards and six Writers Guild of America Awards. O’Brien has been nominated for both writing and hosting.
O’Brien was born on born April 18, 1963, in Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S. After O’Brien graduated as valedictorian in 1981 from Brookline High School he attended Harvard University where he studied history and literature. O’Brien graduated Harvard with magna cum laude Harvard in 1985 and shortly began his career after moving to L.A.
O’brien met his wife Elizabeth Ann Powel in 2010 when she wrote for an advertising skit on Late Night. The couple married in 2002 and have 2 children together, a daughter (born October 14,2003) and a son(born November 9, 2005).
In 2006, O’Brien became a victim of stalking by Father David Ajemian, who later came in contact with O’Brien’s parents. Ajemian and O’Brien both attended Harvard University at the same time and when Ajemian was denied seats in the Late Night audience he threatened O’Brien writing “Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans???” Ajemian later tried to enter a taping of Late Night but was caught and arrested. On April 8th, Ajemian pleaded guilty to stalking and was ordered to sign a two-year restraining order for O’Brien.
External References References
SpongeBob Edits (or SpongeBob Edited) Is Parody Or Remix Video That Use The Profanity Audio Source Comes From Like Tenacious D And Others.
What Are Edits?
Edits, also known as dubs, are parodies of original videos by replacing certain spaces or phrases with words or sounds collected from other videos or songs, all in order to make something funny out of it, usually perverted. On some occations, edits are usually accused for hate speech, but in truth, nobody is actually offended.
For the most part, SpongeBob episodes are edited primarily, and are submitted to YouTube. However, most videos such as these are flagged (by a former-YouTube group called the Flaggots), so in order to view, one must sign into an account that is age above 18 to watch, usually.
Though despite the name and history, SpongeBob is not the only show that can be edited, multiple shows (like iCarly, Regular Show, Dora the Explorer, etc), animes like Bleach and Lucky Star and even videos from YouTube stars, usually Fred or Shane Dawson. This basically means that editing can be extended and to avoid copyright strikes, these alternates will usually do.
Spongebob Edits Editors
ViacomCanSuckIt (Formerly Klusignolo)
Roshua666 (Formerly Roshua777)
DahBestEditor (Formerly DaBestEditor, DahBestEditor and DuhBestEditor and ViacomIsRunByJews)
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“What are you doing on computer” is a phrase that Tommy Wiseau says in a video for Happy Memorial Day. The line that became a meme (not so popular) is the phrase he says while holding a computer. He says:“What are you doing on computer? GO OUTSIDE SO BEAUTIFUl! Then smashes the computer”
Hoodie Melo refers to a parody of Evil Kermit featuring basketball player Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. After Anthony was seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt to practice during the 2017 offseason, jokes began spreading that the “Hoodie Melo” was the darker, more sinister side of Carmelo Anthony, much like how the hooded Kermit the Frog represented the darker, more sinister side in the Evil Kermit meme.
In the 2017 NBA offseason, New York Knicks basketball player Carmelo Anthony was filmed several times practicing in a hooded sweatshirt, or “hoodie.” The first time “Hoodie Melo” was posted online was on May 19th, in an Instagram video by workout coach Chris Brickley (shown below).
On August 16th, 2017, SB Nation posted an article compiling videos of “Hoodie Melo” working out and showing some impressive basketball skills, leading to a joke idea that “Hoodie Melo” was a super-powered version of the real Carmelo Anthony. The same day, the Twitter account @SBNationNBA posted an Evil Kermit parody with Hoodie Melo, gaining over 2,800 retweets and 4,800 likes (shown below).
@SBnationNBA then invited fans to create their own versions of the meme in a follow-up tweet. Most of the jokes received in response referenced frustrations Knicks fans have long had with Anthony, such as his penchant for playing “isolation-style,” a style where he holds on to the basketball for a long time before shooting a mid-range jump shot. For example, a popular tweet by @A_A_Ron_Rodgers with this joke gained over 2,000 retweets (shown below, left). Others referenced Anthony’s tenuous relationship with New York and Knicks management. A tweet by @reydearmas referencing the “banana boat,” a hypothetical scenario in which NBA stars Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Anthony would be on the same team, gained over 240 retweets (shown below, right). The jokes were featured in a Twitter Moment the following morning.
Look at dis shitt
Hoodie Melo refers to a parody of Evil Kermit featuring basketball player Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. After Anthony was seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt to practice during the 2017 offseason, jokes began spreading that the “Hoodie Melo” was the darker, more sinister side of Carmelo Anthony, much like how the hooded Kermit the Frog represented the darker, more sinister side in the Evil Kermit meme.
In the 2017 NBA offseason, New York Knicks basketball player Carmelo Anthony was filmed several times practicing in a hooded sweatshirt, or “hoodie.” The first time “Hoodie Melo” was posted online was on May 19th, in an Instagram video by workout coach Chris Brickley (shown below).
On August 16th, 2017, SB Nation posted an article compiling videos of “Hoodie Melo” working out and showing some impressive basketball skills, leading to a joke idea that “Hoodie Melo” was a super-powered version of the real Carmelo Anthony. The same day, the Twitter account @SBNationNBA posted an Evil Kermit parody with Hoodie Melo, gaining over 2,800 retweets and 4,800 likes (shown below).
@SBnationNBA then invited fans to create their own versions of the meme in a follow-up tweet. Most of the jokes received in response referenced frustrations Knicks fans have long had with Anthony, such as his penchant for playing “isolation-style,” a style where he holds on to the basketball for a long time before shooting a mid-range jump shot. For example, a popular tweet by @A_A_Ron_Rodgers with this joke gained over 2,000 retweets (shown below, left). Others referenced Anthony’s tenuous relationship with New York and Knicks management. A tweet by @reydearmas referencing the “banana boat,” a hypothetical scenario in which NBA stars Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Anthony would be on the same team, gained over 240 retweets (shown below, right). The jokes were featured in a Twitter Moment the following morning.
During APEXSEASON 2 CLOUD 9 left the point uncontested during winnable team fights costing them the round/game. This continued to happen during the BO5 at an excessive rate that gave this very definition to C9. “C9 LUL”
The 2017 Solar Eclipse is a total solar eclipse visible in a narrow band within the United States stretching from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21st, 2017.
On June 8th, 1918, the last solar eclipse crossed the entire mainland United States. On February 26th, 1979, an eclipse passed through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota (shown below).
On April 21st, 2017, the total eclipse will be broadcast by NASA TV, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Science and The Weather Channel television stations. Online, the PBS show Nova will stream the eclipse on Facebook.
On August 20th, Redditor K12K3N uploaded a “deep fried” eclipse-themed image macro to /r/dankmemes, where it gained over 4,500 points (97% upvoted) and 90 comments within 24 hours (shown below, right). Meanwhile, Redditor hi_im_cj posted a Who Would Win? image pitting “a flaming ball of gas” against “one rocky boi” to /r/dankmemes (shown below, right).
On August 21st, Redditor v78 uploaded a pixel art animated GIF of a total eclipse to /r/Art, where it gathered upwards of 18,800 points (94% upvoted) and 220 comments within four hours (shown below).
Stages of Grief is an image macro series featuring pictures of the five stages of grief juxtaposed with photographs humorously parodying each stage.
On July 2nd, 2007, DeviantArtist whitegryphon uploaded an MS Paint comic titled “5 Stages of Grief,” marking one of the earliest known images parodying the Kübler-Ross model posted online (shown below).
On August 24th, 2010, a page titled “Five Stages of Grief” was created on TV Tropes. On March 28th, 2012, DeviantArtist Jabnormalities posted an exploitable comic based on the 5 stages titled “5 Stages of Grief Meme” (shown below, left). Over the next several years, various iterations of the comic were uploaded to the visual art site (shown below).
On February 4th, 2016, Redditor FutureFormerRedditor submitted a Trump-themed image macro titled “5 Stages of Trump” to /r/The_Donald (shown below).
On December 2nd, Tumblr user neproxrezi posted an image depicting the The Daily Show host Trevor Noah going through the five stages of grief while interviewing conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren (shown below).
On August 20th, 2017, Twitter user @daisyowl submitted a version of the image featuring different brands of imitation butter (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gained over 52,300 likes and 25,300 retweets. That evening, Redditor phasma11 reposted the image to /r/_me_irl, where it garnered more than 20,800 points (96% upvoted) and 130 comments within 14 hours. The following day, Redditor Ryanite reposted the image to /r/MemeEconomy, receiving more than 7,200 points (95% upvoted) and 65 comments in three hours.
None but in Yellow is an exploitable pie chart featuring the colors yellow and blue captioned with a color code indicating “none” for the color blue and “none but in yellow” for the color yellow.
On August 20th, 2017, Redditor CroioVolador submitted the graph with the title “Odds of a mod not bein gay” to /r/dankmemes, where it received more than 950 points (97% upvoted) within 24 hours (shown below).
Shortly after, Redditor AbrarKR posted a version of the graph captioned with the question “Will meirl upvote this post?” to /r/me_irl (shown below, left). Meanwhile, Redditor magik9000 posted the graph with the caption “The chances communism wont work” to /r/dankmemes (show below, right).
That evening, Twitter user @helenadonahue tweeted the graph with the title “Am I worth loving?” (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gained over 3,600 likes and 1,700 retweets. The following day, Redditors Zoorve reposted the image to /r/meirl, where it gathered more than 3,200 points (94% upvoted) within six hours.
1 Hour on this Planet Is 7 Years on Earth refers to a series of two-panel image macros based on a scene from the 2014 science fiction film Interstellar. In the film, time passes in various ways depending on how deep into space the characters go. At one point, one hour on an alien planet is seven years on earth. In the meme, the first panel features a screenshot from the film along with the line, and the following panel features another screenshot with a reference to a piece to an anticipated piece media in the caption.
On October 26th, 2014, the science fiction film Interstellar premiered. In the film, the characters embark on a journey through outer space, landing on a planet where, as the film explains, one hour is equal to seven years on Earth. A screenshot from the scene, as well as the concept for the temporal limitations of the planet are the basis for the meme.
The earliest example of the scene and concept being used as a meme occured sometime in 2016 on the website imgflip. In this version, a one-panel image macro (shown below), features a screenshot of actors Anne Hathaway and Wes Bentley from the scene with the caption “1 HOUR ON THISPLANET IS 7 YEARS ON EARTHGREATLETSWAITFORTHEDEPLOYQUEUEHERE.”
On January 20th, 2017, the Facebook account Batbale Defenders made one of the earliest two-panel versions of the meme. The post featured two versions of the screenshot and a caption that reads “1 hour on here is 7 years on Earth / Great, We wait here for the Justice League trailer.” The post (shown below) received 40 reactions and 40 shares in eight months.
However, when the image was shared by the Facebook account Marvel& Dc comics, it received more than 5,400 reactions and 470 shares. Meanwhile, on August 8th, it was shared by the Instagram account @dc__eu and received more than 11,000 likes.
In August 2017, the meme increased in popularity. On August 9th, the meme appeared on the subreddit /r/DC_Cinematic, receiving more than 200 likes. This version featured the Justice League variation. About 10 days later, another version appeared in the Game of Thrones subreddit /r/FreeFolk. This version (shown below, left) was captioned “Good, we wait here for season 8.” The post received more than 1,900 points (99% upvoted) and 100 comments.
On August 18th, the Facebook account kaamelott.les.repliques.cultes posted a French variation of the meme. This post (shown below, right) received more than 11,000 reactions and 60 shares.
Open for a Surprise refers to a popular caption to a game played on Twitter, where a user posts a picture with a specific, surprising subject just out of the frame. When the viewer clicks to enlarge the photo, the subject can than be seen. While this has generally be used to reveal cute animals, it has also been used to showcase humorous and/or offensive photos.
The earliest example of the “Open for a Surprise” game being played on Twitter occurred on September 18th, 2014. Twitter user @livschnittker posted an all blue picture that, when you clicked to enlarge the photo, revealed a disgusted face. However, the post (shown below, opened on the right) received two retweets and 16 likes.
Click the thumbnail to see the image in full-dimension
Prior to the above post, the phrase “Open for a Surprise” had been used on Twitter for a number of posts, including links and videos. On April 4th, 2010, the Twitter account @openforsurprise joined the site. However, they did not start posting pictures in this type of way. Originally, the account links to Instagram and YouTube accounts. As of August 2017, the account has acquired more than 163,000 followers.
There are other examples of similar types of were played online, such as When You See It.
On July 29h, 2017, Twitter user @david8hughes posted the first “open for a surprise” to gain traction online. Posting a picture of a clear sky, the user posted it with the caption “open for a surprise,” revealing the banner that reads “Kill Yourself.” The post (shown below) received more than 400 retweets and 1,200 likes.
Click the thumbnail to see the image in full-dimension
A little over a week later, @openforsurprise began posting images in this manner. Much like the above example, the account collected photos of images that would remain hidden until the image is clicked and expanded (examples below).
On August 10th, Twitter account @SurpriseltsA began posting these type of tweets exclusively. While the account had been started in December 2015, this is their first available post. These posts almost exclusively reveal a dog in the expanded photo. The tweet (shown below) received more than 2,800 retweets and 4,100 likes.
Click the thumbnail to see the image in full-dimension
On August 16th, Twitter user @ MorgansMumbles posted a version that revealed a dog resting its head on another dog’s head. The post (shown below) received more than 119,000 retweets and 260,000 likes.
Click the thumbnail to see the image in full-dimension
The bestest funny meme most awesome I can’t believe people are saying:
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 Monkstown.
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 bystreet. 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 friendly tone:
“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 arm 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 so----”
“But where?” asked Miss Ivors.
“Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany,” said Gabriel awkwardly.
“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 language.”
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?”
“0, 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 supper-table!
He ran over the headings of his speech: Irish hospitality, sad memories, the Three Graces, Paris, the quotation from Browning. He repeated to himself a phrase he had written in his review: “One feels that one is listening to a thought- tormented music.” Miss Ivors had praised the review. Was she sincere? Had she really any life of her own behind all her propagandism? There had never been any ill-feeling between them until that night. It unnerved him to think that she would be at the supper-table, looking up at him while he spoke with her critical quizzing eyes. Perhaps she would not be sorry to see him fail in his speech. An idea came into his mind and gave him courage. He would say, alluding to Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the generation which is now on the wane among us may have had its faults but for my part I think it had certain qualities of hospitality, of humour, of humanity, which the new and very serious and hypereducated generation that is growing up around us seems to me to lack.” Very good: that was one for Miss Ivors. What did he care that his aunts were only two ignorant old women?
A murmur in the room attracted his attention. Mr. Browne was advancing from the door, gallantly escorting Aunt Julia, who leaned upon his arm, smiling and hanging her head. An irregular musketry of applause escorted her also as far as the piano and then, as Mary Jane seated herself on the stool, and Aunt Julia, no longer smiling, half turned so as to pitch her voice fairly into the room, gradually ceased. Gabriel recognised the prelude. It was that of an old song of Aunt Julia’s -- Arrayed for the Bridal. Her voice, strong and clear in tone, attacked with great spirit the runs which embellish the air and though she sang very rapidly she did not miss even the smallest of the grace notes. To follow the voice, without looking at the singer’s face, was to feel and share the excitement of swift and secure flight. Gabriel applauded loudly with all the others at the close of the song and loud applause was borne in from the invisible supper-table. It sounded so genuine that a little colour struggled into Aunt Julia’s face as she bent to replace in the music-stand the old leather-bound songbook that had her initials on the cover. Freddy Malins, who had listened with his head perched sideways to hear her better, was still applauding when everyone else had ceased and talking animatedly to his mother who nodded her head gravely and slowly in acquiescence. At last, when he could clap no more, he stood up suddenly and hurried across the room to Aunt Julia whose hand he seized and held in both his hands, shaking it when words failed him or the catch in his voice proved too much for him.
“I was just telling my mother,” he said, “I never heard you sing so well, never. No, I never heard your voice so good as it is tonight. Now! Would you believe that now? That’s the truth. Upon my word and honour that’s the truth. I never heard your voice sound so fresh and so… so clear and fresh, never.”
Aunt Julia smiled broadly and murmured something about compliments as she released her hand from his grasp. Mr. Browne extended his open hand towards her and said to those who were near him in the manner of a showman introducing a prodigy to an audience:
“Miss Julia Morkan, my latest discovery!”
He was laughing very heartily at this himself when Freddy Malins turned to him and said:
“Well, Browne, if you’re serious you might make a worse discovery. All I can say is I never heard her sing half so well as long as I am coming here. And that’s the honest truth.”
“Neither did I,” said Mr. Browne. “I think her voice has greatly improved.”
Aunt Julia shrugged her shoulders and said with meek pride:
“Thirty years ago I hadn’t a bad voice as voices go.”
“I often told Julia,” said Aunt Kate emphatically, “that she was simply thrown away in that choir. But she never would be said by me.”
She turned as if to appeal to the good sense of the others against a refractory child while Aunt Julia gazed in front of her, a vague smile of reminiscence playing on her face.
“No,” continued Aunt Kate, “she wouldn’t be said or led by anyone, slaving there in that choir night and day, night and day. Six o’clock on Christmas morning! And all for what?”
“Well, isn’t it for the honour of God, Aunt Kate?” asked Mary Jane, twisting round on the piano-stool and smiling.
Aunt Kate turned fiercely on her niece and said:
“I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I think it’s not at all honourable for the pope to turn out the women out of the choirs that have slaved there all their lives and put little whipper-snappers of boys over their heads. I suppose it is for the good of the Church if the pope does it. But it’s not just, Mary Jane, and it’s not right.”
She had worked herself into a passion and would have continued in defence of her sister for it was a sore subject with her but Mary Jane, seeing that all the dancers had come back, intervened pacifically:
“Now, Aunt Kate, you’re giving scandal to Mr. Browne who is of the other persuasion.”
Aunt Kate turned to Mr. Browne, who was grinning at this allusion to his religion, and said hastily:
“O, I don’t question the pope’s being right. I’m only a stupid old woman and I wouldn’t presume to do such a thing. But there’s such a thing as common everyday politeness and gratitude. And if I were in Julia’s place I’d tell that Father Healey straight up to his face…”
“And besides, Aunt Kate,” said Mary Jane, “we really are all hungry and when we are hungry we are all very quarrelsome.”
“And when we are thirsty we are also quarrelsome,” added Mr. Browne.
“So that we had better go to supper,” said Mary Jane, “and finish the discussion afterwards.”
On the landing outside the drawing-room Gabriel found his wife and Mary Jane trying to persuade Miss Ivors to stay for supper. But Miss Ivors, who had put on her hat and was buttoning her cloak, would not stay. She did not feel in the least hungry and she had already overstayed her time.
“But only for ten minutes, Molly,” said Mrs. Conroy. “That won’t delay you.”
“To take a pick itself,” said Mary Jane, “after all your dancing.”
“I really couldn’t,” said Miss Ivors.
“I am afraid you didn’t enjoy yourself at all,” said Mary Jane hopelessly.
“Ever so much, I assure you,” said Miss Ivors, “but you really must let me run off now.”
“But how can you get home?” asked Mrs. Conroy.
“O, it’s only two steps up the quay.”
Gabriel hesitated a moment and said:
“If you will allow me, Miss Ivors, I’ll see you home if you are really obliged to go.”
But Miss Ivors broke away from them.
“I won’t hear of it,” she cried. “For goodness’ sake go in to your suppers and don’t mind me. I’m quite well able to take care of myself.”
“Well, you’re the comical girl, Molly,” said Mrs. Conroy frankly.
“Beannacht libh,” cried Miss Ivors, with a laugh, as she ran down the staircase.
Mary Jane gazed after her, a moody puzzled expression on her face, while Mrs. Conroy leaned over the banisters to listen for the hall-door. Gabriel asked himself was he the cause of her abrupt departure. But she did not seem to be in ill humour: she had gone away laughing. He stared blankly down the staircase.
At the moment Aunt Kate came toddling out of the supper-room, almost wringing her hands in despair.
“Where is Gabriel?” she cried. “Where on earth is Gabriel? There’s everyone waiting in there, stage to let, and nobody to carve the goose!”
“Here I am, Aunt Kate!” cried Gabriel, with sudden animation, “ready to carve a flock of geese, if necessary.”
A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks. In the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and American apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. On the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes.
Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and, having looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly into the goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden table.
“Miss Furlong, what shall I send you?” he asked. “A wing or a slice of the breast?”
“Just a small slice of the breast.”
“Miss Higgins, what for you?”
“O, anything at all, Mr. Conroy.”
While Gabriel and Miss Daly exchanged plates of goose and plates of ham and spiced beef Lily went from guest to guest with a dish of hot floury potatoes wrapped in a white napkin. This was Mary Jane’s idea and she had also suggested apple sauce for the goose but Aunt Kate had said that plain roast goose without any apple sauce had always been good enough for her and she hoped she might never eat worse. Mary Jane waited on her pupils and saw that they got the best slices and Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia opened and carried across from the piano bottles of stout and ale for the gentlemen and bottles of minerals for the ladies. There was a great deal of confusion and laughter and noise, the noise of orders and counter-orders, of knives and forks, of corks and glass-stoppers. Gabriel began to carve second helpings as soon as he had finished the first round without serving himself. Everyone protested loudly so that he compromised by taking a long draught of stout for he had found the carving hot work. Mary Jane settled down quietly to her supper but Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia were still toddling round the table, walking on each other’s heels, getting in each other’s way and giving each other unheeded orders. Mr. Browne begged of them to sit down and eat their suppers and so did Gabriel but they said there was time enough, so that, at last, Freddy Malins stood up and, capturing Aunt Kate, plumped her down on her chair amid general laughter.
When everyone had been well served Gabriel said, smiling:
“Now, if anyone wants a little more of what vulgar people call stuffing let him or her speak.”
A chorus of voices invited him to begin his own supper and Lily came forward with three potatoes which she had reserved for him.
“Very well,” said Gabriel amiably, as he took another preparatory draught, “kindly forget my existence, ladies and gentlemen, for a few minutes.”
He set to his supper and took no part in the conversation with which the table covered Lily’s removal of the plates. The subject of talk was the opera company which was then at the Theatre Royal. Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, the tenor, a dark- complexioned young man with a smart moustache, praised very highly the leading contralto of the company but Miss Furlong thought she had a rather vulgar style of production. Freddy Malins said there was a Negro chieftain singing in the second part of the Gaiety pantomime who had one of the finest tenor voices he had ever heard.
“Have you heard him?” he asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy across the table.
“No,” answered Mr. Bartell D’Arcy carelessly.
“Because,” Freddy Malins explained, “now I’d be curious to hear your opinion of him. I think he has a grand voice.”
“It takes Teddy to find out the really good things,” said Mr. Browne familiarly to the table.
“And why couldn’t he have a voice too?” asked Freddy Malins sharply. “Is it because he’s only a black?”
Nobody answered this question and Mary Jane led the table back to the legitimate opera. One of her pupils had given her a pass for Mignon. Of course it was very fine, she said, but it made her think of poor Georgina Burns. Mr. Browne could go back farther still, to the old Italian companies that used to come to Dublin -- Tietjens, Ilma de Murzka, Campanini, the great Trebelli, Giuglini, Ravelli, Aramburo. Those were the days, he said, when there was something like singing to be heard in Dublin. He told too of how the top gallery of the old Royal used to be packed night after night, of how one night an Italian tenor had sung five encores to Let me like a Soldier fall, introducing a high C every time, and of how the gallery boys would sometimes in their enthusiasm unyoke the horses from the carriage of some great prima donna and pull her themselves through the streets to her hotel. Why did they never play the grand old operas now, he asked, Dinorah, Lucrezia Borgia? Because they could not get the voices to sing them: that was why.
“Oh, well,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, “I presume there are as good singers today as there were then.”
“Where are they?” asked Mr. Browne defiantly.
“In London, Paris, Milan,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy warmly. “I suppose Caruso, for example, is quite as good, if not better than any of the men you have mentioned.”
“Maybe so,” said Mr. Browne. “But I may tell you I doubt it strongly.”
“O, I’d give anything to hear Caruso sing,” said Mary Jane.
“For me,” said Aunt Kate, who had been picking a bone, “there was only one tenor. To please me, I mean. But I suppose none of you ever heard of him.”
“Who was he, Miss Morkan?” asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy politely.
“His name,” said Aunt Kate, “was Parkinson. I heard him when he was in his prime and I think he had then the purest tenor voice that was ever put into a man’s throat.”
“Strange,” said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy. “I never even heard of him.”
“Yes, yes, Miss Morkan is right,” said Mr. Browne. “I remember hearing of old Parkinson but he’s too far back for me.”
“A beautiful, pure, sweet, mellow English tenor,” said Aunt Kate with enthusiasm.
Gabriel having finished, the huge pudding was transferred to the table. The clatter of forks and spoons began again. Gabriel’s wife served out spoonfuls of the pudding and passed the plates down the table. Midway down they were held up by Mary Jane, who replenished them with raspberry or orange jelly or with blancmange and jam. The pudding was of Aunt Julia’s making and she received praises for it from all quarters She herself said that it was not quite brown enough.
“Well, I hope, Miss Morkan,” said Mr. Browne, “that I’m brown enough for you because, you know, I’m all brown.”
All the gentlemen, except Gabriel, ate some of the pudding out of compliment to Aunt Julia. As Gabriel never ate sweets the celery had been left for him. Freddy Malins also took a stalk of celery and ate it with his pudding. He had been told that celery was a capital thing for the blood and he was just then under doctor’s care. Mrs. Malins, who had been silent all through the supper, said that her son was going down to Mount Melleray in a week or so. The table then spoke of Mount Melleray, how bracing the air was down there, how hospitable the monks were and how they never asked for a penny-piece from their guests.
“And do you mean to say,” asked Mr. Browne incredulously, “that a chap can go down there and put up there as if it were a hotel and live on the fat of the land and then come away without paying anything?”
“O, most people give some donation to the monastery when they leave.” said Mary Jane.
“I wish we had an institution like that in our Church,” said Mr. Browne candidly.
He was astonished to hear that the monks never spoke, got up at two in the morning and slept in their coffins. He asked what they did it for.
“That’s the rule of the order,” said Aunt Kate firmly.
“Yes, but why?” asked Mr. Browne.
Aunt Kate repeated that it was the rule, that was all. Mr. Browne still seemed not to understand. Freddy Malins explained to him, as best he could, that the monks were trying to make up for the sins committed by all the sinners in the outside world. The explanation was not very clear for Mr. Browne grinned and said:
“I like that idea very much but wouldn’t a comfortable spring bed do them as well as a coffin?”
“The coffin,” said Mary Jane, “is to remind them of their last end.”
As the subject had grown lugubrious it was buried in a silence of the table during which Mrs. Malins could be heard saying to her neighbour in an indistinct undertone:
“They are very good men, the monks, very pious men.”
The raisins and almonds and figs and apples and oranges and chocolates and sweets were now passed about the table and Aunt Julia invited all the guests to have either port or sherry. At first Mr. Bartell D’Arcy refused to take either but one of his neighbours nudged him and whispered something to him upon which he allowed his glass to be filled. Gradually as the last glasses were being filled the conversation ceased. A pause followed, broken only by the noise of the wine and by unsettlings of chairs. The Misses Morkan, all three, looked down at the tablecloth. Someone coughed once or twice and then a few gentlemen patted the table gently as a signal for silence. The silence came and Gabriel pushed back his chair
The patting at once grew louder in encouragement and then ceased altogether. Gabriel leaned his ten trembling fingers on the tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company. Meeting a row of upturned faces he raised his eyes to the chandelier. The piano was playing a waltz tune and he could hear the skirts sweeping against the drawing-room door. People, perhaps, were standing in the snow on the quay outside, gazing up at the lighted windows and listening to the waltz music. The air was pure there. In the distance lay the park where the trees were weighted with snow. The Wellington Monument wore a gleaming cap of snow that flashed westward over the white field of Fifteen Acres.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
“It has fallen to my lot this evening, as in years past, to perform a very pleasing task but a task for which I am afraid my poor powers as a speaker are all too inadequate.”
“No, no!” said Mr. Browne.
“But, however that may be, I can only ask you tonight to take the will for the deed and to lend me your attention for a few moments while I endeavour to express to you in words what my feelings are on this occasion.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not the first time that we have gathered together under this hospitable roof, around this hospitable board. It is not the first time that we have been the recipients -- or perhaps, I had better say, the victims -- of the hospitality of certain good ladies.”
He made a circle in the air with his arm and paused. Everyone laughed or smiled at Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia and Mary Jane who all turned crimson with pleasure. Gabriel went on more boldly:
“I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our country has no tradition which does it so much honour and which it should guard so jealously as that of its hospitality. It is a tradition that is unique as far as my experience goes (and I have visited not a few places abroad) among the modern nations. Some would say, perhaps, that with us it is rather a failing than anything to be boasted of. But granted even that, it is, to my mind, a princely failing, and one that I trust will long be cultivated among us. Of one thing, at least, I am sure. As long as this one roof shelters the good ladies aforesaid -- and I wish from my heart it may do so for many and many a long year to come -- the tradition of genuine warm-hearted courteous Irish hospitality, which our forefathers have handed down to us and which we in turn must hand down to our descendants, is still alive among us.”
A hearty murmur of assent ran round the table. It shot through Gabriel’s mind that Miss Ivors was not there and that she had gone away discourteously: and he said with confidence in himself:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
“A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is misdirected, is, I believe, in the main sincere. But we are living in a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or hypereducated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day. Listening tonight to the names of all those great singers of the past it seemed to me, I must confess, that we were living in a less spacious age. Those days might, without exaggeration, be called spacious days: and if they are gone beyond recall let us hope, at least, that in gatherings such as this we shall still speak of them with pride and affection, still cherish in our hearts the memory of those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die.”
“Hear, hear!” said Mr. Browne loudly.
“But yet,” continued Gabriel, his voice falling into a softer inflection, "there are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here tonight. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and rightly claim, our strenuous endeavours.
“Therefore, I will not linger on the past. I will not let any gloomy moralising intrude upon us here tonight. Here we are gathered together for a brief moment from the bustle and rush of our everyday routine. We are met here as friends, in the spirit of good-fellowship, as colleagues, also to a certain extent, in the true spirit of camaraderie, and as the guests of -- what shall I call them? -- the Three Graces of the Dublin musical world.”
The table burst into applause and laughter at this allusion. Aunt Julia vainly asked each of her neighbours in turn to tell her what Gabriel had said.
“He says we are the Three Graces, Aunt Julia,” said Mary Jane.
Aunt Julia did not understand but she looked up, smiling, at Gabriel, who continued in the same vein:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
“I will not attempt to play tonight the part that Paris played on another occasion. I will not attempt to choose between them. The task would be an invidious one and one beyond my poor powers. For when I view them in turn, whether it be our chief hostess herself, whose good heart, whose too good heart, has become a byword with all who know her, or her sister, who seems to be gifted with perennial youth and whose singing must have been a surprise and a revelation to us all tonight, or, last but not least, when I consider our youngest hostess, talented, cheerful, hard-working and the best of nieces, I confess, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I do not know to which of them I should award the prize.”
Gabriel glanced down at his aunts and, seeing the large smile on Aunt Julia’s face and the tears which had risen to Aunt Kate’s eyes, hastened to his close. He raised his glass of port gallantly, while every member of the company fingered a glass expectantly, and said loudly:
“Let us toast them all three together. Let us drink to their health, wealth, long life, happiness and prosperity and may they long continue to hold the proud and self-won position which they hold in their profession and the position of honour and affection which they hold in our hearts.”
All the guests stood up, glass in hand, and turning towards the three seated ladies, sang in unison, with Mr. Browne as leader:
For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows,
Which nobody can deny.
Aunt Kate was making frank use of her handkerchief and even Aunt Julia seemed moved. Freddy Malins beat time with his pudding-fork and the singers turned towards one another, as if in melodious conference, while they sang with emphasis:
Unless he tells a lie,
Unless he tells a lie,
Then, turning once more towards their hostesses, they sang:
For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows,
For they are jolly gay fellows,
Which nobody can deny.
The acclamation which followed was taken up beyond the door of the supper-room by many of the other guests and renewed time after time, Freddy Malins acting as officer with his fork on high.
The piercing morning air came into the hall where they were standing so that Aunt Kate said:
“Close the door, somebody. Mrs. Malins will get her death of cold.”
“Browne is out there, Aunt Kate,” said Mary Jane.
“Browne is everywhere,” said Aunt Kate, lowering her voice.
Mary Jane laughed at her tone.
“Really,” she said archly, “he is very attentive.”
“He has been laid on here like the gas,” said Aunt Kate in the same tone, “all during the Christmas.”
She laughed herself this time good-humouredly and then added quickly:
“But tell him to come in, Mary Jane, and close the door. I hope to goodness he didn’t hear me.”
At that moment the hall-door was opened and Mr. Browne came in from the doorstep, laughing as if his heart would break. He was dressed in a long green overcoat with mock astrakhan cuffs and collar and wore on his head an oval fur cap. He pointed down the snow-covered quay from where the sound of shrill prolonged whistling was borne in.
“Teddy will have all the cabs in Dublin out,” he said.
Gabriel advanced from the little pantry behind the office, struggling into his overcoat and, looking round the hall, said:
“Gretta not down yet?”
“She’s getting on her things, Gabriel,” said Aunt Kate.
“Who’s playing up there?” asked Gabriel.
“Nobody. They’re all gone.”
“O no, Aunt Kate,” said Mary Jane. “Bartell D’Arcy and Miss O’Callaghan aren’t gone yet.”
“Someone is fooling at the piano anyhow,” said Gabriel.
Mary Jane glanced at Gabriel and Mr. Browne and said with a shiver:
“It makes me feel cold to look at you two gentlemen muffled up like that. I wouldn’t like to face your journey home at this hour.”
“I’d like nothing better this minute,” said Mr. Browne stoutly, “than a rattling fine walk in the country or a fast drive with a good spanking goer between the shafts.”
“We used to have a very good horse and trap at home,” said Aunt Julia sadly.
“The never-to-be-forgotten Johnny,” said Mary Jane, laughing.
Aunt Kate and Gabriel laughed too.
“Why, what was wonderful about Johnny?” asked Mr. Browne.
“The late lamented Patrick Morkan, our grandfather, that is,” explained Gabriel, “commonly known in his later years as the old gentleman, was a glue-boiler.”
“O, now, Gabriel,” said Aunt Kate, laughing, “he had a starch mill.”
“Well, glue or starch,” said Gabriel, “the old gentleman had a horse by the name of Johnny. And Johnny used to work in the old gentleman’s mill, walking round and round in order to drive the mill. That was all very well; but now comes the tragic part about Johnny. One fine day the old gentleman thought he’d like to drive out with the quality to a military review in the park.”
“The Lord have mercy on his soul,” said Aunt Kate compassionately.
“Amen,” said Gabriel. “So the old gentleman, as I said, harnessed Johnny and put on his very best tall hat and his very best stock collar and drove out in grand style from his ancestral mansion somewhere near Back Lane, I think.”
Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Malins, at Gabriel’s manner and Aunt Kate said:
“O, now, Gabriel, he didn’t live in Back Lane, really. Only the mill was there.”
“Out from the mansion of his forefathers,” continued Gabriel, “he drove with Johnny. And everything went on beautifully until Johnny came in sight of King Billy’s statue: and whether he fell in love with the horse King Billy sits on or whether he thought he was back again in the mill, anyhow he began to walk round the statue.”
Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid the laughter of the others.
“Round and round he went,” said Gabriel, “and the old gentleman, who was a very pompous old gentleman, was highly indignant. ‘Go on, sir! What do you mean, sir? Johnny! Johnny! Most extraordinary conduct! Can’t understand the horse!”
The peal of laughter which followed Gabriel’s imitation of the incident was interrupted by a resounding knock at the hall door. Mary Jane ran to open it and let in Freddy Malins. Freddy Malins, with his hat well back on his head and his shoulders humped with cold, was puffing and steaming after his exertions.
“I could only get one cab,” he said.
“O, we’ll find another along the quay,” said Gabriel.
“Yes,” said Aunt Kate. “Better not keep Mrs. Malins standing in the draught.”
Mrs. Malins was helped down the front steps by her son and Mr. Browne and, after many manoeuvres, hoisted into the cab. Freddy Malins clambered in after her and spent a long time settling her on the seat, Mr. Browne helping him with advice. At last she was settled comfortably and Freddy Malins invited Mr. Browne into the cab. There was a good deal of confused talk, and then Mr. Browne got into the cab. The cabman settled his rug over his knees, and bent down for the address. The confusion grew greater and the cabman was directed differently by Freddy Malins and Mr. Browne, each of whom had his head out through a window of the cab. The difficulty was to know where to drop Mr. Browne along the route, and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane helped the discussion from the doorstep with cross-directions and contradictions and abundance of laughter. As for Freddy Malins he was speechless with laughter. He popped his head in and out of the window every moment to the great danger of his hat, and told his mother how the discussion was progressing, till at last Mr. Browne shouted to the bewildered cabman above the din of everybody’s laughter:
“Do you know Trinity College?”
“Yes, sir,” said the cabman.
“Well, drive bang up against Trinity College gates,” said Mr. Browne, “and then we’ll tell you where to go. You understand now?”
“Yes, sir,” said the cabman.
“Make like a bird for Trinity College.”
“Right, sir,” said the cabman.
The horse was whipped up and the cab rattled off along the quay amid a chorus of laughter and adieus.
Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a dark part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not see her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white. It was his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something. Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen also. But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano and a few notes of a man’s voice singing.
He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.
The hall-door was closed; and Aunt Kate, Aunt Julia and Mary Jane came down the hall, still laughing.
“Well, isn’t Freddy terrible?” said Mary Jane. “He’s really terrible.”
Gabriel said nothing but pointed up the stairs towards where his wife was standing. Now that the hall-door was closed the voice and the piano could be heard more clearly. Gabriel held up his hand for them to be silent. The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality and the singer seemed uncertain both of his words and of his voice. The voice, made plaintive by distance and by the singer’s hoarseness, faintly illuminated the cadence of the air with words expressing grief:
O, the rain falls on my heavy locks
And the dew wets my skin,
My babe lies cold…
“O,” exclaimed Mary Jane. “It’s Bartell D’Arcy singing and he wouldn’t sing all the night. O, I’ll get him to sing a song before he goes.”
“O, do, Mary Jane,” said Aunt Kate.
Mary Jane brushed past the others and ran to the staircase, but before she reached it the singing stopped and the piano was closed abruptly.
“O, what a pity!” she cried. “Is he coming down, Gretta?”
Gabriel heard his wife answer yes and saw her come down towards them. A few steps behind her were Mr. Bartell D’Arcy and Miss O’Callaghan.
“O, Mr. D’Arcy,” cried Mary Jane, “it’s downright mean of you to break off like that when we were all in raptures listening to you.”
“I have been at him all the evening,” said Miss O’Callaghan, “and Mrs. Conroy, too, and he told us he had a dreadful cold and couldn’t sing.”
“O, Mr. D’Arcy,” said Aunt Kate, “now that was a great fib to tell.”
“Can’t you see that I’m as hoarse as a crow?” said Mr. D’Arcy roughly.
He went into the pantry hastily and put on his overcoat. The others, taken aback by his rude speech, could find nothing to say. Aunt Kate wrinkled her brows and made signs to the others to drop the subject. Mr. D’Arcy stood swathing his neck carefully and frowning.
“It’s the weather,” said Aunt Julia, after a pause.
“Yes, everybody has colds,” said Aunt Kate readily, “everybody.”
“They say,” said Mary Jane, “we haven’t had snow like it for thirty years; and I read this morning in the newspapers that the snow is general all over Ireland.”
“I love the look of snow,” said Aunt Julia sadly.
“So do I,” said Miss O’Callaghan. “I think Christmas is never really Christmas unless we have the snow on the ground.”
“But poor Mr. D’Arcy doesn’t like the snow,” said Aunt Kate, smiling.
Mr. D’Arcy came from the pantry, fully swathed and buttoned, and in a repentant tone told them the history of his cold. Everyone gave him advice and said it was a great pity and urged him to be very careful of his throat in the night air. Gabriel watched his wife, who did not join in the conversation. She was standing right under the dusty fanlight and the flame of the gas lit up the rich bronze of her hair, which he had seen her drying at the fire a few days before. She was in the same attitude and seemed unaware of the talk about her At last she turned towards them and Gabriel saw that there was colour on her cheeks and that her eyes were shining. A sudden tide of joy went leaping out of his heart.
“Mr. D’Arcy,” she said, “what is the name of that song you were singing?”
“It’s called The Lass of Aughrim,” said Mr. D’Arcy, “but I couldn’t remember it properly. Why? Do you know it?”
“The Lass of Aughrim,” she repeated. “I couldn’t think of the name.”
“It’s a very nice air,” said Mary Jane. “I’m sorry you were not in voice tonight.”
“Now, Mary Jane,” said Aunt Kate, “don’t annoy Mr. D’Arcy. I won’t have him annoyed.”
Seeing that all were ready to start she shepherded them to the door, where good-night was said:
“Well, good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks for the pleasant evening.”
“Good-night, Gabriel. Good-night, Gretta!”
“Good-night, Aunt Kate, and thanks ever so much. Goodnight, Aunt Julia.”
“O, good-night, Gretta, I didn’t see you.”
“Good-night, Mr. D’Arcy. Good-night, Miss O’Callaghan.”
“Good-night, Miss Morkan.”
“Good-night, all. Safe home.”
“Good-night. Good night.”
The morning was still dark. A dull, yellow light brooded over the houses and the river; and the sky seemed to be descending. It was slushy underfoot; and only streaks and patches of snow lay on the roofs, on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings. The lamps were still burning redly in the murky air and, across the river, the palace of the Four Courts stood out menacingly against the heavy sky.
She was walking on before him with Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, her shoes in a brown parcel tucked under one arm and her hands holding her skirt up from the slush. She had no longer any grace of attitude, but Gabriel’s eyes were still bright with happiness. The blood went bounding along his veins; and the thoughts went rioting through his brain, proud, joyful, tender, valorous.
She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and say something foolish and affectionate into her ear. She seemed to him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and then to be alone with her. Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope envelope was lying beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand. Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness. They were standing on the crowded platform and he was placing a ticket inside the warm palm of her glove. He was standing with her in the cold, looking in through a grated window at a man making bottles in a roaring furnace. It was very cold. Her face, fragrant in the cold air, was quite close to his; and suddenly he called out to the man at the furnace:
“Is the fire hot, sir?”
But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace. It was just as well. He might have answered rudely.
A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fire of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers. Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched all their souls’ tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her then he had said: “Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?”
Like distant music these words that he had written years before were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the room in the hotel, then they would be alone together. He would call her softly:
Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing. Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and look at him….
At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab. He was glad of its rattling noise as it saved him from conversation. She was looking out of the window and seemed tired. The others spoke only a few words, pointing out some building or street. The horse galloped along wearily under the murky morning sky, dragging his old rattling box after his heels, and Gabriel was again in a cab with her, galloping to catch the boat, galloping to their honeymoon.
As the cab drove across O’Connell Bridge Miss O’Callaghan said:
“They say you never cross O’Connell Bridge without seeing a white horse.”
“I see a white man this time,” said Gabriel.
“Where?” asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy.
Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.
“Good-night, Dan,” he said gaily.
When the cab drew up before the hotel, Gabriel jumped out and, in spite of Mr. Bartell D’Arcy’s protest, paid the driver. He gave the man a shilling over his fare. The man saluted and said:
“A prosperous New Year to you, sir.”
“The same to you,” said Gabriel cordially.
She leaned for a moment on his arm in getting out of the cab and while standing at the curbstone, bidding the others good- night. She leaned lightly on his arm, as lightly as when she had danced with him a few hours before. He had felt proud and happy then, happy that she was his, proud of her grace and wifely carriage. But now, after the kindling again of so many memories, the first touch of her body, musical and strange and perfumed, sent through him a keen pang of lust. Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm closely to his side; and, as they stood at the hotel door, he felt that they had escaped from their lives and duties, escaped from home and friends and run away together with wild and radiant hearts to a new adventure.
An old man was dozing in a great hooded chair in the hall. He lit a candle in the office and went before them to the stairs. They followed him in silence, their feet falling in soft thuds on the thickly carpeted stairs. She mounted the stairs behind the porter, her head bowed in the ascent, her frail shoulders curved as with a burden, her skirt girt tightly about her. He could have flung his arms about her hips and held her still, for his arms were trembling with desire to seize her and only the stress of his nails against the palms of his hands held the wild impulse of his body in check. The porter halted on the stairs to settle his guttering candle. They halted, too, on the steps below him. In the silence Gabriel could hear the falling of the molten wax into the tray and the thumping of his own heart against his ribs.
The porter led them along a corridor and opened a door. Then he set his unstable candle down on a toilet-table and asked at what hour they were to be called in the morning.
“Eight,” said Gabriel.
The porter pointed to the tap of the electric-light and began a muttered apology, but Gabriel cut him short.
“We don’t want any light. We have light enough from the street. And I say,” he added, pointing to the candle, “you might remove that handsome article, like a good man.”
The porter took up his candle again, but slowly, for he was surprised by such a novel idea. Then he mumbled good-night and went out. Gabriel shot the lock to.
A ghastly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from one window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a couch and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into the street in order that his emotion might calm a little. Then he turned and leaned against a chest of drawers with his back to the light. She had taken off her hat and cloak and was standing before a large swinging mirror, unhooking her waist. Gabriel paused for a few moments, watching her, and then said:
She turned away from the mirror slowly and walked along the shaft of light towards him. Her face looked so serious and weary that the words would not pass Gabriel’s lips. No, it was not the moment yet.
“You looked tired,” he said.
“I am a little,” she answered.
“You don’t feel ill or weak?”
“No, tired: that’s all.”
She went on to the window and stood there, looking out. Gabriel waited again and then, fearing that diffidence was about to conquer him, he said abruptly:
“By the way, Gretta!”
“What is it?”
“You know that poor fellow Malins?” he said quickly.
“Yes. What about him?”
“Well, poor fellow, he’s a decent sort of chap, after all,” continued Gabriel in a false voice. “He gave me back that sovereign I lent him, and I didn’t expect it, really. It’s a pity he wouldn’t keep away from that Browne, because he’s not a bad fellow, really.”
He was trembling now with annoyance. Why did she seem so abstracted? He did not know how he could begin. Was she annoyed, too, about something? If she would only turn to him or come to him of her own accord! To take her as she was would be brutal. No, he must see some ardour in her eyes first. He longed to be master of her strange mood.
“When did you lend him the pound?” she asked, after a pause.
Gabriel strove to restrain himself from breaking out into brutal language about the sottish Malins and his pound. He longed to cry to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster her. But he said:
“O, at Christmas, when he opened that little Christmas-card shop in Henry Street.”
He was in such a fever of rage and desire that he did not hear her come from the window. She stood before him for an instant, looking at him strangely. Then, suddenly raising herself on tiptoe and resting her hands lightly on his shoulders, she kissed him.
“You are a very generous person, Gabriel,” she said.
Gabriel, trembling with delight at her sudden kiss and at the quaintness of her phrase, put his hands on her hair and began smoothing it back, scarcely touching it with his fingers. The washing had made it fine and brilliant. His heart was brimming over with happiness. Just when he was wishing for it she had come to him of her own accord. Perhaps her thoughts had been running with his. Perhaps she had felt the impetuous desire that was in him, and then the yielding mood had come upon her. Now that she had fallen to him so easily, he wondered why he had been so diffident.
He stood, holding her head between his hands. Then, slipping one arm swiftly about her body and drawing her towards him, he said softly:
“Gretta, dear, what are you thinking about?”
She did not answer nor yield wholly to his arm. He said again, softly:
“Tell me what it is, Gretta. I think I know what is the matter. Do I know?”
She did not answer at once. Then she said in an outburst of tears:
“O, I am thinking about that song, The Lass of Aughrim.”
She broke loose from him and ran to the bed and, throwing her arms across the bed-rail, hid her face. Gabriel stood stockstill for a moment in astonishment and then followed her. As he passed in the way of the cheval-glass he caught sight of himself in full length, his broad, well-filled shirt-front, the face whose expression always puzzled him when he saw it in a mirror, and his glimmering gilt-rimmed eyeglasses. He halted a few paces from her and said:
“What about the song? Why does that make you cry?”
She raised her head from her arms and dried her eyes with the back of her hand like a child. A kinder note than he had intended went into his voice.
“Why, Gretta?” he asked.
“I am thinking about a person long ago who used to sing that song.”
“And who was the person long ago?” asked Gabriel, smiling.
“It was a person I used to know in Galway when I was living with my grandmother,” she said.
The smile passed away from Gabriel’s face. A dull anger began to gather again at the back of his mind and the dull fires of his lust began to glow angrily in his veins.
“Someone you were in love with?” he asked ironically.
“It was a young boy I used to know,” she answered, “named Michael Furey. He used to sing that song, The Lass of Aughrim. He was very delicate.”
Gabriel was silent. He did not wish her to think that he was interested in this delicate boy.
“I can see him so plainly,” she said, after a moment. “Such eyes as he had: big, dark eyes! And such an expression in them -- an expression!”
“O, then, you are in love with him?” said Gabriel.
“I used to go out walking with him,” she said, “when I was in Galway.”
A thought flew across Gabriel’s mind.
“Perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that Ivors girl?” he said coldly.
She looked at him and asked in surprise:
Her eyes made Gabriel feel awkward. He shrugged his shoulders and said:
“How do I know? To see him, perhaps.”
She looked away from him along the shaft of light towards the window in silence.
“He is dead,” she said at length. “He died when he was only seventeen. Isn’t it a terrible thing to die so young as that?”
“What was he?” asked Gabriel, still ironically.
“He was in the gasworks,” she said.
Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks. While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead.
He tried to keep up his tone of cold interrogation, but his voice when he spoke was humble and indifferent.
“I suppose you were in love with this Michael Furey, Gretta,” he said.
“I was great with him at that time,” she said.
Her voice was veiled and sad. Gabriel, feeling now how vain it would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed, caressed one of her hands and said, also sadly:
“And what did he die of so young, Gretta? Consumption, was it?”
“I think he died for me,” she answered.
A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer, as if, at that hour when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its vague world. But he shook himself free of it with an effort of reason and continued to caress her hand. He did not question her again, for he felt that she would tell him of herself. Her hand was warm and moist: it did not respond to his touch, but he continued to caress it just as he had caressed her first letter to him that spring morning.
“It was in the winter,” she said, “about the beginning of the winter when I was going to leave my grandmother’s and come up here to the convent. And he was ill at the time in his lodgings in Galway and wouldn’t be let out, and his people in Oughterard were written to. He was in decline, they said, or something like that. I never knew rightly.”
She paused for a moment and sighed.
“Poor fellow,” she said. “He was very fond of me and he was such a gentle boy. We used to go out together, walking, you know, Gabriel, like the way they do in the country. He was going to study singing only for his health. He had a very good voice, poor Michael Furey.”
“Well; and then?” asked Gabriel.
“And then when it came to the time for me to leave Galway and come up to the convent he was much worse and I wouldn’t be let see him so I wrote him a letter saying I was going up to Dublin and would be back in the summer, and hoping he would be better then.”
She paused for a moment to get her voice under control, and then went on:
“Then the night before I left, I was in my grandmother’s house in Nuns’ Island, packing up, and I heard gravel thrown up against the window. The window was so wet I couldn’t see, so I ran downstairs as I was and slipped out the back into the garden and there was the poor fellow at the end of the garden, shivering.”
“And did you not tell him to go back?” asked Gabriel.
“I implored of him to go home at once and told him he would get his death in the rain. But he said he did not want to live. I can see his eyes as well as well! He was standing at the end of the wall where there was a tree.”
“And did he go home?” asked Gabriel.
“Yes, he went home. And when I was only a week in the convent he died and he was buried in Oughterard, where his people came from. O, the day I heard that, that he was dead!”
She stopped, choking with sobs, and, overcome by emotion, flung herself face downward on the bed, sobbing in the quilt. Gabriel held her hand for a moment longer, irresolutely, and then, shy of intruding on her grief, let it fall gently and walked quietly to the window.
She was fast asleep.
Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her while she slept, as though he and she had never lived together as man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange, friendly pity for her entered his soul. He did not like to say even to himself that her face was no longer beautiful, but he knew that it was no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death.
Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A petticoat string dangled to the floor. One boot stood upright, its limp upper fallen down: the fellow of it lay upon its side. He wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had it proceeded? From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making when saying good-night in the hall, the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow. Poor Aunt Julia! She, too, would soon be a shade with the shade of Patrick Morkan and his horse. He had caught that haggard look upon her face for a moment when she was singing Arrayed for the Bridal. Soon, perhaps, he would be sitting in that same drawing-room, dressed in black, his silk hat on his knees. The blinds would be drawn down and Aunt Kate would be sitting beside him, crying and blowing her nose and telling him how Julia had died. He would cast about in his mind for some words that might console her, and would find only lame and useless ones. Yes, yes: that would happen very soon.
The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.
Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
The bestest funny meme most awesome I can believe people are saying; Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead,
bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay
crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained
gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the
bowl aloft and intoned:
--Introibo ad altare Dei.
Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and
called out coarsely:
--Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round
gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the
tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains.
Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent towards
him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his
throat and shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased
and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and
looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him,
equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair,
grained and hued like pale oak.
Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and
then covered the bowl smartly.
--Back to barracks! he said sternly.
He added in a preacher’s tone:
--For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine:
body and soul and blood and ouns. Slow music, please.
Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about
those white corpuscles. Silence, all.
He peered sideways up and gave a long slow whistle of
call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white
teeth glistening here and there with gold points.
Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered
through the calm.
--Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do
nicely. Switch off the current, will you?
He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his
watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his
gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl
recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A
pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.
--The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name,
an ancient Greek!
He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to
the parapet, laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped
up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down on the
edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his
mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and
lathered cheeks and neck.
Buck Mulligan’s gay voice went on.
--My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two
dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn’t it? Tripping and
sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will
you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight,
--Will he come? The jejune jesuit!
Ceasing, he began to shave with care.
--Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
--Yes, my love?
--How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?
Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right
--God, isn’t he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous
Saxon. He thinks you’re not a gentleman. God, these
bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion.
Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you
have the real Oxford manner. He can’t make you out. O,
my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade.
He shaved warily over his chin.
--He was raving all night about a black panther,
Stephen said. Where is his guncase?
--A woful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?
--I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear.
Out here in the dark with a man I don’t know raving and
moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You
saved men from drowning. I’m not a hero, however. If he
stays on here I am off.
Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade.
He hopped down from his perch and began to search his
trouser pockets hastily.
--Scutter! he cried thickly.
He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into
Stephen’s upper pocket, said:
--Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.
Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show
by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck
Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then, gazing over
the handkerchief, he said:
--The bard’s noserag! A new art colour for our Irish
poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can’t you?
He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over
Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly.
--God! he said quietly. Isn’t the sea what Algy calls it: a
great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The
scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the
Greeks! I must teach you. You must read them in the
original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother.
Come and look.
Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet.
Leaning on it he looked down on the water and on the
mailboat clearing the harbourmouth of Kingstown.
--Our mighty mother! Buck Mulligan said.
He turned abruptly his grey searching eyes from the sea
to Stephen’s face.
--The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said.
That’s why she won’t let me have anything to do with
--Someone killed her, Stephen said gloomily.
--You could have knelt down, damn it, Kinch, when
your dying mother asked you, Buck Mulligan said. I’m
hyperborean as much as you. But to think of your mother
begging you with her last breath to kneel down and pray
for her. And you refused. There is something sinister in
He broke off and lathered again lightly his farther
cheek. A tolerant smile curled his lips.
--But a lovely mummer! he murmured to himself.
Kinch, the loveliest mummer of them all!
He shaved evenly and with care, in silence, seriously.
Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned
his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of
his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain
of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come
to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose
brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and
rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute,
reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the
threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet
mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay
and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of
white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the
green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting
liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting.
Buck Mulligan wiped again his razorblade.
--Ah, poor dogsbody! he said in a kind voice. I must
give you a shirt and a few noserags. How are the
--They fit well enough, Stephen answered.
Buck Mulligan attacked the hollow beneath his
--The mockery of it, he said contentedly. Secondleg
they should be. God knows what poxy bowsy left them
off. I have a lovely pair with a hair stripe, grey. You’ll
look spiffing in them. I’m not joking, Kinch. You look
damn well when you’re dressed.
--Thanks, Stephen said. I can’t wear them if they are
--He can’t wear them, Buck Mulligan told his face in
the mirror. Etiquette is etiquette. He kills his mother but
he can’t wear grey trousers.
He folded his razor neatly and with stroking palps of
fingers felt the smooth skin.
Stephen turned his gaze from the sea and to the plump
face with its smokeblue mobile eyes.
--That fellow I was with in the Ship last night, said
Buck Mulligan, says you have g.p.i. He’s up in Dottyville
with Connolly Norman. General paralysis of the insane!
He swept the mirror a half circle in the air to flash the
tidings abroad in sunlight now radiant on the sea. His
curling shaven lips laughed and the edges of his white
glittering teeth. Laughter seized all his strong wellknit
--Look at yourself, he said, you dreadful bard!
Stephen bent forward and peered at the mirror held out
to him, cleft by a crooked crack. Hair on end. As he and
others see me. Who chose this face for me? This dogsbody
to rid of vermin. It asks me too.
--I pinched it out of the skivvy’s room, Buck Mulligan
said. It does her all right. The aunt always keeps
plainlooking servants for Malachi. Lead him not into
temptation. And her name is Ursula.
Laughing again, he brought the mirror away from
Stephen’s peering eyes.
--The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a
mirror, he said. If Wilde were only alive to see you!
Drawing back and pointing, Stephen said with
--It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked looking-glass
of a servant.
Buck Mulligan suddenly linked his arm in Stephen’s
and walked with him round the tower, his razor and
mirror clacking in the pocket where he had thrust them.
--It’s not fair to tease you like that, Kinch, is it? he said
kindly. God knows you have more spirit than any of
Parried again. He fears the lancet of my art as I fear that
of his. The cold steelpen.
--Cracked lookingglass of a servant! Tell that to the
oxy chap downstairs and touch him for a guinea. He’s
stinking with money and thinks you’re not a gentleman.
His old fellow made his tin by selling jalap to Zulus or
some bloody swindle or other. God, Kinch, if you and I
could only work together we might do something for the
island. Hellenise it.
Cranly’s arm. His arm.
--And to think of your having to beg from these
swine. I’m the only one that knows what you are. Why
don’t you trust me more? What have you up your nose
against me? Is it Haines? If he makes any noise here I’ll
bring down Seymour and we’ll give him a ragging worse
than they gave Clive Kempthorpe.
Young shouts of moneyed voices in Clive
Kempthorpe’s rooms. Palefaces: they hold their ribs with
laughter, one clasping another. O, I shall expire! Break the
news to her gently, Aubrey! I shall die! With slit ribbons
of his shirt whipping the air he hops and hobbles round
the table, with trousers down at heels, chased by Ades of
Magdalen with the tailor’s shears. A scared calf’s face
gilded with marmalade. I don’t want to be debagged!
Don’t you play the giddy ox with me!
Shouts from the open window startling evening in the
quadrangle. A deaf gardener, aproned, masked with
Matthew Arnold’s face, pushes his mower on the sombre
lawn watching narrowly the dancing motes of grasshalms.
To ourselves … new paganism … omphalos.
--Let him stay, Stephen said. There’s nothing wrong
with him except at night.
--Then what is it? Buck Mulligan asked impatiently.
Cough it up. I’m quite frank with you. What have you
against me now?
They halted, looking towards the blunt cape of Bray
Head that lay on the water like the snout of a sleeping
whale. Stephen freed his arm quietly.
--Do you wish me to tell you? he asked.
--Yes, what is it? Buck Mulligan answered. I don’t
He looked in Stephen’s face as he spoke. A light wind
passed his brow, fanning softly his fair uncombed hair and
stirring silver points of anxiety in his eyes.
Stephen, depressed by his own voice, said:
--Do you remember the first day I went to your house
after my mother’s death?
Buck Mulligan frowned quickly and said:
--What? Where? I can’t remember anything. I
remember only ideas and sensations. Why? What
happened in the name of God?
--You were making tea, Stephen said, and went across
the landing to get more hot water. Your mother and some
visitor came out of the drawingroom. She asked you who
was in your room.
--Yes? Buck Mulligan said. What did I say? I forget.
--You said, Stephen answered, O, it’s only Dedalus
whose mother is beastly dead.
A flush which made him seem younger and more
engaging rose to Buck Mulligan’s cheek.
--Did I say that? he asked. Well? What harm is that?
He shook his constraint from him nervously.
--And what is death, he asked, your mother’s or yours
or my own? You saw only your mother die. I see them
pop off every day in the Mater and Richmond and cut up
into tripes in the dissectingroom. It’s a beastly thing and
nothing else. It simply doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t kneel
down to pray for your mother on her deathbed when she
asked you. Why? Because you have the cursed jesuit strain
in you, only it’s injected the wrong way. To me it’s all a
mockery and beastly. Her cerebral lobes are not
functioning. She calls the doctor sir Peter Teazle and picks
buttercups off the quilt. Humour her till it’s over. You
crossed her last wish in death and yet you sulk with me
because I don’t whinge like some hired mute from
Lalouette’s. Absurd! I suppose I did say it. I didn’t mean to
offend the memory of your mother.
He had spoken himself into boldness. Stephen,
shielding the gaping wounds which the words had left in
his heart, said very coldly:
--I am not thinking of the offence to my mother.
--Of what then? Buck Mulligan asked.
--Of the offence to me, Stephen answered.
Buck Mulligan swung round on his heel.
--O, an impossible person! he exclaimed.
He walked off quickly round the parapet. Stephen
stood at his post, gazing over the calm sea towards the
headland. Sea and headland now grew dim. Pulses were
beating in his eyes, veiling their sight, and he felt the fever
of his cheeks.
A voice within the tower called loudly:
--Are you up there, Mulligan?
--I’m coming, Buck Mulligan answered.
He turned towards Stephen and said:
--Look at the sea. What does it care about offences?
Chuck Loyola, Kinch, and come on down. The Sassenach
wants his morning rashers.
His head halted again for a moment at the top of the
staircase, level with the roof:
--Don’t mope over it all day, he said. I’m
inconsequent. Give up the moody brooding.
His head vanished but the drone of his descending
voice boomed out of the stairhead:
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery
For Fergus rules the brazen cars.
Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning
peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore
and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by
lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The
twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the
harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite
wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.
A cloud began to cover the sun slowly, wholly,
shadowing the bay in deeper green. It lay beneath him, a
bowl of bitter waters. Fergus’ song: I sang it alone in the
house, holding down the long dark chords. Her door was
open: she wanted to hear my music. Silent with awe and
pity I went to her bedside. She was crying in her wretched
bed. For those words, Stephen: love’s bitter mystery.
Her secrets: old featherfans, tasselled dancecards,
powdered with musk, a gaud of amber beads in her locked
drawer. A birdcage hung in the sunny window of her
house when she was a girl. She heard old Royce sing in
the pantomime of Turko the Terrible and laughed with
others when he sang:
I am the boy
That can enjoy
Phantasmal mirth, folded away: muskperfumed.
And no more turn aside and brood.
Folded away in the memory of nature with her toys.
Memories beset his brooding brain. Her glass of water
from the kitchen tap when she had approached the
sacrament. A cored apple, filled with brown sugar, roasting
for her at the hob on a dark autumn evening. Her shapely
fingernails reddened by the blood of squashed lice from
the children’s shirts.
In a dream, silently, she had come to him, her wasted
body within its loose graveclothes giving off an odour of
wax and rosewood, her breath, bent over him with mute
secret words, a faint odour of wetted ashes.
Her glazing eyes, staring out of death, to shake and
bend my soul. On me alone. The ghostcandle to light her
agony. Ghostly light on the tortured face. Her hoarse loud
breath rattling in horror, while all prayed on their knees.
Her eyes on me to strike me down. Liliata rutilantium te
confessorum turma circumdet: iubilantium te virginum chorus
Ghoul! Chewer of corpses!
No, mother! Let me be and let me live.
Buck Mulligan’s voice sang from within the tower. It
came nearer up the staircase, calling again. Stephen, still
trembling at his soul’s cry, heard warm running sunlight
and in the air behind him friendly words.
--Dedalus, come down, like a good mosey. Breakfast is
ready. Haines is apologising for waking us last night. It’s all
--I’m coming, Stephen said, turning.
--Do, for Jesus’ sake, Buck Mulligan said. For my sake
and for all our sakes.
His head disappeared and reappeared.
--I told him your symbol of Irish art. He says it’s very
clever. Touch him for a quid, will you? A guinea, I mean.
--I get paid this morning, Stephen said.
--The school kip? Buck Mulligan said. How much?
Four quid? Lend us one.
--If you want it, Stephen said.
--Four shining sovereigns, Buck Mulligan c ried with
delight. We’ll have a glorious drunk to astonish the druidy
druids. Four omnipotent sovereigns.
He flung up his hands and tramped down the stone
stairs, singing out of tune with a Cockney accent:
O, won’t we have a merry time,
Drinking whisky, beer and wine!
O, won’t we have a merry time
On coronation day!
Warm sunshine merrying over the sea. The nickel
shavingbowl shone, forgotten, on the parapet. Why should
I bring it down? Or leave it there all day, forgotten
He went over to it, held it in his hands awhile, feeling
its coolness, smelling the clammy slaver of the lather in
which the brush was stuck. So I carried the boat of incense
then at Clongowes. I am another now and yet the same. A
servant too. A server of a servant.
In the gloomy domed livingroom of the tower Buck
Mulligan’s gowned form moved briskly to and fro about
the hearth, hiding and revealing its yellow glow. Two
shafts of soft daylight fell across the flagged floor from the
high barbacans: and at the meeting of their rays a cloud of
coalsmoke and fumes of fried grease floated, turning.
--We’ll be choked, Buck Mulligan said. Haines, open
that door, will you?
Stephen laid the shavingbowl on the locker. A tall
figure rose from the hammock where it had been sitting,
went to the doorway and pulled open the inner doors.
--Have you the key? a voice asked.
--Dedalus has it, Buck Mulligan said. Janey Mack, I’m
He howled, without looking up from the fire:
--It’s in the lock, Stephen said, coming forward.
The key scraped round harshly twice and, when the
heavy door had been set ajar, welcome light and bright air
entered. Haines stood at the doorway, looking out.
Stephen haled his upended valise to the table and sat down
to wait. Buck Mulligan tossed the fry on to the dish beside
him. Then he carried the dish and a large teapot over to
the table, set them down heavily and sighed with relief.
--I’m melting, he said, as the candle remarked when …
But, hush! Not a word more on that subject! Kinch, wake
up! Bread, butter, honey. Haines, come in. The grub is
ready. Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. Where’s the
sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk.
Stephen fetched the loaf and the pot of honey and the
buttercooler from the locker. Buck Mulligan sat down in a
--What sort of a kip is this? he said. I told her to come
--We can drink it black, Stephen said thirstily. There’s
a lemon in the locker.
--O, damn you and your Paris fads! Buck Mulligan
said. I want Sandycove milk.
Haines came in from the doorway and said quietly:
--That woman is coming up with the milk.
--The blessings of God on you! Buck Mulligan cried,
jumping up from his chair. Sit down. Pour out the tea
there. The sugar is in the bag. Here, I can’t go fumbling at
the damned eggs.
He hacked through the fry on the dish and slapped it
out on three plates, saying:
--In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
Haines sat down to pour out the tea.
--I’m giving you two lumps each, he said. But, I say,
Mulligan, you do make strong tea, don’t you?
Buck Mulligan, hewing thick slices from the loaf, said
in an old woman’s wheedling voice:
--When I makes tea I makes tea, as old mother Grogan
said. And when I makes water I makes water.
--By Jove, it is tea, Haines said.
Buck Mulligan went on hewing and wheedling:
--So I do, Mrs Cahill, says she. Begob, ma’am, says Mrs
Cahill, God send you don’t make them in the one pot.
He lunged towards his messmates in turn a thick slice
of bread, impaled on his knife.
--That’s folk, he said very earnestly, for your book,
Haines. Five lines of text and ten pages of notes about the
folk and the fishgods of Dundrum. Printed by the weird
sisters in the year of the big wind.
He turned to Stephen and asked in a fine puzzled
voice, lifting his brows:
--Can you recall, brother, is mother Grogan’s tea and
water pot spoken of in the Mabinogion or is it in the
--I doubt it, said Stephen gravely.
--Do you now? Buck Mulligan said in the same tone.
Your reasons, pray?
--I fancy, Stephen said as he ate, it did not exist in or
out of the Mabinogion. Mother Grogan was, one
imagines, a kinswoman of Mary Ann.
Buck Mulligan’s face smiled with delight.
--Charming! he said in a finical sweet voice, showing
his white teeth and blinking his eyes pleasantly. Do you
think she was? Quite charming!
Then, suddenly overclouding all his features, he
growled in a hoarsened rasping voice as he hewed again
vigorously at the loaf:
--For old Mary Ann
She doesn’t care a damn.
But, hising up her petticoats …
He crammed his mouth with fry and munched and
The doorway was darkened by an entering form.
--The milk, sir!
--Come in, ma’am, Mulligan said. Kinch, get the jug.
An old woman came forward and stood by Stephen’s
--That’s a lovely morning, sir, she said. Glory be to
--To whom? Mulligan said, glancing at her. Ah, to be
Stephen reached back and took the milkjug from the
--The islanders, Mulligan said to Haines casually, speak
frequently of the collector of prepuces.
--How much, sir? asked the old woman.
--A quart, Stephen said.
He watched her pour into the measure and thence into
the jug rich white milk, not hers. Old shrunken paps. She
poured again a measureful and a tilly. Old and secret she
had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger.
She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out.
Crouching by a patient cow at daybreak in the lush field, a
witch on her toadstool, her wrinkled fingers quick at the
squirting dugs. They lowed about her whom they knew,
dewsilky cattle. Silk of the kine and poor old woman,
names given her in old times. A wandering crone, lowly
form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay
betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the
secret morning. To serve or to upbraid, whether he could
not tell: but scorned to beg her favour.
--It is indeed, ma’am, Buck Mulligan said, pouring
milk into their cups.
--Taste it, sir, she said.
He drank at her bidding.
--If we could live on good food like that, he said to
her somewhat loudly, we wouldn’t have the country full
of rotten teeth and rotten guts. Living in a bogswamp,
eating cheap food and the streets paved with dust,
horsedung and consumptives’ spits.
--Are you a medical student, sir? the old woman asked.
--I am, ma’am, Buck Mulligan answered.
--Look at that now, she said.
Stephen listened in scornful silence. She bows her old
head to a voice that speaks to her loudly, her bonesetter,
her medicineman: me she slights. To the voice that will
shrive and oil for the grave all there is of her but her
woman’s unclean loins, of man’s flesh made not in God’s
likeness, the serpent’s prey. And to the loud voice that
now bids her be silent with wondering unsteady eyes.
--Do you understand what he says? Stephen asked her.
--Is it French you are talking, sir? the old woman said
Haines spoke to her again a longer speech, confidently.
--Irish, Buck Mulligan said. Is there Gaelic on you?
--I thought it was Irish, she said, by the sound of it.
Are you from the west, sir?
--I am an Englishman, Haines answered.
--He’s English, Buck Mulligan said, and he thinks we
ought to speak Irish in Ireland.
--Sure we ought to, the old woman said, and I’m
ashamed I don’t speak the language myself. I’m told it’s a
grand language by them that knows.
--Grand is no name for it, said Buck Mulligan.
Wonderful entirely. Fill us out some more tea, Kinch.
Would you like a cup, ma’am?
--No, thank you, sir, the old woman said, slipping the
ring of the milkcan on her forearm and about to go.
Haines said to her:
--Have you your bill? We had better pay her,
Mulligan, hadn’t we?
Stephen filled again the three cups.
--Bill, sir? she said, halting. Well, it’s seven mornings a
pint at twopence is seven twos is a shilling and twopence
over and these three mornings a quart at fourpence is three
quarts is a shilling. That’s a shilling and one and two is two
and two, sir.
Buck Mulligan sighed and, having filled his mouth with
a crust thickly buttered on both sides, stretched forth his
legs and began to search his trouser pockets.
--Pay up and look pleasant, Haines said to him,
Stephen filled a third cup, a spoonful of tea colouring
faintly the thick rich milk. Buck Mulligan brought up a
florin, twisted it round in his fingers and cried:
He passed it along the table towards the old woman,
--Ask nothing more of me, sweet. All I can give you I
Stephen laid the coin in her uneager hand.
--We’ll owe twopence, he said.
--Time enough, sir, she said, taking the coin. Time
enough. Good morning, sir.
She curtseyed and went out, followed by Buck
Mulligan’s tender chant:
--Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet.
He turned to Stephen and said:
--Seriously, Dedalus. I’m stony. Hurry out to your
school kip and bring us back some money. Today the
bards must drink and junket. Ireland expects that every
man this day will do his duty.
--That reminds me, Haines said, rising, that I have to
visit your national library today.
--Our swim first, Buck Mulligan said.
He turned to Stephen and asked blandly:
--Is this the day for your monthly wash, Kinch?
Then he said to Haine s:
--The unclean bard makes a point of washing once a
--All Ireland is washed by the gulfstream, Stephen said
as he let honey trickle over a slice of the loaf.
Haines from the corner where he was knotting easily a
scarf about the loose collar of his tennis shirt spoke:
--I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you
will let me.
Speaking to me. They wash and tub and scrub.
Agenbite of inwit. Conscience. Yet here’s a spot.
--That one about the cracked lookingglass of a servant
being the symbol of Irish art is deuced good.
Buck Mulligan kicked Stephen’s foot under the table
and said with warmth of tone:
--Wait till you hear him on Hamlet, Haines.
--Well, I mean it, Haines said, still speaking to
Stephen. I was just thinking of it when that poor old
creature came in.
--Would I make any money by it? Stephen asked.
Haines laughed and, as he took his soft grey hat from
the holdfast of the hammock, said:
--I don’t know, I’m sure.
He strolled out to the doorway. Buck Mulligan bent
across to Stephen and said with coarse vigour:
--You put your hoof in it now. What did you say that
--Well? Stephen said. The problem is to get money.
From whom? From the milkwoman or from him. It’s a
toss up, I think.
--I blow him out about you, Buck Mulligan said, and
then you come along with your lousy leer and your
gloomy jesuit jibes.
--I see little hope, Stephen said, from her or from him.
Buck Mulligan sighed tragically and laid his hand on
--From me, Kinch, he said.
In a suddenly changed tone he added:
--To tell you the God’s truth I think you’re right.
Damn all else they are good for. Why don’t you play them
as I do? To hell with them all. Let us get out of the kip.
He stood up, gravely ungirdled and disrobed himself of
his gown, saying resignedly:
--Mulligan is stripped of his garments.
He emptied his pockets on to the table.
--There’s your snotrag, he said.
And putting on his stiff collar and rebellious tie he
spoke to them, chiding them, and to his dangling
watchchain. His hands plunged and rummaged in his
trunk while he called for a clean handkerchief. God, we’ll
simply have to dress the character. I want puce gloves and
green boots. Contradiction. Do I contradict myself? Very
well then, I contradict myself. Mercurial Malachi. A limp
black missile flew out of his talking hands.
--And there’s your Latin quarter hat, he said.
Stephen picked it up and put it on. Haines called to
them from the doorway:
--Are you coming, you fellows?
--I’m ready, Buck Mulligan answered, going towards
the door. Come out, Kinch. You have eaten all we left, I
suppose. Resigned he passed out with grave words and
gait, saying, wellnigh with sorrow:
--And going forth he met Butterly.
Stephen, taking his ashplant from its leaningplace,
followed them out and, as they went down the ladder,
pulled to the slow iron door and locked it. He put the
huge key in his inner pocket.
At the foot of the ladder Buck Mulligan asked:
--Did you bring the key?
--I have it, Stephen said, preceding them.
He walked on. Behind him he heard Buck Mulligan
The bestest funny meme most awsome I can’t belive people are saying: The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid.
‘What should we drink?’ the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.
‘It’s pretty hot,’ the man said.
‘Let’s drink beer.’
‘Dos cervezas,’ the man said into the curtain.
‘Big ones?’ a woman asked from the doorway.
‘Yes. Two big ones.’
The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.
‘They look like white elephants,’ she said.
‘I’ve never seen one,’ the man drank his beer.
‘No, you wouldn’t have.’
‘I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’
The girl looked at the bead curtain. ‘They’ve painted something on it,’ she said. ‘What does it say?’
‘Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.’
‘Could we try it?’
The man called ‘Listen’ through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.
‘Four reales.’ ‘We want two Anis del Toro.’
‘Do you want it with water?’
‘I don’t know,’ the girl said. ‘Is it good with water?’
‘It’s all right.’
‘You want them with water?’ asked the woman.
‘Yes, with water.’
‘It tastes like liquorice,’ the girl said and put the glass down.
‘That’s the way with everything.’
‘Yes,’ said the girl. ‘Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.’
‘Oh, cut it out.’
‘You started it,’ the girl said. ‘I was being amused. I was having a fine time.’
‘Well, let’s try and have a fine time.’
‘All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?’
‘That was bright.’
‘I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?’
‘I guess so.’
The girl looked across at the hills.‘They’re lovely hills,’ she said. ‘They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.’
‘Should we have another drink?’
The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.
‘The beer’s nice and cool,’ the man said.
‘It’s lovely,’ the girl said.
‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really an operation at all.’
The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.
‘I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.’
The girl did not say anything.
‘I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.’
‘Then what will we do afterwards?’
‘We’ll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.’
‘What makes you think so?’
‘That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.’
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.
‘And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.’
‘I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.’
‘So have I,’ said the girl. ‘And afterwards they were all so happy.’
‘Well,’ the man said, ‘if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘And you really want to?’
‘I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.’
‘And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?’
‘I love you now. You know I love you.’
‘I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?’
‘I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.’
‘If I do it you won’t ever worry?’
‘I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.’
‘Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I don’t care about me.’
‘Well, I care about you.’
‘Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.’
‘I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.’
The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.
‘And we could have all this,’ she said. ‘And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.’
‘What did you say?’
‘I said we could have everything.’
‘We can have everything.’
‘No, we can’t.’
‘We can have the whole world.’
‘No, we can’t.’
‘We can go everywhere.’
‘No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.’
‘No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.’
‘But they haven’t taken it away.’
‘We’ll wait and see.’
‘Come on back in the shade,’ he said. ‘You mustn’t feel that way.’
‘I don’t feel any way,’ the girl said. ‘I just know things.’
‘I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do -’
‘Nor that isn’t good for me,’ she said. ‘I know. Could we have another beer?’
‘All right. But you’ve got to realize – ‘
‘I realize,’ the girl said. ‘Can’t we maybe stop talking?’
They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.
‘You’ve got to realize,’ he said, ‘ that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.’
‘Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.’
‘Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. And I know it’s
‘Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.’
‘Would you do something for me now?’
‘I’d do anything for you.’
‘Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.
‘But I don’t want you to,’ he said, ‘I don’t care anything about it.’
‘I’ll scream,’ the girl said.
The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. ‘The train comes in five minutes,’ she said.
‘What did she say?’ asked the girl.
‘That the train is coming in five minutes.’
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
‘I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,’ the man said. She smiled at him.
‘All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.’
He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.
‘Do you feel better?’ he asked.
‘I feel fine,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.’
The bestest funny meme most awesome i cant believe people are saying: THE story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless,
but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on
Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should
essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody
happened to say that it was the only case he had met in
which such a visitation had fallen on a child. The case, I may
mention, was that of an apparition in just such an old house
as had gathered us for the occasion--an appearance, of a
dreadful kind, to a little boy sleeping in the room with his
mother and waking her up in the terror of it; waking her not
to dissipate his dread and soothe him to sleep again, but to
encounter also, herself, before she had succeeded in doing
so, the same sight that had shaken him. It was this
observation that drew from Douglas--not immediately, but
later in the evening--a reply that had the interesting
consequence to which I call attention. Someone else told a
story not particularly effective, which I saw he was not
following. This I took for a sign that he had himself
something to produce and that we should only have to wait.
We waited in fact till two nights later; but that same evening,
before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind.
“I quite agree--in regard to Griffin’s ghost, or whatever
it was--that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender
an age, adds a particular touch. But it’s not the first
occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved
a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw,
what do you say to two children--?”
4 THETURN OF THESCREW
“We say, of course,” somebody exclaimed, “that they
give two turns! Also that we want to hear about them.”
I can see Douglas there before the fire, to which he had
got up to present his back, looking down at his interlocutor
with his hands in his pockets. “Nobody but me, till now, has
ever heard. It’s quite too horrible.” This, naturally, was
declared by several voices to give the thing the utmost price,
and our friend, with quiet art, prepared his triumph by
turning his eyes over the rest of us and going on: “It’s
beyond everything. Nothing at all that I know touches it.”
“For sheer terror?” I remember asking.
He seemed to say it was not so simple as that; to be
really at a loss how to qualify it. He passed his hand over his
eyes, made a little wincing grimace. “For dreadful--
“Oh, how delicious!” cried one of the women.
He took no notice of her; he looked at me, but as if,
instead of me, he saw what he spoke of. “For general
uncanny ugliness and horror and pain.”
“Well then,” I said, “just sit right down and begin.”
He turned round to the fire, gave a kick to a log,
watched it an instant. Then as he faced us again: “I can’t
begin. I shall have to send to town.” There was a unanimous
groan at this, and much reproach; after which, in his
preoccupied way, he explained. “The story’s written. It’s in a
locked drawer--it has not been out for years. I could write to
my man and enclose the key; he could send down the packet
as he finds it.” It was to me in particular that he appeared to
propound this--appeared almost to appeal for aid not to
hesitate. He had broken a thickness of ice, the formation of
many a winter; had had his reasons for a long silence. The
others resented postponement, but it was just his scruples
that charmed me. I adjured him to write by the first post and
to agree with us for an early hearing; then I asked him if the
experience in question had been his own. To this his answer
was prompt. “Oh, thank God, no!”
“And is the record yours? You took the thing down?”
“Nothing but the impression. I took that here”--he
tapped his heart. “I’ve never lost it.”
“Then your manuscript--?”
“Is in old, faded ink, and in the most beautiful hand.”
He hung fire again. “A woman’s. She has been dead these
twenty years. She sent me the pages in question before she
died.” They were all listening now, and of course there was
somebody to be arch, or at any rate to draw the inference.
But if he put the inference by without a smile it was also
without irritation. “She was a most charming person, but she
was ten years older than I. She was my sister’s governess,”
he quietly said. “She was the most agreeable woman I’ve
ever known in her position; she would have been worthy of
any whatever. It was long ago, and this episode was long
before. I was at Trinity, and I found her at home on my
coming down the second summer. I was much there that
year--it was a beautiful one; and we had, in her off-hours,
some strolls and talks in the garden--talks in which she
struck me as awfully clever and nice. Oh yes; don’t grin: I
liked her extremely and am glad to this day to think she liked
me too. If she hadn’t she wouldn’t have told me. She had
never told anyone. It wasn’t simply that she said so, but that
I knew she hadn’t. I was sure; I could see. You’ll easily
judge why when you hear.”
“Because the thing had been such a scare?”
He continued to fix me. “You’ll easily judge,” he
repeated: “you will.”
I fixed him, too. “I see. She was in love.”
6 THETURN OF THESCREW
He laughed for the first time. “You are acute. Yes, she
was in love. That is, she had been. That came out--she
couldn’t tell her story without its coming out. I saw it, and
she saw I saw it; but neither of us spoke of it. I remember the
time and the place--the corner of the lawn, the shade of the
great beeches and the long, hot summer afternoon. It wasn’t
a scene for a shudder; but oh--!” He quitted the fire and
dropped back into his chair.
“You’ll receive the packet Thursday morning?” I
“Probably not till the second post.”
“Well then; after dinner--”
“You’ll all meet me here?” He looked us round again.
“Isn’t anybody going?” It was almost the tone of hope.
“Everybody will stay!”
“I will--and I will!” cried the ladies whose departure
had been fixed. Mrs. Griffin, however, expressed the need
for a little more light. “Who was it she was in love with?”
“The story will tell,” I took upon myself to reply.
“Oh, I can’t wait for the story!”
“The story won’t tell,” said Douglas; “not in any literal,
“More’s the pity, then. That’s the only way I ever
“Won’t you tell, Douglas?” somebody else inquired.
He sprang to his feet again. “Yes--tomorrow. Now I
must go to bed. Good-night.” And quickly catching up a
candlestick, he left us slightly bewildered. From our end of
the great brown hall we heard his step on the stair;
whereupon Mrs. Griffin spoke. “Well, if I don’t know who
she was in love with, I know who he was.”
“She was ten years older,” said her husband.
“Raison de plus--at that age! But it’s rather nice, his
“Forty years!” Griffin put in.
“With this outbreak at last.”
“The outbreak,” I returned, “will make a tremendous
occasion of Thursday night;” and everyone so agreed with
me that, in the light of it, we lost all attention for everything
else. The last story, however incomplete and like the mere
opening of a serial, had been told; we handshook and
“candlestuck,” as somebody said, and went to bed.
I knew the next day that a letter containing the key had,
by the first post, gone off to his London apartments; but in
spite of--or perhaps just on account of--the eventual
diffusion of this knowledge we quite let him alone till after
dinner, till such an hour of the evening, in fact, as might best
accord with the kind of emotion on which our hopes were
fixed. Then he became as communicative as we could desire
and indeed gave us his best reason for being so. We had it
from him again before the fire in the hall, as we had had our
mild wonders of the previous night. It appeared that the
narrative he had promised to read us really required for a
proper intelligence a few words of prologue. Let me say here
distinctly, to have done with it, that this narrative, from an
exact transcript of my own made much later, is what I shall
presently give. Poor Douglas, before his death--when it was
in sight--committed to me the manuscript that reached him
on the third of these days and that, on the same spot, with
immense effect, he began to read to our hushed little circle
on the night of the fourth. The departing ladies who had said
they would stay didn’t, of course, thank heaven, stay: they
departed, in consequence of arrangements made, in a rage of
curiosity, as they professed, produced by the touches with
which he had already worked us up. But that only made his
8 THETURN OF THESCREW
little final auditory more compact and select, kept it, round
the hearth, subject to a common thrill.
The first of these touches conveyed that the written
statement took up the tale at a point after it had, in a manner,
begun. The fact to be in possession of was therefore that his
old friend, the youngest of several daughters of a poor
country parson, had, at the age of twenty, on taking service
for the first time in the schoolroom, come up to London, in
trepidation, to answer in person an advertisement that had
already placed her in brief correspondence with the
advertiser. This person proved, on her presenting herself, for
judgment, at a house in Harley Street, that impressed her as
vast and imposing--this prospective patron proved a
gentleman, a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as
had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a
fluttered, anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage. One
could easily fix his type; it never, happily, dies out. He was
handsome and bold and pleasant, off-hand and gay and kind.
He struck her, inevitably, as gallant and splendid, but what
took her most of all and gave her the courage she afterwards
showed was that he put the whole thing to her as a kind of
favour, an obligation he should gratefully incur. She
conceived him as rich, but as fearfully extravagant--saw him
all in a glow of high fashion, of good looks, of expensive
habits, of charming ways with women. He had for his own
town residence a big house filled with the spoils of travel and
the trophies of the chase; but it was to his country home, an
old family place in Essex, that he wished her immediately to
He had been left, by the death of their parents in India,
guardian to a small nephew and a small niece, children of a
younger, a military brother, whom he had lost two years
before. These children were, by the strangest of chances for a
man in his position--a lone man without the right sort of
experience or a grain of patience--very heavily on his hands.
It had all been a great worry and, on his own part doubtless,
a series of blunders, but he immensely pitied the poor chicks
and had done all he could: had in particular sent them down
to his other house, the proper place for them being of course
the country, and kept them there, from the first, with the best
people he could find to look after them, parting even with his
own servants to wait on them and going down himself,
whenever he might, to see how they were doing. The
awkward thing was that they had practically no other
relations and that his own affairs took up all his time. He had
put them in possession of Bly, which was healthy and secure,
and had placed at the head of their little establishment--but
below stairs only--an excellent woman, Mrs. Grose, whom
he was sure his visitor would like and who had formerly
been maid to his mother. She was now housekeeper and was
also acting for the time as superintendent to the little girl, of
whom, without children of her own, she was, by good luck,
extremely fond. There were plenty of people to help, but of
course the young lady who should go down as governess
would be in supreme authority. She would also have, in
holidays, to look after the small boy, who had been for a
term at school--young as he was to be sent, but what else
could be done?--and who, as the holidays were about to
begin, would be back from one day to the other. There had
been for the two children at first a young lady whom they
had had the misfortune to lose. She had done for them quite
beautifully--she was a most respectable person--till her
death, the great awkwardness of which had, precisely, left no
alternative but the school for little Miles. Mrs. Grose, since
then, in the way of manners and things, had done as she
could for Flora; and there were, further, a cook, a housemaid,
10 THETURN OF THESCREW
a dairywoman, an old pony, an old groom, and an old
gardener, all likewise thoroughly respectable.
So far had Douglas presented his picture when someone
put a question. “And what did the former governess die
of?--of so much respectability?”
Our friend’s answer was prompt. “That will come out. I
“Excuse me--I thought that was just what you are
“In her successor’s place,” I suggested, “I should have
wished to learn if the office brought with it--”
“Necessary danger to life?” Douglas completed my
thought. “She did wish to learn, and she did learn. You shall
hear tomorrow what she learnt. Meanwhile, of course, the
prospect struck her as slightly grim. She was young, untried,
nervous: it was a vision of serious duties and little company,
of really great loneliness. She hesitated--took a couple of
days to consult and consider. But the salary offered much
exceeded her modest measure, and on a second interview she
faced the music, she engaged.” And Douglas, with this, made
a pause that, for the benefit of the company, moved me to
“The moral of which was of course the seduction
exercised by the splendid young man. She succumbed to it.”
He got up and, as he had done the night before, went to
the fire, gave a stir to a log with his foot, then stood a
moment with his back to us. “She saw him only twice.”
“Yes, but that’s just the beauty of her passion.”
A little to my surprise, on this, Douglas turned round to
me. “It was the beauty of it. There were others,” he went on,
“who hadn’t succumbed. He told her frankly all his
difficulty--that for several applicants the conditions had
been prohibitive. They were, somehow, simply afraid. It
sounded dull--it sounded strange; and all the more so
because of his main condition.”
“That she should never trouble him--but never, never:
neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything; only
meet all questions herself, receive all moneys from his
solicitor, take the whole thing over and let him alone. She
promised to do this, and she mentioned to me that when, for
a moment, disburdened, delighted, he held her hand,
thanking her for the sacrifice, she already felt rewarded.”
“But was that all her reward?” one of the ladies asked.
“She never saw him again.”
“Oh!” said the lady; which, as our friend immediately
left us again, was the only other word of importance
contributed to the subject till, the next night, by the corner of
the hearth, in the best chair, he opened the faded red cover of
a thin old-fashioned gilt-edged album. The whole thing took
indeed more nights than one, but on the first occasion the
same lady put another question. “What is your title?”
“I haven’t one.”
“Oh, I have!” I said. But Douglas, without heeding me,
had begun to read with a fine clearness that was like a
rendering to the ear of the beauty of his author’s hand.
I REMEMBER the whole beginning as a succession of flights
and drops, a little see-saw of the right throbs and the wrong.
After rising, in town, to meet his appeal, I had at all events a
couple of very bad days--found myself doubtful again, felt
indeed sure I had made a mistake. In this state of mind I
spent the long hours of bumping, swinging coach that carried
me to the stopping-place at which I was to be met by a
vehicle from the house. This convenience, I was told, had
been ordered, and I found, toward the close of the June
afternoon, a commodious fly in waiting for me. Driving at
that hour, on a lovely day, through a country to which the
summer sweetness seemed to offer me a friendly welcome,
my fortitude mounted afresh and, as we turned into the
avenue, encountered a reprieve that was probably but a proof
of the point to which it had sunk. I suppose I had expected,
or had dreaded, something so melancholy that what greeted
me was a good surprise. I remember as a most pleasant
impression the broad, clear front, its open windows and fresh
curtains and the pair of maids looking out; I remember the
lawn and the bright flowers and the crunch of my wheels on
the gravel and the clustered treetops over which the rooks
circled and cawed in the golden sky. The scene had a
greatness that made it a different affair from my own scant
home, and there immediately appeared at the door, with a
little girl in her hand, a civil person who dropped me as
decent a curtsey as if I had been the mistress or a
distinguished visitor. I had received in Harley Street a
narrower notion of the place, and that, as I recalled it, made
me think the proprietor still more of a gentleman, suggested
that what I was to enjoy might be something beyond his
I had no drop again till the next day, for I was carried
triumphantly through the following hours by my introduction
to the younger of my pupils. The little girl who accompanied
Mrs. Grose appeared to me on the spot a creature so
charming as to make it a great fortune to have to do with her.
She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen, and I
afterwards wondered that my employer had not told me more
of her. I slept little that night--I was too much excited; and
this astonished me too, I recollect, remained with me, adding
to my sense of the liberality with which I was treated. The
large, impressive room, one of the best in the house, the
great state bed, as I almost felt it, the full, figured draperies,
the long glasses in which, for the first time, I could see
myself from head to foot, all struck me--like the
extraordinary charm of my small charge--as so many things
thrown in. It was thrown in as well, from the first moment,
that I should get on with Mrs. Grose in a relation over which,
on my way, in the coach, I fear I had rather brooded. The
only thing indeed that in this early outlook might have made
me shrink again was the clear circumstance of her being so
glad to see me. I perceived within half an hour that she was
so glad--stout, simple, plain, clean, wholesome woman--as
to be positively on her guard against showing it too much. I
wondered even then a little why she should wish not to show
it, and that, with reflection, with suspicion, might of course
have made me uneasy.
But it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness
in a connection with anything so beatific as the radiant image
of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had
probably more than anything else to do with the restlessness
14 THETURN OF THESCREW
that, before morning, made me several times rise and wander
about my room to take in the whole picture and prospect; to
watch, from my open window, the faint summer dawn, to
look at such portions of the rest of the house as I could catch,
and to listen, while, in the fading dusk, the first birds began
to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less
natural and not without, but within, that I had fancied I
heard. There had been a moment when I believed I
recognised, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been
another when I found myself just consciously starting as at
the passage, before my door, of a light footstep. But these
fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off, and it
is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other
and subsequent matters that they now come back to me. To
watch, teach, “form” little Flora would too evidently be the
making of a happy and useful life. It had been agreed
between us downstairs that after this first occasion I should
have her as a matter of course at night, her small white bed
being already arranged, to that end, in my room. What I had
undertaken was the whole care of her, and she had remained,
just this last time, with Mrs. Grose only as an effect of our
consideration for my inevitable strangeness and her natural
timidity. In spite of this timidity--which the child herself, in
the oddest way in the world, had been perfectly frank and
brave about, allowing it, without a sign of uncomfortable
consciousness, with the deep, sweet serenity indeed of one of
Raphael’s holy infants, to be discussed, to be imputed to her
and to determine us--I felt quite sure she would presently
like me. It was part of what I already liked Mrs. Grose
herself for, the pleasure I could see her feel in my admiration
and wonder as I sat at supper with four tall candles and with
my pupil, in a high chair and a bib, brightly facing me,
between them, over bread and milk. There were naturally
things that in Flora’s presence could pass between us only as
prodigious and gratified looks, obscure and roundabout
“And the little boy--does he look like her? Is he too so
One wouldn’t flatter a child. “Oh, Miss, most
remarkable. If you think well of this one!”--and she stood
there with a plate in her hand, beaming at our companion,
who looked from one of us to the other with placid heavenly
eyes that contained nothing to check us.
“Yes; if I do--?”
“You will be carried away by the little gentleman!”
“Well, that, I think, is what I came for--to be carried
away. I’m afraid, however,” I remember feeling the impulse
to add, “I’m rather easily carried away. I was carried away in
I can still see Mrs. Grose’s broad face as she took this
in. “In Harley Street?”
“In Harley Street.”
“Well, Miss, you’re not the first--and you won’t be the
“Oh, I’ve no pretension,” I could laugh, “to being the
only one. My other pupil, at any rate, as I understand, comes
“Not tomorrow--Friday, Miss. He arrives, as you did,
by the coach, under care of the guard, and is to be met by the
I forthwith expressed that the proper as well as the
pleasant and friendly thing would be therefore that on the
arrival of the public conveyance I should be in waiting for
him with his little sister; an idea in which Mrs. Grose
concurred so heartily that I somehow took her manner as a
kind of comforting pledge--never falsified, thank heaven!--
16 THETURN OF THESCREW
that we should on every question be quite at one. Oh, she
was glad I was there!
What I felt the next day was, I suppose, nothing that
could be fairly called a reaction from the cheer of my arrival;
it was probably at the most only a slight oppression produced
by a fuller measure of the scale, as I walked round them,
gazed up at them, took them in, of my new circumstances.
They had, as it were, an extent and mass for which I had not
been prepared and in the presence of which I found myself,
freshly, a little scared as well as a little proud. Lessons, in
this agitation, certainly suffered some delay; I reflected that
my first duty was, by the gentlest arts I could contrive, to
win the child into the sense of knowing me. I spent the day
with her out of doors; I arranged with her, to her great
satisfaction, that it should be she, she only, who might show
me the place. She showed it step by step and room by room
and secret by secret, with droll, delightful, childish talk about
it and with the result, in half an hour, of our becoming
immense friends. Young as she was, I was struck, throughout
our little tour, with her confidence and courage with the way,
in empty chambers and dull corridors, on crooked staircases
that made me pause and even on the summit of an old
machicolated square tower that made me dizzy, her morning
music, her disposition to tell me so many more things than
she asked, rang out and led me on. I have not seen Bly since
the day I left it, and I dare say that to my older and more
informed eyes it would now appear sufficiently contracted.
But as my little conductress, with her hair of gold and her
frock of blue, danced before me round corners and pattered
down passages, I had the view of a castle of romance
inhabited by a rosy sprite, such a place as would somehow,
for diversion of the young idea, take all colour out of
storybooks and fairy-tales. Wasn’t it just a storybook over
which I had fallen a-doze and a-dream? No; it was a big,
ugly, antique, but convenient house, embodying a few
features of a building still older, half replaced and half
utilised, in which I had the fancy of our being almost as lost
as a handful of passengers in a great drifting ship. Well, I
was, strangely, at the helm!
THIS came home to me when, two days later, I drove over
with Flora to meet, as Mrs. Grose said, the little gentleman;
and all the more for an incident that, presenting itself the
second evening, had deeply disconcerted me. The first day
had been, on the whole, as I have expressed, reassuring; but I
was to see it wind up in keen apprehension. The postbag, that
evening,--it came late,--contained a letter for me, which,
however, in the hand of my employer, I found to be
composed but of a few words enclosing another, addressed
to himself, with a seal still unbroken. “This, I recognise, is
from the head-master, and the head-master’s an awful bore.
Read him, please; deal with him; but mind you don’t report.
Not a word. I’m off!” I broke the seal with a great effort--so
great a one that I was a long time coming to it; took the
unopened missive at last up to my room and only attacked it
just before going to bed. I had better have let it wait till
morning, for it gave me a second sleepless night. With no
counsel to take, the next day, I was full of distress; and it
finally got so the better of me that I determined to open
myself at least to Mrs. Grose.
“What does it mean? The child’s dismissed his school.”
She gave me a look that I remarked at the moment;
then, visibly, with a quick blankness, seemed to try to take it
back. “But aren’t they all--?”
“Sent home--yes. But only for the holidays. Miles may
never go back at all.”
Consciously, under my attention, she reddened. “They
won’t take him?”
“They absolutely decline.”
At this she raised her eyes, which she had turned from
me; I saw them fill with good tears. “What has he done?”
I hesitated; then I judged best simply to hand her my
letter--which, however, had the effect of making her,
without taking it, simply put her hands behind her. She
shook her head sadly. “Such things are not for me, Miss.”
My counsellor couldn’t read! I winced at my mistake,
which I attenuated as I could, and opened my letter again to
repeat it to her; then, faltering in the act and folding it up
once more, I put it back in my pocket. “Is he really bad?”
The tears were still in her eyes. “Do the gentlemen say
“They go into no particulars. They simply express their
regret that it should be impossible to keep him. That can
have only one meaning.” Mrs. Grose listened with dumb
emotion; she forbore to ask me what this meaning might be;
so that, presently, to put the thing with some coherence and
with the mere aid of her presence to my own mind, I went
on: “That he’s an injury to the others.”
At this, with one of the quick turns of simple folk, she
suddenly flamed up. “Master Miles! him an injury?”
There was such a flood of good faith in it that, though I
had not yet seen the child, my very fears made me jump to
the absurdity of the idea. I found myself, to meet my friend
the better, offering it, on the spot, sarcastically. “To his poor
little innocent mates!”
“It’s too dreadful,” cried Mrs. Grose, “to say such cruel
things! Why, he’s scarce ten years old.”
“Yes, yes; it would be incredible.”
She was evidently grateful for such a profession. “See
him, Miss, first. Then believe it!” I felt forthwith a new
impatience to see him; it was the beginning of a curiosity
20 THETURN OF THESCREW
that, for all the next hours, was to deepen almost to pain.
Mrs. Grose was aware, I could judge, of what she had
produced in me, and she followed it up with assurance. “You
might as well believe it of the little lady. Bless her,” she
added the next moment--“look at her!”
I turned and saw that Flora, whom, ten minutes before, I
had established in the schoolroom with a sheet of white
paper, a pencil, and a copy of nice “round O’s,” now
presented herself to view at the open door. She expressed in
her little way an extraordinary detachment from disagreeable
duties, looking to me, however, with a great childish light
that seemed to offer it as a mere result of the affection she
had conceived for my person, which had rendered necessary
that she should follow me. I needed nothing more than this to
feel the full force of Mrs. Grose’s comparison, and, catching
my pupil in my arms, covered her with kisses in which there
was a sob of atonement.
None the less, the rest of the day I watched for further
occasion to approach my colleague, especially as, toward
evening, I began to fancy she rather sought to avoid me. I
overtook her, I remember, on the staircase; we went down
together, and at the bottom I detained her, holding her there
with a hand on her arm. “I take what you said to me at noon
as a declaration that you’ve never known him to be bad.”
She threw back her head; she had clearly, by this time,
and very honestly, adopted an attitude. “Oh, never known
him--I don’t pretend that!”
I was upset again. “Then you have known him--?”
“Yes indeed, Miss, thank God!”
On reflection I accepted this. “You mean that a boy who
“Is no boy for me!”
I held her tighter. “You like them with the spirit to be
naughty?” Then, keeping pace with her answer, “So do I!” I
eagerly brought out. “But not to the degree to contaminate--”
“To contaminate?”--my big word left her at a loss. I
explained it. “To corrupt.”
She stared, taking my meaning in; but it produced in her
an odd laugh. “Are you afraid he’ll corrupt you?” She put the
question with such a fine bold humour that, with a laugh, a
little silly doubtless, to match her own, I gave way for the
time to the apprehension of ridicule.
But the next day, as the hour for my drive approached, I
cropped up in another place. “What was the lady who was
“The last governess? She was also young and pretty--
almost as young and almost as pretty, Miss, even as you.”
“Ah, then, I hope her youth and her beauty helped her!”
I recollect throwing off. “He seems to like us young and
“Oh, he did,” Mrs. Grose assented: “it was the way he
liked everyone!” She had no sooner spoken indeed than she
caught herself up. “I mean that’s his way--the master’s.”
I was struck. “But of whom did you speak first?”
She looked blank, but she coloured. “Why, of him.”
“Of the master?”
“Of who else?”
There was so obviously no one else that the next
moment I had lost my impression of her having accidentally
said more than she meant; and I merely asked what I wanted
to know. “Did she see anything in the boy--?”
“That wasn’t right? She never told me.”
I had a scruple, but I overcame it. “Was she careful--
22 THETURN OF THESCREW
Mrs. Grose appeared to try to be conscientious. “About
“But not about all?”
Again she considered. “Well, Miss--she’s gone. I
won’t tell tales.”
“I quite understand your feeling,” I hastened to reply;
but I thought it, after an instant, not opposed to this
concession to pursue: “Did she die here?”
“No--she went off.”
I don’t know what there was in this brevity of Mrs.
Grose’s that struck me as ambiguous. “Went off to die?”
Mrs. Grose looked straight out of the window, but I felt that,
hypothetically, I had a right to know what young persons
engaged for Bly were expected to do. “She was taken ill, you
mean, and went home?”
“She was not taken ill, so far as appeared, in this house.
She left it, at the end of the year, to go home, as she said, for
a short holiday, to which the time she had put in had
certainly given her a right. We had then a young woman--a
nursemaid who had stayed on and who was a good girl and
clever; and she took the children altogether for the interval.
But our young lady never came back, and at the very
moment I was expecting her I heard from the master that she
I turned this over. “But of what?”
“He never told me! But please, Miss,” said Mrs. Grose,
“I must get to my work.”
HER thus turning her back on me was fortunately not, for my
just preoccupations, a snub that could check the growth of
our mutual esteem. We met, after I had brought home little
Miles, more intimately than ever on the ground of my
stupefaction, my general emotion: so monstrous was I then
ready to pronounce it that such a child as had now been
revealed to me should be under an interdict. I was a little late
on the scene, and I felt, as he stood wistfully looking out for
me before the door of the inn at which the coach had put him
down, that I had seen him, on the instant, without and within,
in the great glow of freshness, the same positive fragrance of
purity, in which I had, from the first moment, seen his little
sister. He was incredibly beautiful, and Mrs. Grose had put
her finger on it: everything but a sort of passion of
tenderness for him was swept away by his presence. What I
then and there took him to my heart for was something
divine that I have never found to the same degree in any
child--his indescribable little air of knowing nothing in the
world but love. It would have been impossible to carry a bad
name with a greater sweetness of innocence, and by the time
I had got back to Bly with him I remained merely
bewildered--so far, that is, as I was not outraged--by the
sense of the horrible letter locked up in my room, in a
drawer. As soon as I could compass a private word with Mrs.
Grose I declared to her that it was grotesque.
She promptly understood me. “You mean the cruel
24 THETURN OF THESCREW
“It doesn’t live an instant. My dear woman, look at
She smiled at my pretension to have discovered his
charm. “I assure you, Miss, I do nothing else! What will you
say, then?” she immediately added.
“In answer to the letter?” I had made up my mind.
“And to his uncle?”
I was incisive. “Nothing.”
“And to the boy himself?”
I was wonderful. “Nothing.”
She gave with her apron a great wipe to her mouth.
“Then I’ll stand by you. We’ll see it out.”
“We’ll see it out!” I ardently echoed, giving her my
hand to make it a vow.
She held me there a moment, then whisked up her apron
again with her detached hand. “Would you mind, Miss, if I
used the freedom--”
“To kiss me? No!” I took the good creature in my arms
and, after we had embraced like sisters, felt still more
fortified and indignant.
This, at all events, was for the time: a time so full that,
as I recall the way it went, it reminds me of all the art I now
need to make it a little distinct. What I look back at with
amazement is the situation I accepted. I had undertaken, with
my companion, to see it out, and I was under a charm,
apparently, that could smooth away the extent and the far
and difficult connections of such an effort. I was lifted aloft
on a great wave of infatuation and pity. I found it simple, in
my ignorance, my confusion, and perhaps my conceit, to
assume that I could deal with a boy whose education for the
world was all on the point of beginning. I am unable even to
remember at this day what proposal I framed for the end of
his holidays and the resumption of his studies. Lessons with
me, indeed, that charming summer, we all had a theory that
he was to have; but I now feel that, for weeks, the lessons
must have been rather my own. I learnt something--at first
certainly--that had not been one of the teachings of my
small, smothered life; learnt to be amused, and even
amusing, and not to think for the morrow. It was the first
time, in a manner, that I had known space and air and
freedom, all the music of summer and all the mystery of
nature. And then there was consideration--and consideration
was sweet. Oh, it was a trap--not designed, but deep--to my
imagination, to my delicacy, perhaps to my vanity; to
whatever, in me, was most excitable. The best way to picture
it all is to say that I was off my guard. They gave me so little
trouble--they were of a gentleness so extraordinary. I used
to speculate--but even this with a dim disconnectedness--as
to how the rough future (for all futures are rough!) would
handle them and might bruise them. They had the bloom of
health and happiness; and yet, as if I had been in charge of a
pair of little grandees, of princes of the blood, for whom
everything, to be right, would have to be enclosed and
protected, the only form that, in my fancy, the after-years
could take for them was that of a romantic, a really royal
extension of the garden and the park. It may be, of course,
above all, that what suddenly broke into this gives the
previous time a charm of stillness--that hush in which
something gathers or crouches. The change was actually like
the spring of a beast.
In the first weeks the days were long; they often, at their
finest, gave me what I used to call my own hour, the hour
when, for my pupils, tea-time and bed-time having come and
gone, I had, before my final retirement, a small interval
alone. Much as I liked my companions, this hour was the
26 THETURN OF THESCREW
thing in the day I liked most; and I liked it best of all when,
as the light faded--or rather, I should say, the day lingered
and the last calls of the last birds sounded, in a flushed sky,
from the old trees--I could take a turn into the grounds and
enjoy, almost with a sense of property that amused and
flattered me, the beauty and dignity of the place. It was a
pleasure at these moments to feel myself tranquil and
justified; doubtless, perhaps, also to reflect that by my
discretion, my quiet good sense and general high propriety, I
was giving pleasure--if he ever thought of it!--to the person
to whose pressure I had responded. What I was doing was
what he had earnestly hoped and directly asked of me, and
that I could, after all, do it proved even a greater joy than I
had expected. I dare say I fancied myself, in short, a
remarkable young woman and took comfort in the faith that
this would more publicly appear. Well, I needed to be
remarkable to offer a front to the remarkable things that
presently gave their first sign.
It was plump, one afternoon, in the middle of my very
hour: the children were tucked away, and I had come out for
my stroll. One of the thoughts that, as I don’t in the least
shrink now from noting, used to be with me in these
wanderings was that it would be as charming as a charming
story suddenly to meet someone. Someone would appear
there at the turn of a path and would stand before me and
smile and approve. I didn’t ask more than that--I only asked
that he should know; and the only way to be sure he knew
would be to see it, and the kind light of it, in his handsome
face. That was exactly present to me--by which I mean the
face was--when, on the first of these occasions, at the end of
a long June day, I stopped short on emerging from one of the
plantations and coming into view of the house. What arrested
me on the spot--and with a shock much greater than any
vision had allowed for--was the sense that my imagination
had, in a flash, turned real. He did stand there!--but high up,
beyond the lawn and at the very top of the tower to which,
on that first morning, little Flora had conducted me. This
tower was one of a pair--square, incongruous, crenelated
structures--that were distinguished, for some reason, though
I could see little difference, as the new and the old. They
flanked opposite ends of the house and were probably
architectural absurdities, redeemed in a measure indeed by
not being wholly disengaged nor of a height too pretentious,
dating, in their gingerbread antiquity, from a romantic
revival that was already a respectable past. I admired them,
had fancies about them, for we could all profit in a degree,
especially when they loomed through the dusk, by the
grandeur of their actual battlements; yet it was not at such an
elevation that the figure I had so often invoked seemed most
It produced in me, this figure, in the clear twilight, I
remember, two distinct gasps of emotion, which were,
sharply, the shock of my first and that of my second surprise.
My second was a violent perception of the mistake of my
first: the man who met my eyes was not the person I had
precipitately supposed. There came to me thus a
bewilderment of vision of which, after these years, there is
no living view that I can hope to give. An unknown man in a
lonely place is a permitted object of fear to a young woman
privately bred; and the figure that faced me was--a few
more seconds assured me--as little anyone else I knew as it
was the image that had been in my mind. I had not seen it in
Harley Street--I had not seen it anywhere. The place,
moreover, in the strangest way in the world, had, on the
instant, and by the very fact of its appearance, become a
solitude. To me at least, making my statement here with a
28 THETURN OF THESCREW
deliberation with which I have never made it, the whole
feeling of the moment returns. It was as if, while I took in--
what I did take in--all the rest of the scene had been stricken
with death. I can hear again, as I write, the intense hush in
which the sounds of evening dropped. The rooks stopped
cawing in the golden sky and the friendly hour lost, for the
minute, all its voice. But there was no other change in nature,
unless indeed it were a change that I saw with a stranger
sharpness. The gold was still in the sky, the clearness in the
air, and the man who looked at me over the battlements was
as definite as a picture in a frame. That’s how I thought, with
extraordinary quickness, of each person that he might have
been and that he was not. We were confronted across our
distance quite long enough for me to ask myself with
intensity who then he was and to feel, as an effect of my
inability to say, a wonder that in a few instants more became
The great question, or one of these, is, afterwards, I
know, with regard to certain matters, the question of how
long they have lasted. Well, this matter of mine, think what
you will of it, lasted while I caught at a dozen possibilities,
none of which made a difference for the better, that I could
see, in there having been in the house--and for how long,
above all?--a person of whom I was in ignorance. It lasted
while I just bridled a little with the sense that my office
demanded that there should be no such ignorance and no
such person. It lasted while this visitant, at all events,--and
there was a touch of the strange freedom, as I remember, in
the sign of familiarity of his wearing no hat,--seemed to fix
me, from his position, with just the question, just the scrutiny
through the fading light, that his own presence provoked. We
were too far apart to call to each other, but there was a
moment at which, at shorter range, some challenge between
us, breaking the hush, would have been the right result of our
straight mutual stare. He was in one of the angles, the one
away from the house, very erect, as it struck me, and with
both hands on the ledge. So I saw him as I see the letters I
form on this page; then, exactly, after a minute, as if to add
to the spectacle, he slowly changed his place--passed,
looking at me hard all the while, to the opposite corner of the
platform. Yes, I had the sharpest sense that during this transit
he never took his eyes from me, and I can see at this moment
the way his hand, as he went, passed from one of the
crenelations to the next. He stopped at the other corner, but
less long, and even as he turned away still markedly fixed
me. He turned away; that was all I knew.
IT was not that I didn’t wait, on this occasion, for more, for I
was rooted as deeply as I was shaken. Was there a “secret” at
Bly--a mystery of Udolpho or an insane, an unmentionable
relative kept in unsuspected confinement? I can’t say how
long I turned it over, or how long, in a confusion of curiosity
and dread, I remained where I had my collision; I only recall
that when I re-entered the house darkness had quite closed
in. Agitation, in the interval, certainly had held me and
driven me, for I must, in circling about the place, have
walked three miles; but I was to be, later on, so much more
overwhelmed that this mere dawn of alarm was a
comparatively human chill. The most singular part of it in
fact--singular as the rest had been--was the part I became,
in the hall, aware of in meeting Mrs. Grose. This picture
comes back to me in the general train--the impression, as I
received it on my return, of the wide white panelled space,
bright in the lamplight and with its portraits and red carpet,
and of the good surprised look of my friend, which
immediately told me she had missed me. It came to me
straightway, under her contact, that, with plain heartiness,
mere relieved anxiety at my appearance, she knew nothing
whatever that could bear upon the incident I had there ready
for her. I had not suspected in advance that her comfortable
face would pull me up, and I somehow measured the
importance of what I had seen by my thus finding myself
hesitate to mention it. Scarce anything in the whole history
seems to me so odd as this fact that my real beginning of fear
was one, as I may say, with the instinct of sparing my
companion. On the spot, accordingly, in the pleasant hall and
with her eyes on me, I, for a reason that I couldn’t then have
phrased, achieved an inward resolution--offered a vague
pretext for my lateness and, with the plea of the beauty of the
night and of the heavy dew and wet feet, went as soon as
possible to my room.
Here it was another affair; here, for many days after, it
was a queer affair enough. There were hours, from day to
day,--or at least there were moments, snatched even from
clear duties,--when I had to shut myself up to think. It was
not so much yet that I was more nervous than I could bear to
be as that I was remarkably afraid of becoming so; for the
truth I had now to turn over was, simply and clearly, the
truth that I could arrive at no account whatever of the visitor
with whom I had been so inexplicably and yet, as it seemed
to me, so intimately concerned. It took little time to see that I
could sound without forms of inquiry and without exciting
remark any domestic complication. The shock I had suffered
must have sharpened all my senses; I felt sure, at the end of
three days and as the result of mere closer attention, that I
had not been practised upon by the servants nor made the
object of any “game.” Of whatever it was that I knew
nothing was known around me. There was but one sane
inference: someone had taken a liberty rather gross. That was
what, repeatedly, I dipped into my room and locked the door
to say to myself. We had been, collectively, subject to an
intrusion; some unscrupulous traveller, curious in old houses,
had made his way in unobserved, enjoyed the prospect from
the best point of view, and then stolen out as he came. If he
had given me such a bold hard stare, that was but a part of
his indiscretion. The good thing, after all, was that we should
surely see no more of him.
32 THETURN OF THESCREW
This was not so good a thing, I admit, as not to leave me
to judge that what, essentially, made nothing else much
signify was simply my charming work. My charming work
was just my life with Miles and Flora, and through nothing
could I so like it as through feeling that I could throw myself
into it in trouble. The attraction of my small charges was a
constant joy, leading me to wonder afresh at the vanity of my
original fears, the distaste I had begun by entertaining for the
probable grey prose of my office. There was to be no grey
prose, it appeared, and no long grind; so how could work not
be charming that presented itself as daily beauty? It was all
the romance of the nursery and the poetry of the schoolroom.
I don’t mean by this, of course, that we studied only fiction
and verse; I mean I can express no otherwise the sort of
interest my companions inspired. How can I describe that
except by saying that instead of growing used to them--and
it’s a marvel for a governess: I call the sisterhood to
witness!--I made constant fresh discoveries. There was one
direction, assuredly, in which these discoveries stopped:
deep obscurity continued to cover the region of the boy’s
conduct at school. It had been promptly given me, I have
noted, to face that mystery without a pang. Perhaps even it
would be nearer the truth to say that--without a word--he
himself had cleared it up. He had made the whole charge
absurd. My conclusion bloomed there with the real roseflush
of his innocence: he was only too fine and fair for the
little horrid, unclean school-world, and he had paid a price
for it. I reflected acutely that the sense of such differences,
such superiorities of quality, always, on the part of the
majority--which could include even stupid, sordid headmasters--turns
infallibly to the vindictive.
Both the children had a gentleness (it was their only
fault, and it never made Miles a muff) that kept them--how
shall I express it?--almost impersonal and certainly quite
unpunishable. They were like the cherubs of the anecdote,
who had--morally, at any rate--nothing to whack! I
remember feeling with Miles in especial as if he had had, as
it were, no history. We expect of a small child a scant one,
but there was in this beautiful little boy something
extraordinarily sensitive, yet extraordinarily happy, that,
more than in any creature of his age I have seen, struck me
as beginning anew each day. He had never for a second
suffered. I took this as a direct disproof of his having really
been chastised. If he had been wicked he would have
“caught” it, and I should have caught it by the rebound--I
should have found the trace. I found nothing at all, and he
was therefore an angel. He never spoke of his school, never
mentioned a comrade or a master; and I, for my part, was
quite too much disgusted to allude to them. Of course I was
under the spell, and the wonderful part is that, even at the
time, I perfectly knew I was. But I gave myself up to it; it
was an antidote to any pain, and I had more pains than one. I
was in receipt in these days of disturbing letters from home,
where things were not going well. But with my children,
what things in the world mattered? That was the question I
used to put to my scrappy retirements. I was dazzled by their
There was a Sunday--to get on--when it rained with
such force and for so many hours that there could be no
procession to church; in consequence of which, as the day
declined, I had arranged with Mrs. Grose that, should the
evening show improvement, we would attend together the
late service. The rain happily stopped, and I prepared for our
walk, which, through the park and by the good road to the
village, would be a matter of twenty minutes. Coming
downstairs to meet my colleague in the hall, I remembered a
The bestest funny meme most awesome I cant believe people are saying: WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.
It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.
Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.
When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff’s office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice was also enclosed, without comment.
They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father.
They rose when she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.
She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain.
Her voice was dry and cold. “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves.”
“But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn’t you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?”
“I received a paper, yes,” Miss Emily said. “Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson.”
“But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--”
“See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson.”
“But, Miss Emily--”
“See Colonel Sartoris.” (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!” The Negro appeared. “Show these gentlemen out.”
So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.
That was two years after her father’s death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her
-had deserted her. After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man-a young man then--going in and out with a market basket.
“Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly, "the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.
A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.
“But what will you have me do about it, madam?” he said.
“Why, send her word to stop it,” the woman said. "Isn’t there a law? "
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Judge Stevens said. “It’s probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I’ll speak to him about it.”
The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. “We really must do something about it, Judge. I’d be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we’ve got to do something.” That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.
“It’s simple enough,” he said. “Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don’t. ..”
“Dammit, sir,” Judge Stevens said, “will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?”
So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily’s lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings. As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol. They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. After a week or two the smell went away.
That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.
When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.
The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.
We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.
SHEWASSICK for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene.
The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father’s death they began the work. The construction company came with niggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the niggers, and the niggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.
At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, “Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.” But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -
without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, “Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her.” She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. They had not even been represented at the funeral.
And as soon as the old people said, “Poor Emily,” the whispering began. “Do you suppose it’s really so?” they said to one another. “Of course it is. What else could . . .” This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: “Poor Emily.”
She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say “Poor Emily,” and while the two female cousins were visiting her.
“I want some poison,” she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper’s face ought to look. “I want some poison,” she said.
“Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I’d recom--”
“I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind.”
The druggist named several. “They’ll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is--”
“Arsenic,” Miss Emily said. “Is that a good one?”
“Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma’am. But what you want--”
“I want arsenic.”
The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. “Why, of course,” the druggist said. “If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for.”
Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn’t come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: “For rats.”
So THENEXT day we all said, “She will kill herself”; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, “She will marry him.” Then we said, “She will persuade him yet,” because Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks’ Club--that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, “Poor Emily” behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.
Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily’s people were Episcopal-- to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister’s wife wrote to Miss Emily’s relations in Alabama.
So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. At first nothing happened. Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, “They are married.” We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.
So we were not surprised when Homer Barron--the streets had been finished some time since--was gone. We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily’s coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily’s allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening.
And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.
When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.
From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the downstairs rooms, where the daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris’ contemporaries were sent to her with the same regularity and in the same spirit that they were sent to church on Sundays with a twenty-five-cent piece for the collection plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been remitted.
Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies’ magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.
Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. Each December we sent her a tax notice, which would be returned by the post office a week later, unclaimed. Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows--she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house--like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.
And so she died. Fell ill in the house filled with dust and shadows, with only a doddering Negro man to wait on her. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro
He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.
She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight.
THENEGRO met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.
The two female cousins came at once. They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men
-some in their brushed Confederate uniforms-on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.
Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.
The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man’s toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.
The man himself lay in the bed.
For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.
Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.
The bestest funny meme most awesome I cant believe people are saying:
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how
long precisely--having little or no money in my purse,
and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I
would sail about a little and see the watery part of the
world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and
regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself
growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp,
drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself
involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and
bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially
whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it
requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from
deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically
knocking people’s hats off--then, I account it high time to
get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol
and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself
upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is
nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all
men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very
nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
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There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes,
belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs--
commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the
streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the
battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and
cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out
of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath
afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and
from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you
see?--Posted like silent sentinels all around the town,
stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in
ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some
seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the
bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the
rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But
these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and
plaster--tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to
desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What
do they here?
But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for
the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange!
Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the
land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses
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will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water
as they possibly can without falling in. And there they
stand--miles of them--leagues. Inlanders all, they come
from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues--north, east,
south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the
magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those
ships attract them thither?
Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high
land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to
one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by
a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most
absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest
reveries--stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going,
and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be
in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great
American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan
happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes,
as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for
But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the
dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of
romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is
the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each
with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were
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within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his
cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke.
Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching
to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side
blue. But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though
this pine-tree shakes down its sighs like leaves upon this
shepherd’s head, yet all were vain, unless the shepherd’s
eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him. Go
visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of
miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies--what is
the one charm wanting?--Water--there is not a drop of
water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would
you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the
poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two
handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat,
which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian
trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust
healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some
time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first
voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical
vibration, when first told that you and your ship were
now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold
the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity,
and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without
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meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of
Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting,
mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was
drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all
rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable
phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea
whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin
to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it
inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to go as a
passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but
a rag unless you have something in it. Besides, passengers
get sea-sick--grow quarrelsome--don’t sleep of nights--
do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing;--no, I
never go as a passenger; nor, though I am something of a
salt, do I ever go to sea as a Commodore, or a Captain, or
a Cook. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices
to those who like them. For my part, I abominate all
honourable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of
every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to
take care of myself, without taking care of ships, barques,
brigs, schooners, and what not. And as for going as
cook,--though I confess there is considerable glory in
that, a cook being a sort of officer on ship-board--yet,
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somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls;--though once
broiled, judiciously buttered, and judgmatically salted and
peppered, there is no one who will speak more
respectfully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than
I will. It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old
Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that
you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge
bake-houses the pyramids.
No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right
before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft
there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me
about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a
grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of
thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one’s sense of
honour, particularly if you come of an old established
family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or
Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to
putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording
it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand
in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you,
from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong
decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin
and bear it. But even this wears off in time.
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What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders
me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does
that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of
the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel
thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and
respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance?
Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the
old sea-captains may order me about--however they may
thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of
knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way
or other served in much the same way--either in a
physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the
universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub
each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.
Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make
a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never
pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the
contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all
the difference in the world between paying and being
paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable
infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us.
But BEINGPAID,--what will compare with it? The
urbane activity with which a man receives money is really
marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe
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money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no
account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how
cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the
wholesome exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck.
For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent
than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the
Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the
Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at
second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks
he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do
the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at
the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But
wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea
as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to
go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of
the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and
secretly dogs me, and influences me in some
unaccountable way--he can better answer than any one
else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage,
formed part of the grand programme of Providence that
was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief
interlude and solo between more extensive performances.
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I take it that this part of the bill must have run something
PRESIDENCY OF THEUNITEDSTATES.
‘WHALING VOYAGE BY ONEISHMAEL.
‘BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN.’
Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage
managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a
whaling voyage, when others were set down for
magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy
parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces--though
I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all
the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs
and motives which being cunningly presented to me
under various disguises, induced me to set about
performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the
delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own
unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment.
Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea
of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and
mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild
and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the
undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale; these, with all
the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and
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sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With other men,
perhaps, such things would not have been inducements;
but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for
things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on
barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to
perceive a horror, and could still be social with it--would
they let me--since it is but well to be on friendly terms
with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.
By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was
welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world
swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to
my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost
soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of
them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in
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I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bag, tucked
it under my arm, and started for Cape Horn and the
Pacific. Quitting the good city of old Manhatto, I duly
arrived in New Bedford. It was a Saturday night in
December. Much was I disappointed upon learning that
the little packet for Nantucket had already sailed, and that
no way of reaching that place would offer, till the
As most young candidates for the pains and penalties of
whaling stop at this same New Bedford, thence to embark
on their voyage, it may as well be related that I, for one,
had no idea of so doing. For my mind was made up to sail
in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a
fine, boisterous something about everything connected
with that famous old island, which amazingly pleased me.
Besides though New Bedford has of late been gradually
monopolising the business of whaling, and though in this
matter poor old Nantucket is now much behind her, yet
Nantucket was her great original--the Tyre of this
Carthage;--the place where the first dead American whale
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was stranded. Where else but from Nantucket did those
aboriginal whalemen, the Red-Men, first sally out in
canoes to give chase to the Leviathan? And where but
from Nantucket, too, did that first adventurous little sloop
put forth, partly laden with imported cobblestones--so
goes the story--to throw at the whales, in order to
discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon
from the bowsprit?
Now having a night, a day, and still another night
following before me in New Bedford, ere I could embark
for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment
where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile. It was a very
dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night,
bitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the place.
With anxious grapnels I had sounded my pocket, and only
brought up a few pieces of silver,--So, wherever you go,
Ishmael, said I to myself, as I stood in the middle of a
dreary street shouldering my bag, and comparing the
gloom towards the north with the darkness towards the
south--wherever in your wisdom you may conclude to
lodge for the night, my dear Ishmael, be sure to inquire
the price, and don’t be too particular.
With halting steps I paced the streets, and passed the
sign of ‘The Crossed Harpoons’--but it looked too
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expensive and jolly there. Further on, from the bright red
windows of the ‘Sword-Fish Inn,’ there came such fervent
rays, that it seemed to have melted the packed snow and
ice from before the house, for everywhere else the
congealed frost lay ten inches thick in a hard, asphaltic
pavement,--rather weary for me, when I struck my foot
against the flinty projections, because from hard,
remorseless service the soles of my boots were in a most
miserable plight. Too expensive and jolly, again thought I,
pausing one moment to watch the broad glare in the
street, and hear the sounds of the tinkling glasses within.
But go on, Ishmael, said I at last; don’t you hear? get away
from before the door; your patched boots are stopping the
way. So on I went. I now by instinct followed the streets
that took me waterward, for there, doubtless, were the
cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns.
Such dreary streets! blocks of blackness, not houses, on
either hand, and here and there a candle, like a candle
moving about in a tomb. At this hour of the night, of the
last day of the week, that quarter of the town proved all
but deserted. But presently I came to a smoky light
proceeding from a low, wide building, the door of which
stood invitingly open. It had a careless look, as if it were
meant for the uses of the public; so, entering, the first
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thing I did was to stumble over an ash-box in the porch.
Ha! thought I, ha, as the flying particles almost choked
me, are these ashes from that destroyed city, Gomorrah?
But ‘The Crossed Harpoons,’ and ‘The Sword-Fish?’--
this, then must needs be the sign of ‘The Trap.’ However,
I picked myself up and hearing a loud voice within,
pushed on and opened a second, interior door.
It seemed the great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet.
A hundred black faces turned round in their rows to peer;
and beyond, a black Angel of Doom was beating a book
in a pulpit. It was a negro church; and the preacher’s text
was about the blackness of darkness, and the weeping and
wailing and teeth-gnashing there. Ha, Ishmael, muttered I,
backing out, Wretched entertainment at the sign of ‘The
Moving on, I at last came to a dim sort of light not far
from the docks, and heard a forlorn creaking in the air;
and looking up, saw a swinging sign over the door with a
white painting upon it, faintly representing a tall straight
jet of misty spray, and these words underneath--‘The
Spouter Inn:--Peter Coffin.’
Coffin?--Spouter?--Rather ominous in that particular
connexion, thought I. But it is a common name in
Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an
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emigrant from there. As the light looked so dim, and the
place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the
dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might
have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt
district, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken
sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot
for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.
It was a queer sort of place--a gable-ended old house,
one side palsied as it were, and leaning over sadly. It stood
on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind
Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it did
about poor Paul’s tossed craft. Euroclydon, nevertheless, is
a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with his feet
on the hob quietly toasting for bed. ‘In judging of that
tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,’ says an old writer--
of whose works I possess the only copy extant--‘it maketh
a marvellous difference, whether thou lookest out at it
from a glass window where the frost is all on the outside,
or whether thou observest it from that sashless window,
where the frost is on both sides, and of which the wight
Death is the only glazier.’ True enough, thought I, as this
passage occurred to my mind--old black-letter, thou
reasonest well. Yes, these eyes are windows, and this body
of mine is the house. What a pity they didn’t stop up the
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chinks and the crannies though, and thrust in a little lint
here and there. But it’s too late to make any
improvements now. The universe is finished; the
copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million
years ago. Poor Lazarus there, chattering his teeth against
the curbstone for his pillow, and shaking off his tatters
with his shiverings, he might plug up both ears with rags,
and put a corn-cob into his mouth, and yet that would not
keep out the tempestuous Euroclydon. Euroclydon! says
old Dives, in his red silken wrapper--(he had a redder one
afterwards) pooh, pooh! What a fine frosty night; how
Orion glitters; what northern lights! Let them talk of their
oriental summer climes of everlasting conservatories; give
me the privilege of making my own summer with my
But what thinks Lazarus? Can he warm his blue hands
by holding them up to the grand northern lights? Would
not Lazarus rather be in Sumatra than here? Would he not
far rather lay him down lengthwise along the line of the
equator; yea, ye gods! go down to the fiery pit itself, in
order to keep out this frost?
Now, that Lazarus should lie stranded there on the
curbstone before the door of Dives, this is more wonderful
than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the
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Moluccas. Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an
ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a
temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of
But no more of this blubbering now, we are going awhaling,
and there is plenty of that yet to come. Let us
scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort of a
place this ‘Spouter’ may be.
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Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found
yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with oldfashioned
wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of
some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large
oilpainting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way
defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you
viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of
systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors,
that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its
purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and
shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious
young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had
endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of
much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated
ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little
window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to
the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not
be altogether unwarranted.
But what most puzzled and confounded you was a
long, limber, portentous, black mass of something
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hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim,
perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy,
soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous
man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, halfattained,
unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze
you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself
to find out what that marvellous painting meant. Ever and
anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you
through.--It’s the Black Sea in a midnight gale.--It’s the
unnatural combat of the four primal elements.--It’s a
blasted heath.--It’s a Hyperborean winter scene.--It’s the
breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time. But at last all
these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in
the picture’s midst. THAT once found out, and all the rest
were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance
to a gigantic fish? even the great leviathan himself?
In fact, the artist’s design seemed this: a final theory of
my own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of
many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the
subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great
hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its
three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated
whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the
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enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mastheads.
The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a
heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were
thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws;
others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was
sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the
segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed
mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what
monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a
death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying
implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling
lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were
storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly
elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen
whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that
harpoon--so like a corkscrew now--was flung in Javan
seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain
off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the
tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a
man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found
imbedded in the hump.
Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon lowarched
way--cut through what in old times must have
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been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round--
you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this,
with such low ponderous beams above, and such old
wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you
trod some old craft’s cockpits, especially of such a howling
night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so
furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table
covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rarities
gathered from this wide world’s remotest nooks.
Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a
dark-looking den--the bar--a rude attempt at a right
whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast
arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might
almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged
round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws
of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which
name indeed they called him), bustles a little withered old
man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors
deliriums and death.
Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his
poison. Though true cylinders without--within, the
villanous green goggling glasses deceitfully tapered
downwards to a cheating bottom. Parallel meridians rudely
pecked into the glass, surround these footpads’ goblets. Fill
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to THIS mark, and your charge is but a penny; to THIS a
penny more; and so on to the full glass--the Cape Horn
measure, which you may gulp down for a shilling.
Upon entering the place I found a number of young
seamen gathered about a table, examining by a dim light
divers specimens of SKRIMSHANDER. I sought the
landlord, and telling him I desired to be accommodated
with a room, received for answer that his house was full--
not a bed unoccupied. ‘But avast,’ he added, tapping his
forehead, ‘you haint no objections to sharing a
harpooneer’s blanket, have ye? I s’pose you are goin’ awhalin’,
so you’d better get used to that sort of thing.’
I told him that I never liked to sleep two in a bed; that
if I should ever do so, it would depend upon who the
harpooneer might be, and that if he (the landlord) really
had no other place for me, and the harpooneer was not
decidedly objectionable, why rather than wander further
about a strange town on so bitter a night, I would put up
with the half of any decent man’s blanket.
‘I thought so. All right; take a seat. Supper?--you want
supper? Supper’ll be ready directly.’
I sat down on an old wooden settle, carved all over like
a bench on the Battery. At one end a ruminating tar was
still further adorning it with his jack-knife, stooping over
and diligently working away at the space between his legs.
He was trying his hand at a ship under full sail, but he
didn’t make much headway, I thought.
At last some four or five of us were summoned to our
meal in an adjoining room. It was cold as Iceland--no fire
at all--the landlord said he couldn’t afford it. Nothing but
two dismal tallow candles, each in a winding sheet. We
were fain to button up our monkey jackets, and hold to
our lips cups of scalding tea with our half frozen fingers.
But the fare was of the most substantial kind--not only
meat and potatoes, but dumplings; good heavens!
dumplings for supper! One young fellow in a green box
coat, addressed himself to these dumplings in a most
‘My boy,’ said the landlord, ‘you’ll have the nightmare
to a dead sartainty.’
‘Landlord,’ I whispered, ‘that aint the harpooneer is it?’
‘Oh, no,’ said he, looking a sort of diabolically funny,
‘the harpooneer is a dark complexioned chap. He never
eats dumplings, he don’t--he eats nothing but steaks, and
he likes ‘em rare.’
‘The devil he does,’ says I. ‘Where is that harpooneer?
Is he here?’
‘He’ll be here afore long,’ was the answer.
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I could not help it, but I began to feel suspicious of this
‘dark complexioned’ harpooneer. At any rate, I made up
my mind that if it so turned out that we should sleep
together, he must undress and get into bed before I did.
Supper over, the company went back to the bar-room,
when, knowing not what else to do with myself, I
resolved to spend the rest of the evening as a looker on.
Presently a rioting noise was heard without. Starting
up, the landlord cried, ‘That’s the Grampus’s crew. I seed
her reported in the offing this morning; a three years’
voyage, and a full ship. Hurrah, boys; now we’ll have the
latest news from the Feegees.’
A tramping of sea boots was heard in the entry; the
door was flung open, and in rolled a wild set of mariners
enough. Enveloped in their shaggy watch coats, and with
their heads muffled in woollen comforters, all bedarned
and ragged, and their beards stiff with icicles, they seemed
an eruption of bears from Labrador. They had just landed
from their boat, and this was the first house they entered.
No wonder, then, that they made a straight wake for the
whale’s mouth--the bar--when the wrinkled little old
Jonah, there officiating, soon poured them out brimmers
all round. One complained of a bad cold in his head, upon
which Jonah mixed him a pitch-like potion of gin and
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molasses, which he swore was a sovereign cure for all colds
and catarrhs whatsoever, never mind of how long
standing, or whether caught off the coast of Labrador, or
on the weather side of an ice-island.
The liquor soon mounted into their heads, as it
generally does even with the arrantest topers newly landed
from sea, and they began capering about most
I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat
aloof, and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the
hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon
the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the
rest. This man interested me at once; and since the seagods
had ordained that he should soon become my
shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this
narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little
description of him. He stood full six feet in height, with
noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-dam. I have
seldom seen such brawn in a man. His face was deeply
brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the
contrast; while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated
some reminiscences that did not seem to give him much
joy. His voice at once announced that he was a
Southerner, and from his fine stature, I thought he must
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be one of those tall mountaineers from the Alleghanian
Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions
had mounted to its height, this man slipped away
unobserved, and I saw no more of him till he became my
comrade on the sea. In a few minutes, however, he was
missed by his shipmates, and being, it seems, for some
reason a huge favourite with them, they raised a cry of
‘Bulkington! Bulkington! where’s Bulkington?’ and darted
out of the house in pursuit of him.
It was now about nine o’clock, and the room seeming
almost supernaturally quiet after these orgies, I began to
congratulate myself upon a little plan that had occurred to
me just previous to the entrance of the seamen.
No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you
would a good deal rather not sleep with your own
brother. I don’t know how it is, but people like to be
private when they are sleeping. And when it comes to
sleeping with an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a
strange town, and that stranger a harpooneer, then your
objections indefinitely multiply. Nor was there any earthly
reason why I as a sailor should sleep two in a bed, more
than anybody else; for sailors no more sleep two in a bed
at sea, than bachelor Kings do ashore. To be sure they all
sleep together in one apartment, but you have your own
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hammock, and cover yourself with your own blanket, and
sleep in your own skin.
The more I pondered over this harpooneer, the more I
abominated the thought of sleeping with him. It was fair
to presume that being a harpooneer, his linen or woollen,
as the case might be, would not be of the tidiest, certainly
none of the finest. I began to twitch all over. Besides, it
was getting late, and my decent harpooneer ought to be
home and going bedwards. Suppose now, he should
tumble in upon me at midnight--how could I tell from
what vile hole he had been coming?
‘Landlord! I’ve changed my mind about that
harpooneer.--I shan’t sleep with him. I’ll try the bench
‘Just as you please; I’m sorry I cant spare ye a tablecloth
for a mattress, and it’s a plaguy rough board here’--feeling
of the knots and notches. ‘But wait a bit, Skrimshander;
I’ve got a carpenter’s plane there in the bar--wait, I say,
and I’ll make ye snug enough.’ So saying he procured the
plane; and with his old silk handkerchief first dusting the
bench, vigorously set to planing away at my bed, the
while grinning like an ape. The shavings flew right and
left; till at last the plane-iron came bump against an
indestructible knot. The landlord was near spraining his
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wrist, and I told him for heaven’s sake to quit--the bed
was soft enough to suit me, and I did not know how all
the planing in the world could make eider down of a pine
plank. So gathering up the shavings with another grin, and
throwing them into the great stove in the middle of the
room, he went about his business, and left me in a brown
I now took the measure of the bench, and found that it
was a foot too short; but that could be mended with a
chair. But it was a foot too narrow, and the other bench in
the room was about four inches higher than the planed
one--so there was no yoking them. I then placed the first
bench lengthwise along the only clear space against the
wall, leaving a little interval between, for my back to settle
down in. But I soon found that there came such a draught
of cold air over me from under the sill of the window,
that this plan would never do at all, especially as another
current from the rickety door met the one from the
window, and both together formed a series of small
whirlwinds in the immediate vicinity of the spot where I
had thought to spend the night.
The devil fetch that harpooneer, thought I, but stop,
couldn’t I steal a march on him--bolt his door inside, and
jump into his bed, not to be wakened by the most violent
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knockings? It seemed no bad idea; but upon second
thoughts I dismissed it. For who could tell but what the
next morning, so soon as I popped out of the room, the
harpooneer might be standing in the entry, all ready to
knock me down!
Still, looking round me again, and seeing no possible
chance of spending a sufferable night unless in some other
person’s bed, I began to think that after all I might be
cherishing unwarrantable prejudices against this unknown
harpooneer. Thinks I, I’ll wait awhile; he must be
dropping in before long. I’ll have a good look at him then,
and perhaps we may become jolly good bedfellows after
all--there’s no telling.
But though the other boarders kept coming in by ones,
twos, and threes, and going to bed, yet no sign of my
‘Landlord! said I, ‘what sort of a chap is he--does he
always keep such late hours?’ It was now hard upon
The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, and
seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my
comprehension. ‘No,’ he answered, ‘generally he’s an
early bird--airley to bed and airley to rise--yes, he’s the
bird what catches the worm. But to-night he went out a
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peddling, you see, and I don’t see what on airth keeps him
so late, unless, may be, he can’t sell his head.’
‘Can’t sell his head?--What sort of a bamboozingly
story is this you are telling me?’ getting into a towering
rage. ‘Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this
harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed Saturday night,
or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head around
‘That’s precisely it,’ said the landlord, ‘and I told him
he couldn’t sell it here, the market’s overstocked.’
‘With what?’ shouted I.
‘With heads to be sure; ain’t there too many heads in
‘I tell you what it is, landlord,’ said I quite calmly,
‘you’d better stop spinning that yarn to me--I’m not
‘May be not,’ taking out a stick and whittling a
toothpick, ‘but I rayther guess you’ll be done BROWN if
that ere harpooneer hears you a slanderin’ his head.’
‘I’ll break it for him,’ said I, now flying into a passion
again at this unaccountable farrago of the landlord’s.
‘It’s broke a’ready,’ said he.
‘Broke,’ said I--‘BROKE, do you mean?’
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‘Sartain, and that’s the very reason he can’t sell it, I
‘Landlord,’ said I, going up to him as cool as Mt. Hecla
in a snow-storm--‘landlord, stop whittling. You and I
must understand one another, and that too without delay.
I come to your house and want a bed; you tell me you can
only give me half a one; that the other half belongs to a
certain harpooneer. And about this harpooneer, whom I
have not yet seen, you persist in telling me the most
mystifying and exasperating stories tending to beget in me
an uncomfortable feeling towards the man whom you
design for my bedfellow--a sort of connexion, landlord,
which is an intimate and confidential one in the highest
degree. I now demand of you to speak out and tell me
who and what this harpooneer is, and whether I shall be in
all respects safe to spend the night with him. And in the
first place, you will be so good as to unsay that story about
selling his head, which if true I take to be good evidence
that this harpooneer is stark mad, and I’ve no idea of
sleeping with a madman; and you, sir, YOU I mean,
landlord, YOU, sir, by trying to induce me to do so
knowingly, would thereby render yourself liable to a
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‘Wall,’ said the landlord, fetching a long breath, ‘that’s a
purty long sarmon for a chap that rips a little now and
then. But be easy, be easy, this here harpooneer I have
been tellin’ you of has just arrived from the south seas,
where he bought up a lot of ‘balmed New Zealand heads
(great curios, you know), and he’s sold all on ‘em but one,
and that one he’s trying to sell to-night, cause tomorrow’s
Sunday, and it would not do to be sellin’ human
heads about the streets when folks is goin’ to churches. He
wanted to, last Sunday, but I stopped him just as he was
goin’ out of the door with four heads strung on a string,
for all the airth like a string of inions.’
This account cleared up the otherwise unaccountable
mystery, and showed that the landlord, after all, had had
no idea of fooling me--but at the same time what could I
think of a harpooneer who stayed out of a Saturday night
clean into the holy Sabbath, engaged in such a cannibal
business as selling the heads of dead idolators?
‘Depend upon it, landlord, that harpooneer is a
‘He pays reg’lar,’ was the rejoinder. ‘But come, it’s
getting dreadful late, you had better be turning flukes--it’s
a nice bed; Sal and me slept in that ere bed the night we
were spliced. There’s plenty of room for two to kick
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about in that bed; it’s an almighty big bed that. Why, afore
we give it up, Sal used to put our Sam and little Johnny in
the foot of it. But I got a dreaming and sprawling about
one night, and somehow, Sam got pitched on the floor,
and came near breaking his arm. Arter that, Sal said it
wouldn’t do. Come along here, I’ll give ye a glim in a
jiffy;’ and so saying he lighted a candle and held it towards
me, offering to lead the way. But I stood irresolute; when
looking at a clock in the corner, he exclaimed ‘I vum it’s
Sunday--you won’t see that harpooneer to-night; he’s
come to anchor somewhere--come along then; DO
come; WON’T ye come?’
I considered the matter a moment, and then up stairs
we went, and I was ushered into a small room, cold as a
clam, and furnished, sure enough, with a prodigious bed,
almost big enough indeed for any four harpooneers to
‘There,’ said the landlord, placing the candle on a crazy
old sea chest that did double duty as a wash-stand and
centre table; ‘there, make yourself comfortable now, and
good night to ye.’ I turned round from eyeing the bed,
but he had disappeared.
Folding back the counterpane, I stooped over the bed.
Though none of the most elegant, it yet stood the scrutiny
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tolerably well. I then glanced round the room; and besides
the bedstead and centre table, could see no other furniture
belonging to the place, but a rude shelf, the four walls, and
a papered fireboard representing a man striking a whale.
Of things not properly belonging to the room, there was a
hammock lashed up, and thrown upon the floor in one
corner; also a large seaman’s bag, containing the
harpooneer’s wardrobe, no doubt in lieu of a land trunk.
Likewise, there was a parcel of outlandish bone fish hooks
on the shelf over the fire-place, and a tall harpoon standing
at the head of the bed.
But what is this on the chest? I took it up, and held it
close to the light, and felt it, and smelt it, and tried every
way possible to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion
concerning it. I can compare it to nothing but a large door
mat, ornamented at the edges with little tinkling tags
something like the stained porcupine quills round an
Indian moccasin. There was a hole or slit in the middle of
this mat, as you see the same in South American ponchos.
But could it be possible that any sober harpooneer would
get into a door mat, and parade the streets of any Christian
town in that sort of guise? I put it on, to try it, and it
weighed me down like a hamper, being uncommonly
shaggy and thick, and I thought a little damp, as though
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this mysterious harpooneer had been wearing it of a rainy
day. I went up in it to a bit of glass stuck against the wall,
and I never saw such a sight in my life. I tore myself out of
it in such a hurry that I gave myself a kink in the neck.
I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced
thinking about this head-peddling harpooneer, and his
door mat. After thinking some time on the bed-side, I got
up and took off my monkey jacket, and then stood in the
middle of the room thinking. I then took off my coat, and
thought a little more in my shirt sleeves. But beginning to
feel very cold now, half undressed as I was, and
remembering what the landlord said about the
harpooneer’s not coming home at all that night, it being
so very late, I made no more ado, but jumped out of my
pantaloons and boots, and then blowing out the light
tumbled into bed, and commended myself to the care of
Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or
broken crockery, there is no telling, but I rolled about a
good deal, and could not sleep for a long time. At last I
slid off into a light doze, and had pretty nearly made a
good offing towards the land of Nod, when I heard a
heavy footfall in the passage, and saw a glimmer of light
come into the room from under the door.
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Lord save me, thinks I, that must be the harpooneer,
the infernal head-peddler. But I lay perfectly still, and
resolved not to say a word till spoken to. Holding a light
in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the
other, the stranger entered the room, and without looking
towards the bed, placed his candle a good way off from
me on the floor in one corner, and then began working
away at the knotted cords of the large bag I before spoke
of as being in the room. I was all eagerness to see his face,
but he kept it averted for some time while employed in
unlacing the bag’s mouth. This accomplished, however,
he turned round--when, good heavens! what a sight!
Such a face! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow colour, here
and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares.
Yes, it’s just as I thought, he’s a terrible bedfellow; he’s
been in a fight, got dreadfully cut, and here he is, just from
the surgeon. But at that moment he chanced to turn his
face so towards the light, that I plainly saw they could not
be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on his
cheeks. They were stains of some sort or other. At first I
knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the
truth occurred to me. I remembered a story of a white
man--a whaleman too--who, falling among the cannibals,
had been tattooed by them. I concluded that this
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harpooneer, in the course of his distant voyages, must have
met with a similar adventure. And what is it, thought I,
after all! It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any
sort of skin. But then, what to make of his unearthly
complexion, that part of it, I mean, lying round about, and
completely independent of the squares of tattooing. To be
sure, it might be nothing but a good coat of tropical
tanning; but I never heard of a hot sun’s tanning a white
man into a purplish yellow one. However, I had never
been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun there
produced these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Now,
while all these ideas were passing through me like
lightning, this harpooneer never noticed me at all. But,
after some difficulty having opened his bag, he
commenced fumbling in it, and presently pulled out a sort
of tomahawk, and a seal-skin wallet with the hair on.
Placing these on the old chest in the middle of the room,
he then took the New Zealand head--a ghastly thing
enough--and crammed it down into the bag. He now
took off his hat--a new beaver hat--when I came nigh
singing out with fresh surprise. There was no hair on his
head--none to speak of at least--nothing but a small
scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead. His bald purplish
head now looked for all the world like a mildewed skull.
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Had not the stranger stood between me and the door, I
would have bolted out of it quicker than ever I bolted a
Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out of
the window, but it was the second floor back. I am no
coward, but what to make of this head-peddling purple
rascal altogether passed my comprehension. Ignorance is
the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and
confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as
much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had
thus broken into my room at the dead of night. In fact, I
was so afraid of him that I was not game enough just then
to address him, and demand a satisfactory answer
concerning what seemed inexplicable in him.
Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing,
and at last showed his chest and arms. As I live, these
covered parts of him were checkered with the same
squares as his face; his back, too, was all over the same
dark squares; he seemed to have been in a Thirty Years’
War, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt.
Still more, his very legs were marked, as if a parcel of dark
green frogs were running up the trunks of young palms. It
was now quite plain that he must be some abominable
savage or other shipped aboard of a whaleman in the
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South Seas, and so landed in this Christian country. I
quaked to think of it. A peddler of heads too--perhaps the
heads of his own brothers. He might take a fancy to
mine--heavens! look at that tomahawk!
But there was no time for shuddering, for now the
savage went about something that completely fascinated
my attention, and convinced me that he must indeed be a
heathen. Going to his heavy grego, or wrapall, or
dreadnaught, which he had previously hung on a chair, he
fumbled in the pockets, and produced at length a curious
little deformed image with a hunch on its back, and
exactly the colour of a three days’ old Congo baby.
Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost
thought that this black manikin was a real baby preserved
in some similar manner. But seeing that it was not at all
limber, and that it glistened a good deal like polished
ebony, I concluded that it must be nothing but a wooden
idol, which indeed it proved to be. For now the savage
goes up to the empty fire-place, and removing the papered
fire-board, sets up this little hunch-backed image, like a
tenpin, between the andirons. The chimney jambs and all
the bricks inside were very sooty, so that I thought this
fire-place made a very appropriate little shrine or chapel
for his Congo idol.
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I now screwed my eyes hard towards the half hidden
image, feeling but ill at ease meantime--to see what was
next to follow. First he takes about a double handful of
shavings out of his grego pocket, and places them carefully
before the idol; then laying a bit of ship biscuit on top and
applying the flame from the lamp, he kindled the shavings
into a sacrificial blaze. Presently, after many hasty snatches
into the fire, and still hastier withdrawals of his fingers
(whereby he seemed to be scorching them badly), he at
last succeeded in drawing out the biscuit; then blowing off
the heat and ashes a little, he made a polite offer of it to
the little negro. But the little devil did not seem to fancy
such dry sort of fare at all; he never moved his lips. All
these strange antics were accompanied by still stranger
guttural noises from the devotee, who seemed to be
praying in a sing-song or else singing some pagan
psalmody or other, during which his face twitched about
in the most unnatural manner. At last extinguishing the
fire, he took the idol up very unceremoniously, and
bagged it again in his grego pocket as carelessly as if he
were a sportsman bagging a dead woodcock.
All these queer proceedings increased my
uncomfortableness, and seeing him now exhibiting strong
symptoms of concluding his business operations, and
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jumping into bed with me, I thought it was high time,
now or never, before the light was put out, to break the
spell in which I had so long been bound.
But the interval I spent in deliberating what to say, was
a fatal one. Taking up his tomahawk from the table, he
examined the head of it for an instant, and then holding it
to the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed out
great clouds of tobacco smoke. The next moment the light
was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk
between his teeth, sprang into bed with me. I sang out, I
could not help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of
astonishment he began feeling me.
Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled
away from him against the wall, and then conjured him,
whoever or whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let
me get up and light the lamp again. But his guttural
responses satisfied me at once that he but ill
comprehended my meaning.
‘Who-e debel you?’--he at last said--‘you no speak-e,
dam-me, I kill-e.’ And so saying the lighted tomahawk
began flourishing about me in the dark.
‘Landlord, for God’s sake, Peter Coffin!’ shouted I.
‘Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels! save me!’
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‘Speak-e! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e!’
again growled the cannibal, while his horrid flourishings of
the tomahawk scattered the hot tobacco ashes about me
till I thought my linen would get on fire. But thank
heaven, at that moment the landlord came into the room
light in hand, and leaping from the bed I ran up to him.
‘Don’t be afraid now,’ said he, grinning again,
‘Queequeg here wouldn’t harm a hair of your head.’
‘Stop your grinning,’ shouted I, ‘and why didn’t you
tell me that that infernal harpooneer was a cannibal?’
‘I thought ye know’d it;--didn’t I tell ye, he was a
peddlin’ heads around town?--but turn flukes again and
go to sleep. Queequeg, look here--you sabbee me, I
sabbee--you this man sleepe you--you sabbee?’
‘Me sabbee plenty’--grunted Queequeg, puffing away
at his pipe and sitting up in bed.
‘You gettee in,’ he added, motioning to me with his
tomahawk, and throwing the clothes to one side. He really
did this in not only a civil but a really kind and charitable
way. I stood looking at him a moment. For all his
tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking
cannibal. What’s all this fuss I have been making about,
thought I to myself--the man’s a human being just as I
am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be
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afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a
‘Landlord,’ said I, ‘tell him to stash his tomahawk there,
or pipe, or whatever you call it; tell him to stop smoking,
in short, and I will turn in with him. But I don’t fancy
having a man smoking in bed with me. It’s dangerous.
Besides, I ain’t insured.’
This being told to Queequeg, he at once complied, and
again politely motioned me to get into bed--rolling over
to one side as much as to say--I won’t touch a leg of ye.’
‘Good night, landlord,’ said I, ‘you may go.’
I turned in, and never slept better in my life.
Juggalo March on Washing 2017 refers to a protest led by the rap musical duo the Insane Clown Posse against the Federal Bureau of Investigation classifying their fans, “The Juggalos,” as a gang. The FBI’s classification has led to Juggalos receiving increased punishment for criminal activity, loss of jobs and other legal discrimination, despite the group’s insistance that they are not a gang.
In October 2011, the F.B.I. released the National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends. Within their reporting, they included a section on fans of the circus-themed rap duo The Insane Clown Posse, also know as “Juggalos.” The report describes Juggalos as:
“The Juggalos, a loosely-organized hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although
recognized as a gang in only four states, many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.”
According to a March 2017 Wired magazine article, the F.B.I. decided to designate the fans as a gang due to a pair of drug busts that happened to involved Juggalos.
On the weekend of July 23rd, 2016, during their annual Gathering of the Juggalos event, the Insane Clown Posse announced the 2017 March on Washington, a protest event to stand against the F.B.I.‘s classification, which they say has led to legal discrimination against their fanbase. Detroit News reported that one of the I.C.P. members, Violent J, said during the group’s performance:
“In 2017, the weekend of Sept. 17, we need you. We’re gonna do a (expletive) march on Washington. They call the Juggalo World a movement, right? Well, let’s move! We are going to explain to the world who the (expletive) we really are. The following day, on Sunday, Sept. 17, the group will throw a picnic for fans,”
On December 21st, 2016, the Twitter account @juggalomarch launched. The account tweets information, news and organizing materials for the March.
In January 2017, the I.C.P. launched a website for their march. The site elaborates on the March’s intensions. On the homepage, the site reads:
“As many of you are no doubt personally aware, the FBI’s inclusion of Juggalos as a “gang” has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of people subjected to various forms of discrimination, harassment, and profiling simply for identifying as a Juggalo. Over the past five years, our legal team has heard testimonies and reports from Juggalos all over the nation who have lost custody of their children, been fired from jobs, denied access into the armed forces, and the most common consequence -- being officially labeled as a gang member by law enforcement agencies for wearing Juggalo related clothing or brandishing one or more Juggalo tattoos. A simple traffic stop for a broken tail light can -- and has -- resulted in an otherwise law-abiding, hard-working, taxpaying citizen being put on a local or state list of gang members simply for displaying their Juggalo pride. Being labeled a gang member can be a permanent stain on an individual’s life, since it will come up in a simple background check every single time. Whether that person is applying for a job, trying to adopt a child, join the armed forces, or attempting to acquire housing … their name may pop up as being “gang-affiliated,” even if that person has never been charged with any kind of crime.”
On August 16th, CBS News reported that a rally in support of United States President Donald Trump was scheduled for the same day as the Juggalo March. Redditor kicker58 posted about the news in the /r/politics subreddit. It received more than 840 points (96% upvoted) and 500 comments.
On August 18th, Twitter published a Moments page about one user’s tweets in support of the Juggalo March on Washington. The Moments page received more than Twitter user @drivenbyboredom posted a thread about the March. His tweets (shown below) received more than 1,400 retweets and 2,400 likes in less than 24 hours. He wrote:
“Okay, it’s time to talk about the Juggalo March On Washington. This is a real thing that is happening on September 16th. People are already laughing at it and think the march is a joke but if you care about civil rights you might want to take it seriously. Juggalos are marching on Washington because the FBI classified juggalos as a gang. Anyone who as spent five minutes trying to understand juggalos would see they aren’t a gang. It’s an insane notion. It’s like saying the KISS Army is a gang or Deadheads or anything els. It’s fucking silly as hell. However, this gang classification has serious as impact for juggalos who tend to be poor and undereducated already. Here are some real life impacts that the juggalo gang classification has had. People have lost their jobs because of juggalo tattoos. They have lost custody battles. People have been dishonorably discharged from the military for gang tattoos. Juggalos have been pulled over for the cops and been searched because ICP stickers are now probable cause. Juggalos who get arrested for non-violent offenses are treated as gang members and added to gang lists. This all might seem hilarious to you but people are having their lives ruined over a tattoo they got of their favorite band in high school. So if you give a fuck about justice you should give a fuck about this. Liberal s should get on board because it is a civil rights issue and conservatives should get on board because it’s government overreach. Long story short, take the Juggalo March on Washington seriously. It’s more important than you think. End of thread.
The New York Daily News – Pro-Trump rally set for showdown with Juggalo march in D.C. next month