MR HOLOHAN, assistant secretary of the Eire Abu Society, had been walking u_nd down Dublin for nearly a month, with his hands and pockets full of dirt_ieces of paper, arranging about the series of concerts. He had a game leg an_or this his friends called him Hoppy Holohan. He walked up and dow_onstantly, stood by the hour at street corners arguing the point and mad_otes; but in the end it was Mrs. Kearney who arranged everything.
Miss Devlin had become Mrs. Kearney out of spite. She had been educated in _igh-class convent, where she had learned French and music. As she wa_aturally pale and unbending in manner she made few friends at school. Whe_he came to the age of marriage she was sent out to many houses, where he_laying and ivory manners were much admired. She sat amid the chilly circle o_er accomplishments, waiting for some suitor to brave it and offer her _rilliant life. But the young men whom she met were ordinary and she gave the_o encouragement, trying to console her romantic desires by eating a grea_eal of Turkish Delight in secret. However, when she drew near the limit an_er friends began to loosen their tongues about her, she silenced them b_arrying Mr. Kearney, who was a bootmaker on Ormond Quay.
He was much older than she. His conversation, which was serious, took place a_ntervals in his great brown beard. After the first year of married life, Mrs.
Kearney perceived that such a man would wear better than a romantic person, but she never put her own romantic ideas away. He was sober, thrifty an_ious; he went to the altar every first Friday, sometimes with her, oftener b_imself. But she never weakened in her religion and was a good wife to him. A_ome party in a strange house when she lifted her eyebrow ever so slightly h_tood up to take his leave and, when his cough troubled him, she put th_ider-down quilt over his feet and made a strong rum punch. For his part, h_as a model father. By paying a small sum every week into a society, h_nsured for both his daughters a dowry of one hundred pounds each when the_ame to the age of twenty-four. He sent the older daughter, Kathleen, to _ood convent, where she learned French and music, and afterward paid her fee_t the Academy. Every year in the month of July Mrs. Kearney found occasion t_ay to some friend:
"My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks."
If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones.
When the Irish Revival began to be appreciable Mrs. Kearney determined to tak_dvantage of her daughter's name and brought an Irish teacher to the house.
Kathleen and her sister sent Irish picture postcards to their friends an_hese friends sent back other Irish picture postcards. On special Sundays, when Mr. Kearney went with his family to the pro-cathedral, a little crowd o_eople would assemble after mass at the corner of Cathedral Street. They wer_ll friends of the Kearneys—musical friends or Nationalist friends; and, whe_hey had played every little counter of gossip, they shook hands with on_nother all together, laughing at the crossing of so man hands, and said good- bye to one another in Irish. Soon the name of Miss Kathleen Kearney began t_e heard often on people's lips. People said that she was very clever at musi_nd a very nice girl and, moreover, that she was a believer in the languag_ovement. Mrs. Kearney was well content at this. Therefore she was no_urprised when one day Mr. Holohan came to her and proposed that her daughte_hould be the accompanist at a series of four grand concerts which his Societ_as going to give in the Antient Concert Rooms. She brought him into th_rawing-room, made him sit down and brought out the decanter and the silve_iscuit-barrel. She entered heart and soul into the details of the enterprise, advised and dissuaded: and finally a contract was drawn up by which Kathlee_as to receive eight guineas for her services as accompanist at the four gran_oncerts.
As Mr. Holohan was a novice in such delicate matters as the wording of bill_nd the disposing of items for a programme, Mrs. Kearney helped him. She ha_act. She knew what artistes should go into capitals and what artistes shoul_o into small type. She knew that the first tenor would not like to come o_fter Mr. Meade's comic turn. To keep the audience continually diverted sh_lipped the doubtful items in between the old favourites. Mr. Holohan calle_o see her every day to have her advice on some point. She was invariabl_riendly and advising—homely, in fact. She pushed the decanter towards him, saying:
"Now, help yourself, Mr. Holohan!"
And while he was helping himself she said:
"Don't be afraid! Don t be afraid of it! "
Everything went on smoothly. Mrs. Kearney bought some lovely blush-pin_harmeuse in Brown Thomas's to let into the front of Kathleen's dress. It cos_ pretty penny; but there are occasions when a little expense is justifiable.
She took a dozen of two-shilling tickets for the final concert and sent the_o those friends who could not be trusted to come otherwise. She forgo_othing, and, thanks to her, everything that was to be done was done.
The concerts were to be on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. When Mrs.
Kearney arrived with her daughter at the Antient Concert Rooms on Wednesda_ight she did not like the look of things. A few young men, wearing brigh_lue badges in their coats, stood idle in the vestibule; none of them wor_vening dress. She passed by with her daughter and a quick glance through th_pen door of the hall showed her the cause of the stewards' idleness. At firs_he wondered had she mistaken the hour. No, it was twenty minutes to eight.
In the dressing-room behind the stage she was introduced to the secretary o_he Society, Mr. Fitzpatrick. She smiled and shook his hand. He was a littl_an, with a white, vacant face. She noticed that he wore his soft brown ha_arelessly on the side of his head and that his accent was flat. He held _rogramme in his hand, and, while he was talking to her, he chewed one end o_t into a moist pulp. He seemed to bear disappointments lightly. Mr. Holoha_ame into the dressingroom every few minutes with reports from the box- office. The artistes talked among themselves nervously, glanced from time t_ime at the mirror and rolled and unrolled their music. When it was nearl_alf-past eight, the few people in the hall began to express their desire t_e entertained. Mr. Fitzpatrick came in, smiled vacantly at the room, an_aid:
Well now, ladies and gentlemen. I suppose we'd better open the ball."
Mrs. Kearney rewarded his very flat final syllable with a quick stare o_ontempt, and then said to her daughter encouragingly:
"Are you ready, dear?"
When she had an opportunity, she called Mr. Holohan aside and asked him t_ell her what it meant. Mr. Holohan did not know what it meant. He said tha_he committee had made a mistake in arranging for four concerts: four was to_any.
"And the artistes!" said Mrs. Kearney. "Of course they are doing their best, but really they are not good."
Mr. Holohan admitted that the artistes were no good but the committee, h_aid, had decided to let the first three concerts go as they pleased an_eserve all the talent for Saturday night. Mrs. Kearney said nothing, but, a_he mediocre items followed one another on the platform and the few people i_he hall grew fewer and fewer, she began to regret that she had put herself t_ny expense for such a concert. There was something she didn't like in th_ook of things and Mr. Fitzpatrick's vacant smile irritated her very much.
However, she said nothing and waited to see how it would end. The concer_xpired shortly before ten, and everyone went home quickly.
The concert on Thursday night was better attended, but Mrs. Kearney saw a_nce that the house was filled with paper. The audience behaved indecorously, as if the concert were an informal dress rehearsal. Mr. Fitzpatrick seemed t_njoy himself; he was quite unconscious that Mrs. Kearney was taking angr_ote of his conduct. He stood at the edge of the screen, from time to tim_utting out his head and exchanging a laugh with two friends in the corner o_he balcony. In the course of the evening, Mrs. Kearney learned that th_riday concert was to be abandoned and that the committee was going to mov_eaven and earth to secure a bumper house on Saturday night. When she hear_his, she sought out Mr. Holohan. She buttonholed him as he was limping ou_uickly with a glass of lemonade for a young lady and asked him was it true.
Yes. it was true.
"But, of course, that doesn't alter the contract," she said. "The contract wa_or four concerts."
Mr. Holohan seemed to be in a hurry; he advised her to speak to Mr.
Fitzpatrick. Mrs. Kearney was now beginning to be alarmed. She called Mr.
Fitzpatrick away from his screen and told him that her daughter had signed fo_our concerts and that, of course, according to the terms of the contract, sh_hould receive the sum originally stipulated for, whether the society gave th_our concerts or not. Mr. Fitzpatrick, who did not catch the point at issu_ery quickly, seemed unable to resolve the difficulty and said that he woul_ring the matter before the committee. Mrs. Kearney's anger began to flutte_n her cheek and she had all she could do to keep from asking:
"And who is the Cometty pray?"
But she knew that it would not be ladylike to do that: so she was silent.
Little boys were sent out into the principal streets of Dublin early on Frida_orning with bundles of handbills. Special puffs appeared in all the evenin_apers, reminding the music loving public of the treat which was in store fo_t on the following evening. Mrs. Kearney was somewhat reassured, but b_hought well to tell her husband part of her suspicions. He listened carefull_nd said that perhaps it would be better if he went with her on Saturda_ight. She agreed. She respected her husband in the same way as she respecte_he General Post Office, as something large, secure and fixed; and though sh_new the small number of his talents she appreciated his abstract value as _ale. She was glad that he had suggested coming with her. She thought he_lans over.
The night of the grand concert came. Mrs. Kearney, with her husband an_aughter, arrived at the Antient Concert Rooms three-quarters of an hou_efore the time at which the concert was to begin. By ill luck it was a rain_vening. Mrs. Kearney placed her daughter's clothes and music in charge of he_usband and went all over the building looking for Mr. Holohan or Mr.
Fitzpatrick. She could find neither. She asked the stewards was any member o_he committee in the hall and, after a great deal of trouble, a stewar_rought out a little woman named Miss Beirne to whom Mrs. Kearney explaine_hat she wanted to see one of the secretaries. Miss Beirne expected them an_inute and asked could she do anything. Mrs. Kearney looked searchingly at th_ldish face which was screwed into an expression of trustfulness an_nthusiasm and answered:
"No, thank you!"
The little woman hoped they would have a good house. She looked out at th_ain until the melancholy of the wet street effaced all the trustfulness an_nthusiasm from her twisted features. Then she gave a little sigh and said:
"Ah, well! We did our best, the dear knows."
Mrs. Kearney had to go back to the dressing-room.
The artistes were arriving. The bass and the second tenor had already come.
The bass, Mr. Duggan, was a slender young man with a scattered blac_oustache. He was the son of a hall porter in an office in the city and, as _oy, he had sung prolonged bass notes in the resounding hall. From this humbl_tate he had raised himself until he had become a first-rate artiste. He ha_ppeared in grand opera. One night, when an operatic artiste had fallen ill, he had undertaken the part of the king in the opera of Maritana at the Queen'_heatre. He sang his music with great feeling and volume and was warml_elcomed by the gallery; but, unfortunately, he marred the good impression b_iping his nose in his gloved hand once or twice out of thoughtlessness. H_as unassuming and spoke little. He said yous so softly that it passe_nnoticed and he never drank anything stronger than milk for his voice's sake.
Mr. Bell, the second tenor, was a fair-haired little man who competed ever_ear for prizes at the Feis Ceoil. On his fourth trial he had been awarded _ronze medal. He was extremely nervous and extremely jealous of other tenor_nd he covered his nervous jealousy with an ebullient friendliness. It was hi_umour to have people know what an ordeal a concert was to him. Therefore whe_e saw Mr. Duggan he went over to him and asked:
"Are you in it too? "
"Yes," said Mr. Duggan.
Mr. Bell laughed at his fellow-sufferer, held out his hand and said:
Mrs. Kearney passed by these two young men and went to the edge of the scree_o view the house. The seats were being filled up rapidly and a pleasant nois_irculated in the auditorium. She came back and spoke to her husban_rivately. Their conversation was evidently about Kathleen for they bot_lanced at her often as she stood chatting to one of her Nationalist friends, Miss Healy, the contralto. An unknown solitary woman with a pale face walke_hrough the room. The women followed with keen eyes the faded blue dress whic_as stretched upon a meagre body. Someone said that she was Madam Glynn, th_oprano.
"I wonder where did they dig her up," said Kathleen to Miss Healy. "I'm sure _ever heard of her."
Miss Healy had to smile. Mr. Holohan limped into the dressing-room at tha_oment and the two young ladies asked him who was the unknown woman. Mr.
Holohan said that she was Madam Glynn from London. Madam Glynn took her stan_n a corner of the room, holding a roll of music stiffly before her and fro_ime to time changing the direction of her startled gaze. The shadow took he_aded dress into shelter but fell revengefully into the little cup behind he_ollar-bone. The noise of the hall became more audible. The first tenor an_he baritone arrived together. They were both well dressed, stout an_omplacent and they brought a breath of opulence among the company.
Mrs. Kearney brought her daughter over to them, and talked to them amiably.
She wanted to be on good terms with them but, while she strove to be polite, her eyes followed Mr. Holohan in his limping and devious courses. As soon a_he could she excused herself and went out after him.
"Mr. Holohan, I want to speak to you for a moment," she said.
They went down to a discreet part of the corridor. Mrs Kearney asked him whe_as her daughter going to be paid. Mr. Holohan said that Mr. Fitzpatrick ha_harge of that. Mrs. Kearney said that she didn't know anything about Mr.
Fitzpatrick. Her daughter had signed a contract for eight guineas and sh_ould have to be paid. Mr. Holohan said that it wasn't his business.
"Why isn't it your business?" asked Mrs. Kearney. "Didn't you yourself brin_er the contract? Anyway, if it's not your business it's my business and _ean to see to it."
"You'd better speak to Mr. Fitzpatrick," said Mr. Holohan distantly.
"I don't know anything about Mr. Fitzpatrick," repeated Mrs. Kearney. "I hav_y contract, and I intend to see that it is carried out."
When she came back to the dressing-room her cheeks were slightly suffused. Th_oom was lively. Two men in outdoor dress had taken possession of th_ireplace and were chatting familiarly with Miss Healy and the baritone. The_ere the Freeman man and Mr. O'Madden Burke. The Freeman man had come in t_ay that he could not wait for the concert as he had to report the lectur_hich an American priest was giving in the Mansion House. He said they were t_eave the report for him at the Freeman office and he would see that it wen_n. He was a grey-haired man, with a plausible voice and careful manners. H_eld an extinguished cigar in his hand and the aroma of cigar smoke floate_ear him. He had not intended to stay a moment because concerts and artiste_ored him considerably but he remained leaning against the mantelpiece. Mis_ealy stood in front of him, talking and laughing. He was old enough t_uspect one reason for her politeness but young enough in spirit to turn th_oment to account. The warmth, fragrance and colour of her body appealed t_is senses. He was pleasantly conscious that the bosom which he saw rise an_all slowly beneath him rose and fell at that moment for him, that th_aughter and fragrance and wilful glances were his tribute. When he could sta_o longer he took leave of her regretfully.
"O'Madden Burke will write the notice," he explained to Mr. Holohan, "and I'l_ee it in."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Hendrick," said Mr. Holohan. you'll see it in, _now. Now, won't you have a little something before you go?"
"I don't mind," said Mr. Hendrick.
The two men went along some tortuous passages and up a dark staircase and cam_o a secluded room where one of the stewards was uncorking bottles for a fe_entlemen. One of these gentlemen was Mr. O'Madden Burke, who had found ou_he room by instinct. He was a suave, elderly man who balanced his imposin_ody, when at rest, upon a large silk umbrella. His magniloquent western nam_as the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of hi_inances. He was widely respected.
While Mr. Holohan was entertaining the Freeman man Mrs. Kearney was speakin_o animatedly to her husband that he had to ask her to lower her voice. Th_onversation of the others in the dressing-room had become strained. Mr. Bell, the first item, stood ready with his music but the accompanist made no sign.
Evidently something was wrong. Mr. Kearney looked straight before him, stroking his beard, while Mrs. Kearney spoke into Kathleen's ear with subdue_mphasis. From the hall came sounds of encouragement, clapping and stamping o_eet. The first tenor and the baritone and Miss Healy stood together, waitin_ranquilly, but Mr. Bell's nerves were greatly agitated because he was afrai_he audience would think that he had come late.
Mr. Holohan and Mr. O'Madden Burke came into the room In a moment Mr. Holoha_erceived the hush. He went over to Mrs. Kearney and spoke with her earnestly.
While they were speaking the noise in the hall grew louder. Mr. Holohan becam_ery red and excited. He spoke volubly, but Mrs. Kearney said curtly a_ntervals:
"She won't go on. She must get her eight guineas."
Mr. Holohan pointed desperately towards the hall where the audience wa_lapping and stamping. He appealed to Mr Kearney and to Kathleen. But Mr.
Kearney continued to stroke his beard and Kathleen looked down, moving th_oint of her new shoe: it was not her fault. Mrs. Kearney repeated:
"She won't go on without her money."
After a swift struggle of tongues Mr. Holohan hobbled out in haste. The roo_as silent. When the strain of the silence had become somewhat painful Mis_ealy said to the baritone:
"Have you seen Mrs. Pat Campbell this week?"
The baritone had not seen her but he had been told that she was very fine. Th_onversation went no further. The first tenor bent his head and began to coun_he links of the gold chain which was extended across his waist, smiling an_umming random notes to observe the effect on the frontal sinus. From time t_ime everyone glanced at Mrs. Kearney.
The noise in the auditorium had risen to a clamour when Mr. Fitzpatrick burs_nto the room, followed by Mr. Holohan who was panting. The clapping an_tamping in the hall were punctuated by whistling. Mr. Fitzpatrick held a fe_anknotes in his hand. He counted out four into Mrs. Kearney's hand and sai_he would get the other half at the interval. Mrs. Kearney said:
"This is four shillings short."
But Kathleen gathered in her skirt and said: "Now. Mr. Bell," to the firs_tem, who was shaking like an aspen. The singer and the accompanist went ou_ogether. The noise in hall died away. There was a pause of a few seconds: an_hen the piano was heard.
The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam Glynn'_tem. The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping voice, with all th_ld-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation which she believe_ent elegance to her singing. She looked as if she had been resurrected fro_n old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her hig_ailing notes. The first tenor and the contralto, however, brought down th_ouse. Kathleen played a selection of Irish airs which was generousl_pplauded. The first part closed with a stirring patriotic recitatio_elivered by a young lady who arranged amateur theatricals. It was deservedl_pplauded; and, when it was ended, the men went out for the interval, content.
All this time the dressing-room was a hive of excitement. In one corner wer_r. Holohan, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Miss Beirne, two of the stewards, the baritone, the bass, and Mr. O'Madden Burke. Mr. O'Madden Burke said it was the mos_candalous exhibition he had ever witnessed. Miss Kathleen Kearney's musica_areer was ended in Dublin after that, he said. The baritone was asked wha_id he think of Mrs. Kearney's conduct. He did not like to say anything. H_ad been paid his money and wished to be at peace with men. However, he sai_hat Mrs. Kearney might have taken the artistes into consideration. Th_tewards and the secretaries debated hotly as to what should be done when th_nterval came.
"I agree with Miss Beirne," said Mr. O'Madden Burke. "Pay her nothing."
In another corner of the room were Mrs. Kearney and he: husband, Mr. Bell, Miss Healy and the young lady who had to recite the patriotic piece. Mrs.
Kearney said that the Committee had treated her scandalously. She had spare_either trouble nor expense and this was how she was repaid.
They thought they had only a girl to deal with and that therefore, they coul_ide roughshod over her. But she would show them their mistake. They wouldn'_ave dared to have treated her like that if she had been a man. But she woul_ee that her daughter got her rights: she wouldn't be fooled. If they didn'_ay her to the last farthing she would make Dublin ring. Of course she wa_orry for the sake of the artistes. But what else could she do? She appeale_o the second tenor who said he thought she had not been well treated. The_he appealed to Miss Healy. Miss Healy wanted to join the other group but sh_id not like to do so because she was a great friend of Kathleen's and th_earneys had often invited her to their house.
As soon as the first part was ended Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Holohan went ove_o Mrs. Kearney and told her that the other four guineas would be paid afte_he committee meeting on the following Tuesday and that, in case her daughte_id not play for the second part, the committee would consider the contrac_roken and would pay nothing.
"I haven't seen any committee," said Mrs. Kearney angrily. "My daughter ha_er contract. She will get four pounds eight into her hand or a foot she won'_ut on that platform."
"I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Kearney," said Mr. Holohan. "I never thought yo_ould treat us this way."
"And what way did you treat me?" asked Mrs. Kearney.
Her face was inundated with an angry colour and she looked as if she woul_ttack someone with her hands.
"I'm asking for my rights." she said.
You might have some sense of decency," said Mr. Holohan.
"Might I, indeed?… And when I ask when my daughter is going to be paid I can'_et a civil answer."
She tossed her head and assumed a haughty voice:
"You must speak to the secretary. It's not my business. I'm a great fello_ol-the-diddle-I-do."
"I thought you were a lady," said Mr. Holohan, walking away from her abruptly.
After that Mrs. Kearney's conduct was condemned on all hands: everyon_pproved of what the committee had done. She stood at the door, haggard wit_age, arguing with her husband and daughter, gesticulating with them. Sh_aited until it was time for the second part to begin in the hope that th_ecretaries would approach her. But Miss Healy had kindly consented to pla_ne or two accompaniments. Mrs. Kearney had to stand aside to allow th_aritone and his accompanist to pass up to the platform. She stood still fo_n instant like an angry stone image and, when the first notes of the son_truck her ear, she caught up her daughter's cloak and said to her husband:
"Get a cab!"
He went out at once. Mrs. Kearney wrapped the cloak round her daughter an_ollowed him. As she passed through the doorway she stopped and glared int_r. Holohan's face.
"I'm not done with you yet," she said.
"But I'm done with you," said Mr. Holohan.
Kathleen followed her mother meekly. Mr. Holohan began to pace up and down th_oom, in order to cool himself for he his skin on fire.
"That's a nice lady!" he said. "O, she's a nice lady!"
You did the proper thing, Holohan," said Mr. O'Madden Burke, poised upon hi_mbrella in approval.