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Chapter 13 A Mother

  • 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:
  • "Shake!"
  • 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.