James Joyce
by James Joyce

The Sisters
An Encounter
After the Race
Two Gallants
The Boarding House
A Little Cloud
A Painful Case
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
A Mother
The Dead


THERE was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night
after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the
lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in
the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see
the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two
candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: "I
am not long for this world," and I had thought his words idle. Now I
knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window I said
softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in
my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in
the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some
maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to
be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.
Old Cotter was sitting at the fire, smoking, when I came downstairs to
supper. While my aunt was ladling out my stirabout he said, as if
returning to some former remark of his:
"No, I wouldn't say he was exactly... but there was something queer...
there was something uncanny about him. I'll tell you my opinion...."
He began to puff at his pipe, no doubt arranging his opinion in his mind.
Tiresome old fool! When we knew him first he used to be rather
interesting, talking of faints and worms; but I soon grew tired of him
and his endless stories about the distillery.
"I have my own theory about it," he said. "I think it was one of those ...
peculiar cases .... But it's hard to say...."
He began to puff again at his pipe without giving us his theory. My
uncle saw me staring and said to me:

"Well, so your old friend is gone, you'll be sorry to hear."
"Who?" said I.
"Father Flynn."
"Is he dead?"
"Mr. Cotter here has just told us. He was passing by the house."
I knew that I was under observation so I continued eating as if the news
had not interested me. My uncle explained to old Cotter.
"The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a
great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him."
"God have mercy on his soul," said my aunt piously.
Old Cotter looked at me for a while. I felt that his little beady black
eyes were examining me but I would not satisfy him by looking up
from my plate. He returned to his pipe and finally spat rudely into the
"I wouldn't like children of mine," he said, "to have too much to say to
a man like that."
"How do you mean, Mr. Cotter?" asked my aunt.
"What I mean is," said old Cotter, "it's bad for children. My idea is: let
a young lad run about and play with young lads of his own age and not
be... Am I right, Jack?"
"That's my principle, too," said my uncle. "Let him learn to box his
corner. That's what I'm always saying to that Rosicrucian there: take
exercise. Why, when I was a nipper every morning of my life I had a
cold bath, winter and summer. And that's what stands to me now.
Education is all very fine and large.... Mr. Cotter might take a pick of
that leg mutton," he added to my aunt.

"No, no, not for me," said old Cotter.
My aunt brought the dish from the safe and put it on the table.
"But why do you think it's not good for children, Mr. Cotter?" she
"It's bad for children," said old Cotter, "because their mind are so
impressionable. When children see things like that, you know, it has an
I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to
my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile!
It was late when I fell asleep. Though I was angry with old Cotter for
alluding to me as a child, I puzzled my head to extract meaning from
his unfinished sentences. In the dark of my room I imagined that I saw
again the heavy grey face of the paralytic. I drew the blankets over my
head and tried to think of Christmas. But the grey face still followed me.
It murmured,
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