en-fr  Tobin’s Palm - A short story by O. Henry (1862 -1910)
La paume de la main de Tobin

Un jour, Tobin et moi descendîmes tous deux à Coney, car il y avait quatre dollars entre nous et Tobin avait besoin de se distraire. Car il y avait Katie Mahorner, sa bien-aimée, du Conté de Sligo, perdue de vue depuis qu’elle était partie pour l’Amérique trois mois avant avec deux cents dollars, ses propres économies, et cent dollars de la vente d’un bien dont Tobin avait hérité, une jolie fermette à cochons sur le marais Shannaugh. Et depuis la lettre que Tobin avait reçue disant qu’elle était partie le rejoindre , il n’avait pas lu ni entendu la moindre nouvelle de Katie Mahorner. Tobin passa des annonces dans les journaux, mais on ne trouva rien sur la jeune irlandaise. Tobin passa des annonces dans les journaux, mais on ne trouva rien sur la jeune irlandaise.

Ainsi donc, Tobin et moi nous en allâmes à Coney, pensant qu’un tour aux chutes et l’odeur du popcorn le réconforteraient peut-être. Mais Tobin était un entêté et la tristesse lui collait à la peau. Il grinça des dents devant les ballons pleureurs, il maudit les images animées et, bien qu’habituellement il bût chaque fois qu’on lui demandait, il dédaigna le spectacle de guignol, et fut partant pour mettre une raclée aux vendeurs de ferrotypes quand ils arrivèrent.

Donc je l’emmenai dans un passage latéral où les attractions étaient quelque peu moins violentes. Devant un étal de six pieds sur huit, Tobin s’arrêta avec un regard plus humain.

— C’est ici, dit-il, ça va m’amuser. La formidable chiromancienne du Nil va lire dans la paume de ma main et je verrai ce qui doit m’arriver.

Tobin croyait aux signes et au surnaturel dans la nature. Sa tête était remplie de convictions interdites concernant les chats noirs, les nombres porte-bonheur et les prévisions météorologiques dans les journaux.

Nous pénétrâmes dans le poulailler enchanté que rendaient mystérieux les tentures rouges et les dessins de mains traversées par des lignes comme un pôle ferroviaire. L’enseigne au-dessus de la porte annonçait que c’était Madame Zozo, la chiromancienne égyptienne. A l’intérieur se trouvait une grosse dame en robe chasuble rouge brodée de crochets et de bestioles. Tobin lui donne dix cents et lui tend une de ses mains. Elle soulève la main de Tobin, qui est la jumelle du sabot d’un cheval de trait et l’examine pour voir s’il y a un caillou dans la sole ou s’il a perdu un fer.

— Mon gars, dit cette Madame Zozo, votre ligne de chance montre... — Ce n'est pas du tout mon pied, l'interrompt Tobin. — Evidemment, ce n'est pas une merveille, mais vous tenez la paume de ma main.

— La ligne montre, dit la dame, que vous n'êtes pas parvenu à votre âge sans malchance. Et ce n'est pas fini. Le mont de Vénus. — ou est-ce un hématome? — montre que vous êtes tombé amoureux. Il y a eu des soucis dans votre vie à cause de votre chérie.

— C'est à Katie Mahorner qu'elle fait référence, me souffle Tobin à voix basse en se penchant vers moi.

— Je vois, dit la diseuse de bonne aventure, beaucoup de chagrin et de malheur avec une personne que vous ne pouvez pas oublier. Je vois les lignes de désignation pointer aux lettres K et M dans son nom.

Silence! me dit Tobin, t'entends ça ?

— Prenez-garde, poursuivit la chiromancienne, à un homme sombre et à une femme légère car ils vous apporteront un tas d’ennuis. Vous ferez très prochainement un voyage sur l'eau et vous subirez une perte financière. Je vois une ligne annonciatrice de bonne chance. Un homme va entrer dans votre vie et vous portera chance Quand vous le verrez, vous le reconnaîtrez à son nez crochu.

— Est-ce que son nom est inscrit ? demande Tobin. Ce serait pratique pour le saluer quand il reviendra pour nous porter la poisse.

— Les lignes de la main, dit la chiromancienne d’un air pensif, ne donnent pas clairement son nom mais elles indiquent que ce nom est long et devrait contenir la lettre « o ». Il n'y a plus rien à dire. Bonsoir. Ne bloquez pas l’entrée.

C'est merveilleux comme elle sait les choses, dit Tobin tandis que nous marchions vers l'embarcadère.

Comme nous passions la porte avec difficulté un nègre colle son cigare allumé contre l’oreille de Tobin et il y a du grabuge. Tobin le frappe sur la nuque, les femmes couinent et j’ai la présence d’esprit de traîner le petit homme à l’écart avant l’arrivée de la police. Tobin est toujours d’une humeur massacrante quand il s’amuse.

Sur le bateau du retour, quand l'homme demande "Qui veut le beau serveur?" Tobin essaya de plaider coupable, ressentant le désir de souffler sur la mousse d'une cruche de bibine, mais quand il mit la main dans sa poche il se trouva réhabilité par manque de preuve. Quelqu'un lui avait piqué sa monnaie pendant la bousculade. Donc nous nous assîmes, assoiffés, sur les tabourets de bar, écoutant les métèques qui jouaient du violon sur le pont. Cela étant, Tobin avait le moral encore plus bas et était moins agréable dans sa malchance que quand nous avions commencé.

Sur un siège contre la balustrade se trouvait une jeune femme vêtue d'une robe assortie aux automobiles rouges, à la chevelure couleur d'écume de mer. En passant devant elle, Tobin heurte son pied sans le vouloir et, poli avec les dames quand il boit, tente de faire tourner son chapeau en s'excusant. Mais il le fait tomber et le vent l'envoie par dessus bord.

Tobin revint et s'assit et je commençai à le surveiller car les malheurs du gars étaient en train de devenir fréquents. Il était susceptible, quand il était poussé si loin par la malchance, de donner un coup de pied au type le mieux habillé qu'il pouvait trouver et de tenter de prendre le commandement du bateau.

A ce moment, Tobin m'agrippe le bras et dit, excité : "Jawn, sais-tu ce que nous sommes en train de faire?" Nous voyageons sur l'eau.

— Bon maintenant, dis-je, calme-toi. Le bateau va accoster dans dix minutes au plus.

Regarde, dis-je, cette gracieuse dame sur le banc. Et as-tu oublié le nègre qui m'a brulé l'oreille? Et l'argent qui s'est envolé — un dollar et 65 cts, c'était?

Je pense qu'il ne faisait rien de plus que de faire la somme de ses catastrophes afin d'avoir une bonne excuse pour être violent, comme les hommes veulent faire, et je tentai de lui faire comprendre que de telles choses étaient des broutilles.

— Ecoute, dit Tobin. Tu n'entends rien au don de prophétie ou aux miracles des gens inspirés; Qu'est-ce que la chiromancienne t'a dit à propos de ma main? Ça se réalise devant tes yeux. Faites attention, elle dit, à un homme sombre et à une femme gracieuse; ils vous apporteront des ennuis. As-tu oublié le nègre, pourtant il doit se souvenir de mon poing? Peux-tu me montrer une femme plus gracieuse que la dame blonde à cause de qui mon chapeau est tombé à l'eau? Et où sont le dollar et les 65 cts que j'avais dans ma veste quand nous avons quitté le stand de tir?

La façon dont Tobin s'exprima, ça semblait vraiment corroborer l'art de la prédiction, bien qu'il me semblât que ces accidents auraient pu arriver à n'importe qui à Coney sans l'implication de la chiromancie.

Tobin monta et se promena sur le pont, regardant les passagers de près avec ses petits yeux rouges. Je lui demandai ce que signifiaient ses mouvements. On ne sait jamais quelle idée a Tobin avant qu'il ne commence à la mettre à exécution.

— Tu devrais savoir, dit-il, que je suis en train de trouver une solution au salut que me promettent les lignes de ma main. Je cherche l'homme au nez crochu qui doit me porter chance. C'est tout ce qui va nous sauver. Jawn, as-tu déjà vu une bande de chahuteurs au nez droit durant ta vie?

C'était le bateau de 9 H 30 et nous accostâmes et marchâmes jusqu'aux quartiers chics de 22e Rue, Tobin étant nue-tête.

A un coin de rue, debout sous un réverbère, regardant la lune au-dessus de la chaussée surélevée, se trouvait un homme. C'était un homme de haute taille, habillé correctement, un cigare entre les dents, et je vis que son nez faisait deux coudes depuis l'arête jusqu'à la pointe, comme un serpent qui se tortille. Tobin vit cela en même temps et je l'entendis souffler fort comme un cheval quand on enlève sa selle. Il se dirigea droit sur l'homme et je l'accompagnai.

— Bonne nuit à vous, dit Tobin à l'homme. L'homme ôta son cigare et rendit le compliment, aimablement.

— Pourriez-vous nous dire votre nom, demanda Tobin, que nous puissions voir sa longueur? Peut-être devrions-nous faire votre connaissance?

— Mon nom, dit l'homme poliment, est Friedenhausman—Maximus G. Friedenhausman.

— C'est la bonne longueur, dit Tobin. Est-ce que vous l'épelez avec un "o" quelque part dans le dernier tournant?

— Non, dit l'homme.

— Pouvez-vous l'épeler avec un "o"? questionna Tobin qui devenait inquiet.

— Si votre conscience, dit l'homme au nez, est mal à l'aise envers les idiomes étrangers, vous pourriez, pour vous faire plaisir, glisser en douce la lettre dans l'avant-dernière syllabe.

— C'est bien, dit Tobin. Vous avez devant vous Jawn Malone et Daniel Tobin.

— J'en suis absolument ravi, dit l'homme en s'inclinant. Et maintenant, puisque je ne peux pas imaginer que vous vouliez tenir un concours d'orthographe au coin de la rue, pourriez-vous citer une seule excuse raisonnable au fait que vous soyez en liberté?

— Par les deux caractéristiques, répond Tobin en tentant d'expliquer, que vous montrez conformément à la lecture de la chiromancienne égyptienne de la plante de ma main, vous avez été désigné pour compenser avec de la chance les lignes d'embêtements qui mènent au nègre et à la dame blonde aux jambes croisées sur le bateau, sans compter la perte pécuniaire d'un dollar et 65 cts, toutes jusqu'à présent accomplies selon Hoyle.

L'homme cessa de fumer et me regarda.

— Avez-vous des corrections, dit-il, à ajouter à cette affirmation, ou en faites-vous partie aussi? J'ai pensé en vous voyant que, peut-être, vous étiez responsable de lui.

— Absolument pas, lui dis-je, si ce n'est qu'un fer à cheval ressemble à un autre, ainsi êtes-vous l'image de la chance comme le prédit la main de mon ami. Sinon, alors il se peut que les lignes de la main de Dany se soient croisées, je ne sais pas.

— Vous êtes deux, dit l'homme au nez, cherchant un policier aux alentours. J'ai apprécié votre compagnie au plus haut point. Bonsoir.

Sur ce, il fourre le cigare dans sa bouche et traverse la rue à grands pas. Mais Tobin l'encadre d'un côté et moi de l'autre.

— Quoi! dit-il en s'arrêtant sur le trottoir d'en face et en repoussant son chapeau en arrière; vous me suivez? Je vous dis, dit-il d'une voix forte, que je suis fier de vous avoir rencontrés. Mais je souhaite vivement être débarrassé de vous. Je repars chez moi.

— Faites donc, dit Tobin en s'appuyant contre sa manche. Repartez chez vous. Et je m'assiérai devant votre porte jusqu'à ce que vous sortiez le matin. Car cela dépend de vous de parer le mauvais sort du nègre et de la blonde et la perte pécuniaire d'un dollar et 65 cts.

— C'est une étrange illusion, dit l'homme en se tournant vers moi en considérant que j'étais un fou plus raisonnable. Ne feriez-vous pas mieux de le ramener chez lui?

— Écoutez, lui dis-je. Daniel Tobin est aussi sensé qu'il l'a jamais été. Peut-être est-il un peu dérangé pour avoir assez bu pour troubler sa raison mais pas assez pour perdre ses esprits, mais il ne fait rien de plus que de suivre le chemin légitime de ses superstitions et prédictions, ce que je vais vous expliquer. Sur ce, je lui relate les faits concernant la chiromancienne et la façon dont le doigt de la superstition est pointé sur lui comme un instrument de la chance. — Maintenant, conclus-je, comprenez ma position dans cette bagarre. Je suis l'ami de mon ami Tobin selon mes interprétations. C'est facile d'être un ami pour les riches, car ça paie; ce n'est pas dur d'être un ami pour les pauvres, car vous êtes gonflé de gratitude et vous avez votre photo imprimée sur la façade d'un immeuble avec un seau à charbon et un orphelin dans chaque main. Mais cela met à rude épreuve l'art de l'amitié d'être un véritable ami pour un parfait imbécile. Et c'est ce que je fais, dis-je, car, à mon avis, il n'y a aucun avenir qui puisse être lu dans la paume de ma main qui n'y était pas imprimé avec un manche de pioche. Et, bien que vous ayez le nez le plus tordu de New York, je doute que tous les diseurs de bonne aventure qui font des affaires puisse extraire de la chance de vous. Mais les lignes de la main de Danny vous désignaient franchement et je vais l'aider à faire un essai avec vous jusqu'à ce qu'il soit convaincu que vous êtes sec.

Après ça, l'homme fait soudain demi-tour en riant. Il s'appuie sur une encoignure et s'esclaffe. Puis il nous donne, à moi et Tobin, des tapes dans le dos et nous attrape tous deux par un bras.

— Je me suis trompé, dit-il. Comment pouvais-je espérer que quelque chose d'aussi joli et magnifique tournerait le coin de la rue vers moi? J'en suis presque arrivé à m'en trouver indigne. Hard by, dit-il, est un café confortable et approprié pour le spectacle des singularités. Allons-y boire un verre tandis que nous discuterons de l'indisponibilité des inconditionnels.

Ce disant, il nous fit marcher moi et Tobin jusqu'à l'arrière salle d'une taverne, commanda les boissons et étala l'argent sur la table. Il nous regarda, Tobin et loi, comme ses frères et nous offrit des cigares.

— Vous devez savoir, dit l'homme du destin, que mon milieu est celui qu'on qualifie de littéraire. Je flâne dans la nuit, recherchant les singularités dans les foules et la vérité dans les cieux. Quand vous êtes venus vers moi, j'étais en contemplation de la route surélevée en conjonction avec le luminaire en chef de la nuit. Le métro est poésie et art: la lune n'est qu'un corps ennuyeux et sec, qui se meut machinalement. Mais ce sont des opinions personnelles, car, dans les affaires littéraires, les conditions sont inversées. J'ai bon espoir d'écrire un livre pour expliquer les choses étranges de la vie que j'ai découvertes.

— Vous allez me mettre dans un livre, dit Tobin, dégoutté; allez-vous me mettre dans un livre?

— Non, dit l'homme, car les couvertures ne vous retiendront pas. Pas encore. Le lieux que je puisse faire est de vous apprécier moi-même, car le moment n'est pas venu de détruire les limites de l'imprimerie. Vous auriez l'air fantastique en caractères d'imprimerie. Tout seul, par mes propres moyens, je dois boire ce calice d'allégresse. Mais, je vous remercie, les gars; je suis vraiment reconnaissant.

— Votre conversation, dit Tobin, soufflant à travers sa moustache et martelant la table du poing, est une horreur pour ma patience. Une chance m'était promise par le biais de votre nez crochu, mais vous donnez des fruits comme un roulement de tambour. Vous ressemblez, avec votre bruit de livres, au vent qui souffle à travers une fissure. Bien sûr, maintenant, je vais penser que la paume de ma main a menti sans la réalité du nègre et de la blonde et — Silence! dit l'homme de haute taille; la physionomie vous égarerait-elle? Mon nez fera ce qu'il peut dans la juste mesure. Remplissons à nouveau nos verres, car il est bon de garder les singularités bien humides, car elles sont sujettes à la détérioration dans une atmosphère morale sèche.

Donc, l'homme de littérature gagne bien sa vie, selon moi, car il paie tout, gaiement, mon capital et celui de Tobin étant épuisé par les prédictions. Mais Tobin est agacé et boit tranquillement avec un reflet rouge dans l'œil.

Un peu plus tard, nous sortons, car il était 11 heures et nous restons un peu debout sur le trottoir. Et alors l'homme dit qu'il doit rentrer chez lui et nous invite à l'accompagner dans cette direction. Nous arrivons à une rue traversière deux blocs plus loin, où il y a une rangée de maisons en briques avec de hauts perrons et des grilles de fer. L'homme s'arrête devant l'une d'elles et lève les yeux vers les fenêtres du haut qu'il découvre non éclairées.

— Voici mon humble demeure, dit-il, et je commence à m'apercevoir que ma femme est allée se coucher. Cependant je vais m'aventurer un peu dans la voie de l'hospitalité. Je souhaite que vous entriez dans la salle du sous-sol, où nous dinons, et que vous preniez un rafraîchissement convenable. Il y aura une peu de délicieux poulet froid, du fromage et une ou deux bouteilles de bière. Vous serez les bienvenus pour entrer et vous restaurer car je vous suis redevable en matière de divertissement.

Mon appétit et mon sens moral ainsi que ceux de Tobin étaient favorables à cette proposition, bien que cela coince fortement dans les superstitions de Danny de penser que quelques verres et un repas froid puisse constituer la bonne fortune promise par la paume de sa main.

— Descendez les marches, dit l'homme au nez crochu, et je vais rentrer par la porte du rez-de-chaussée et vous ouvrir. Je vais demander à la nouvelle fille de cuisine, dit-il, de vous faire un pot de café à boire avant que vous partiez. C'est du bon café que fait Katie Mahorner pour une gamine qui vient d'arriver depuis trois mois. Entrez, dit l'homme, et je vais vous l'envoyer.
unit 1
Tobin's Palm.
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unit 5
Tobin advertised in the papers, but nothing could be found of the colleen.
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unit 7
But Tobin was a hardheaded man, and the sadness stuck in his skin.
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unit 9
So I gets him down a side way on a board walk where the attractions were some less violent.
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unit 10
At a little six by eight stall Tobin halts, with a more human look in his eye.
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"'Tis here," says he, "I will be diverted.
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unit 13
Tobin was a believer in signs and the unnatural in nature.
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unit 16
The sign over the door says it is Madame Zozo the Egyptian Palmist.
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There was a fat woman inside in a red jumper with pothooks and beasties embroidered upon it.
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Tobin gives her ten cents and extends one of his hands.
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unit 21
"Sure, 'tis no beauty, but ye hold the palm of me hand."
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unit 22
"The line shows," says the Madame, "that ye've not arrived at your time of life without bad luck.
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unit 23
And there's more to come.
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unit 24
The mount of Venus—or is that a stone bruise?—shows that ye've been in love.
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unit 25
There's been trouble in your life on account of your sweetheart."
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unit 26
"'Tis Katie Mahorner she has references with," whispers Tobin to me in a loud voice to one side.
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I see the lines of designation point to the letter K and the letter M in her name."
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"Whist!"
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says Tobin to me, "do ye hear that?"
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Ye'll make a voyage upon the water very soon, and have a financial loss.
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I see one line that brings good luck.
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There's a man coming into your life who will fetch ye good fortune.
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Ye'll know him when ye see him by his crooked nose."
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"Is his name set down?"
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asks Tobin.
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"'Twill be convenient in the way of greeting when he backs up to dump off the good luck."
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There's no more to tell.
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unit 41
Good-evening.
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unit 42
Don't block up the door."
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unit 43
"'Tis wonderful how she knows," says Tobin as we walk to the pier.
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unit 46
Tobin is always in an ugly mood when enjoying himself.
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unit 47
On the boat going back, when the man calls "Who wants the good-looking waiter?"
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Somebody had disturbed his change during the commotion.
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So we sat, dry, upon the stools, listening to the Dagoes fiddling on deck.
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But he knocks it off, and the wind carries it overboard.
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Presently Tobin grabs my arm and says, excited: "Jawn," says he, "do ye know what we're doing?
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unit 58
We're taking a voyage upon the water."
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unit 59
"There now," says I; "subdue yeself.
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unit 60
The boat'll land in ten minutes more."
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unit 61
"Look," says he, "at the light lady upon the bench.
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unit 62
And have ye forgotten the nigger man that burned me ear?
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unit 63
And isn't the money I had gone—a dollar sixty-five it was?"
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unit 65
"Listen," says Tobin.
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unit 66
"Ye've no ear for the gift of prophecy or the miracles of the inspired.
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unit 67
What did the palmist lady tell ye out of me hand?
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'Tis coming true before your eyes.
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'Look out,' says she, 'for a dark man and a light woman; they'll bring ye trouble.'
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Have ye forgot the nigger man, though he got some of it back from me fist?
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And where's the dollar sixty-five I had in me vest when we left the shooting gallery?"
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I asked him the interpretation of his movements.
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unit 76
Ye never know what Tobin has in his mind until he begins to carry it out.
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"Ye should know," says he, "I'm working out the salvation promised by the lines in me palm.
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unit 78
I'm looking for the crooked-nose man that's to bring the good luck.
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'Tis all that will save us.
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Jawn, did ye ever see a straighter-nosed gang of hellions in the days of your life?"
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He went straight up to the man, and I went with him.
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unit 86
"Good-night to ye," Tobin says to the man.
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unit 87
The man takes out his segar and passes the compliments, sociable.
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unit 88
"Would ye hand us your name," asks Tobin, "and let us look at the size of it?
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unit 89
It may be our duty to become acquainted with ye."
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unit 90
"My name" says the man, polite, "is Friedenhausman—Maximus G.
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unit 91
Friedenhausman."
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unit 92
"'Tis the right length," says Tobin.
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unit 93
"Do you spell it with an 'o' anywhere down the stretch of it?"
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unit 94
"I do not," says the man.
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unit 95
"Can ye spell it with an 'o'?"
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unit 96
inquires Tobin, turning anxious.
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unit 98
"'Tis well," says Tobin.
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unit 99
"Ye're in the presence of Jawn Malone and Daniel Tobin."
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unit 100
"Tis highly appreciated," says the man, with a bow.
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unit 103
The man stopped smoking and looked at me.
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unit 104
"Have ye any amendments," he asks, "to offer to that statement, or are ye one too?
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unit 105
I thought by the looks of ye ye might have him in charge."
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unit 107
If not, then the lines of Danny's hand may have been crossed, I don't know."
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unit 108
unit 109
"I've enjoyed your company immense.
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unit 110
Good-night."
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unit 111
With that he shoves his segar in his mouth and moves across the street, stepping fast.
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unit 112
But Tobin sticks close to one side of him and me at the other.
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unit 113
"What!"
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unit 114
says he, stopping on the opposite sidewalk and pushing back his hat; "do ye follow me?
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unit 115
I tell ye," he says, very loud, "I'm proud to have met ye.
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unit 116
But it is my desire to be rid of ye.
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unit 117
I am off to me home."
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unit 118
"Do," says Tobin, leaning against his sleeve.
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unit 119
"Do be off to your home.
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unit 120
And I will sit at the door of it till ye come out in the morning.
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unit 122
"'Tis a strange hallucination," says the man, turning to me as a more reasonable lunatic.
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unit 123
"Hadn't ye better get him home?"
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unit 124
"Listen, man," says I to him.
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unit 125
"Daniel Tobin is as sensible as he ever was.
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unit 128
"Now, understand," I concludes, "my position in this riot.
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unit 129
I am the friend of me friend Tobin, according to me interpretations.
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unit 131
But it strains the art of friendship to be true friend to a born fool.
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unit 135
After that the man turns, sudden, to laughing.
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unit 136
He leans against a corner and laughs considerable.
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unit 137
Then he claps me and Tobin on the backs of us and takes us by an arm apiece.
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unit 138
"'Tis my mistake," says he.
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unit 139
"How could I be expecting anything so fine and wonderful to be turning the corner upon me?
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unit 140
I came near being found unworthy.
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unit 141
Hard by," says he, "is a café, snug and suitable for the entertainment of idiosyncrasies.
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unit 142
Let us go there and have drink while we discuss the unavailability of the categorical."
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unit 144
He looks at me and Tobin like brothers of his, and we have the segars.
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unit 145
unit 146
I wander abroad be night seeking idiosyncrasies in the masses and truth in the heavens above.
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unit 148
The rapid transit is poetry and art: the moon but a tedious, dry body, moving by rote.
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unit 149
But these are private opinions, for, in the business of literature, the conditions are reversed.
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unit 150
'Tis me hope to be writing a book to explain the strange things I have discovered in life."
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unit 151
"Ye will put me in a book," says Tobin, disgusted; "will ye put me in a book?"
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unit 152
"I will not," says the man, "for the covers will not hold ye.
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unit 153
Not yet.
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unit 155
Ye would look fantastic in type.
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unit 156
All alone by meself must I drink this cup of joy.
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unit 157
But, I thank ye, boys; I am truly grateful."
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unit 159
unit 160
Ye resemble, with your noise of books, the wind blowing through a crack.
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unit 162
says the long man; "would ye be led astray by physiognomy?
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unit 163
Me nose will do what it can within bounds.
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unit 166
But Tobin is sore, and drinks quiet, with the red showing in his eye.
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unit 167
By and by we moved out, for 'twas eleven o'clock, and stands a bit upon the sidewalk.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 168
And then the man says he must be going home, and invites me and Tobin to walk that way.
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unit 170
The man stops at one of them and looks up at the top windows which he finds dark.
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unit 172
Therefore I will venture a bit in the way of hospitality.
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unit 173
unit 174
There will be some fine cold fowl and cheese and a bottle or two of ale.
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unit 175
Ye will be welcome to enter and eat, for I am indebted to ye for diversions."
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unit 179
'Tis fine coffee Katie Mahorner makes for a green girl just landed three months.
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unit 180
Step in," says the man, "and I'll send her down to ye."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 29  1 year, 1 month ago

Tobin's Palm.

Tobin and me, the two of us, went down to Coney one day, for there was four dollars between us, and Tobin had need of distractions. For there was Katie Mahorner, his sweetheart, of County Sligo, lost since she started for America three months before with two hundred dollars, her own savings, and one hundred dollars from the sale of Tobin's inherited estate, a fine cottage and pig on the Bog Shannaugh. And since the letter that Tobin got saying that she had started to come to him not a bit of news had he heard or seen of Katie Mahorner. Tobin advertised in the papers, but nothing could be found of the colleen.

So, to Coney me and Tobin went, thinking that a turn at the chutes and the smell of the popcorn might raise the heart in his bosom. But Tobin was a hardheaded man, and the sadness stuck in his skin. He ground his teeth at the crying balloons; he cursed the moving pictures; and, though he would drink whenever asked, he scorned Punch and Judy, and was for licking the tintype men as they came.

So I gets him down a side way on a board walk where the attractions were some less violent. At a little six by eight stall Tobin halts, with a more human look in his eye.

"'Tis here," says he, "I will be diverted. I'll have the palm of me hand investigated by the wonderful palmist of the Nile, and see if what is to be will be."

Tobin was a believer in signs and the unnatural in nature. He possessed illegal convictions in his mind along the subjects of black cats, lucky numbers, and the weather predictions in the papers.

We went into the enchanted chicken coop, which was fixed mysterious with red cloth and pictures of hands with lines crossing 'em like a railroad centre. The sign over the door says it is Madame Zozo the Egyptian Palmist. There was a fat woman inside in a red jumper with pothooks and beasties embroidered upon it. Tobin gives her ten cents and extends one of his hands. She lifts Tobin's hand, which is own brother to the hoof of a drayhorse, and examines it to see whether 'tis a stone in the frog or a cast shoe he has come for.

"Man," says this Madame Zozo, "the line of your fate shows—"

"Tis not me foot at all," says Tobin, interrupting. "Sure, 'tis no beauty, but ye hold the palm of me hand."

"The line shows," says the Madame, "that ye've not arrived at your time of life without bad luck. And there's more to come. The mount of Venus—or is that a stone bruise?—shows that ye've been in love. There's been trouble in your life on account of your sweetheart."

"'Tis Katie Mahorner she has references with," whispers Tobin to me in a loud voice to one side.

"I see," says the palmist, "a great deal of sorrow and tribulation with one whom ye cannot forget. I see the lines of designation point to the letter K and the letter M in her name."

"Whist!" says Tobin to me, "do ye hear that?"

"Look out," goes on the palmist, "for a dark man and a light woman; for they'll both bring ye trouble. Ye'll make a voyage upon the water very soon, and have a financial loss. I see one line that brings good luck. There's a man coming into your life who will fetch ye good fortune. Ye'll know him when ye see him by his crooked nose."

"Is his name set down?" asks Tobin. "'Twill be convenient in the way of greeting when he backs up to dump off the good luck."

"His name," says the palmist, thoughtful looking, "is not spelled out by the lines, but they indicate 'tis a long one, and the letter 'o' should be in it. There's no more to tell. Good-evening. Don't block up the door."

"'Tis wonderful how she knows," says Tobin as we walk to the pier.

As we squeezed through the gates a nigger man sticks his lighted segar against Tobin's ear, and there is trouble. Tobin hammers his neck, and the women squeal, and by presence of mind I drag the little man out of the way before the police comes. Tobin is always in an ugly mood when enjoying himself.

On the boat going back, when the man calls "Who wants the good-looking waiter?" Tobin tried to plead guilty, feeling the desire to blow the foam off a crock of suds, but when he felt in his pocket he found himself discharged for lack of evidence. Somebody had disturbed his change during the commotion. So we sat, dry, upon the stools, listening to the Dagoes fiddling on deck. If anything, Tobin was lower in spirits and less congenial with his misfortunes than when we started.

On a seat against the railing was a young woman dressed suitable for red automobiles, with hair the colour of an unsmoked meerschaum. In passing by, Tobin kicks her foot without intentions, and, being polite to ladies when in drink, he tries to give his hat a twist while apologising. But he knocks it off, and the wind carries it overboard.

Tobin came back and sat down, and I began to look out for him, for the man's adversities were becoming frequent. He was apt, when pushed so close by hard luck, to kick the best dressed man he could see, and try to take command of the boat.

Presently Tobin grabs my arm and says, excited: "Jawn," says he, "do ye know what we're doing? We're taking a voyage upon the water."

"There now," says I; "subdue yeself. The boat'll land in ten minutes more."

"Look," says he, "at the light lady upon the bench. And have ye forgotten the nigger man that burned me ear? And isn't the money I had gone—a dollar sixty-five it was?"

I thought he was no more than summing up his catastrophes so as to get violent with good excuse, as men will do, and I tried to make him understand such things was trifles.

"Listen," says Tobin. "Ye've no ear for the gift of prophecy or the miracles of the inspired. What did the palmist lady tell ye out of me hand? 'Tis coming true before your eyes. 'Look out,' says she, 'for a dark man and a light woman; they'll bring ye trouble.' Have ye forgot the nigger man, though he got some of it back from me fist? Can ye show me a lighter woman than the blonde lady that was the cause of me hat falling in the water? And where's the dollar sixty-five I had in me vest when we left the shooting gallery?"

The way Tobin put it, it did seem to corroborate the art of prediction, though it looked to me that these accidents could happen to any one at Coney without the implication of palmistry.

Tobin got up and walked around on deck, looking close at the passengers out of his little red eyes. I asked him the interpretation of his movements. Ye never know what Tobin has in his mind until he begins to carry it out.

"Ye should know," says he, "I'm working out the salvation promised by the lines in me palm. I'm looking for the crooked-nose man that's to bring the good luck. 'Tis all that will save us. Jawn, did ye ever see a straighter-nosed gang of hellions in the days of your life?"

'Twas the nine-thirty boat, and we landed and walked up-town through Twenty-second Street, Tobin being without his hat.

On a street corner, standing under a gas-light and looking over the elevated road at the moon, was a man. A long man he was, dressed decent, with a segar between his teeth, and I saw that his nose made two twists from bridge to end, like the wriggle of a snake. Tobin saw it at the same time, and I heard him breathe hard like a horse when you take the saddle off. He went straight up to the man, and I went with him.

"Good-night to ye," Tobin says to the man. The man takes out his segar and passes the compliments, sociable.

"Would ye hand us your name," asks Tobin, "and let us look at the size of it? It may be our duty to become acquainted with ye."

"My name" says the man, polite, "is Friedenhausman—Maximus G. Friedenhausman."

"'Tis the right length," says Tobin. "Do you spell it with an 'o' anywhere down the stretch of it?"

"I do not," says the man.

"Can ye spell it with an 'o'?" inquires Tobin, turning anxious.

"If your conscience," says the man with the nose, "is indisposed toward foreign idioms ye might, to please yourself, smuggle the letter into the penultimate syllable."

"'Tis well," says Tobin. "Ye're in the presence of Jawn Malone and Daniel Tobin."

"Tis highly appreciated," says the man, with a bow. "And now since I cannot conceive that ye would hold a spelling bee upon the street corner, will ye name some reasonable excuse for being at large?"

"By the two signs," answers Tobin, trying to explain, "which ye display according to the reading of the Egyptian palmist from the sole of me hand, ye've been nominated to offset with good luck the lines of trouble leading to the nigger man and the blonde lady with her feet crossed in the boat, besides the financial loss of a dollar sixty-five, all so far fulfilled according to Hoyle."

The man stopped smoking and looked at me.

"Have ye any amendments," he asks, "to offer to that statement, or are ye one too? I thought by the looks of ye ye might have him in charge."

"None," says I to him, "except that as one horseshoe resembles another so are ye the picture of good luck as predicted by the hand of me friend. If not, then the lines of Danny's hand may have been crossed, I don't know."

"There's two of ye," says the man with the nose, looking up and down for the sight of a policeman. "I've enjoyed your company immense. Good-night."

With that he shoves his segar in his mouth and moves across the street, stepping fast. But Tobin sticks close to one side of him and me at the other.

"What!" says he, stopping on the opposite sidewalk and pushing back his hat; "do ye follow me? I tell ye," he says, very loud, "I'm proud to have met ye. But it is my desire to be rid of ye. I am off to me home."

"Do," says Tobin, leaning against his sleeve. "Do be off to your home. And I will sit at the door of it till ye come out in the morning. For the dependence is upon ye to obviate the curse of the nigger man and the blonde lady and the financial loss of the one-sixty-five."

"'Tis a strange hallucination," says the man, turning to me as a more reasonable lunatic. "Hadn't ye better get him home?"

"Listen, man," says I to him. "Daniel Tobin is as sensible as he ever was. Maybe he is a bit deranged on account of having drink enough to disturb but not enough to settle his wits, but he is no more than following out the legitimate path of his superstitions and predicaments, which I will explain to you." With that I relates the facts about the palmist lady and how the finger of suspicion points to him as an instrument of good fortune. "Now, understand," I concludes, "my position in this riot. I am the friend of me friend Tobin, according to me interpretations. 'Tis easy to be a friend to the prosperous, for it pays; 'tis not hard to be a friend to the poor, for ye get puffed up by gratitude and have your picture printed standing in front of a tenement with a scuttle of coal and an orphan in each hand. But it strains the art of friendship to be true friend to a born fool. And that's what I'm doing," says I, "for, in my opinion, there's no fortune to be read from the palm of me hand that wasn't printed there with the handle of a pick. And, though ye've got the crookedest nose in New York City, I misdoubt that all the fortune-tellers doing business could milk good luck from ye. But the lines of Danny's hand pointed to ye fair, and I'll assist him to experiment with ye until he's convinced ye're dry."

After that the man turns, sudden, to laughing. He leans against a corner and laughs considerable. Then he claps me and Tobin on the backs of us and takes us by an arm apiece.

"'Tis my mistake," says he. "How could I be expecting anything so fine and wonderful to be turning the corner upon me? I came near being found unworthy. Hard by," says he, "is a café, snug and suitable for the entertainment of idiosyncrasies. Let us go there and have drink while we discuss the unavailability of the categorical."

So saying, he marched me and Tobin to the back room of a saloon, and ordered the drinks, and laid the money on the table. He looks at me and Tobin like brothers of his, and we have the segars.

"Ye must know," says the man of destiny, "that me walk in life is one that is called the literary. I wander abroad be night seeking idiosyncrasies in the masses and truth in the heavens above. When ye came upon me I was in contemplation of the elevated road in conjunction with the chief luminary of night. The rapid transit is poetry and art: the moon but a tedious, dry body, moving by rote. But these are private opinions, for, in the business of literature, the conditions are reversed. 'Tis me hope to be writing a book to explain the strange things I have discovered in life."

"Ye will put me in a book," says Tobin, disgusted; "will ye put me in a book?"

"I will not," says the man, "for the covers will not hold ye. Not yet. The best I can do is to enjoy ye meself, for the time is not ripe for destroying the limitations of print. Ye would look fantastic in type. All alone by meself must I drink this cup of joy. But, I thank ye, boys; I am truly grateful."

"The talk of ye," says Tobin, blowing through his moustache and pounding the table with his fist, "is an eyesore to me patience. There was good luck promised out of the crook of your nose, but ye bear fruit like the bang of a drum. Ye resemble, with your noise of books, the wind blowing through a crack. Sure, now, I would be thinking the palm of me hand lied but for the coming true of the nigger man and the blonde lady and—"

"Whist!" says the long man; "would ye be led astray by physiognomy? Me nose will do what it can within bounds. Let us have these glasses filled again, for 'tis good to keep idiosyncrasies well moistened, they being subject to deterioration in a dry moral atmosphere."

So, the man of literature makes good, to my notion, for he pays, cheerful, for everything, the capital of me and Tobin being exhausted by prediction. But Tobin is sore, and drinks quiet, with the red showing in his eye.

By and by we moved out, for 'twas eleven o'clock, and stands a bit upon the sidewalk. And then the man says he must be going home, and invites me and Tobin to walk that way. We arrives on a side street two blocks away where there is a stretch of brick houses with high stoops and iron fences. The man stops at one of them and looks up at the top windows which he finds dark.

"'Tis me humble dwelling," says he, "and I begin to perceive by the signs that me wife has retired to slumber. Therefore I will venture a bit in the way of hospitality. 'Tis me wish that ye enter the basement room, where we dine, and partake of a reasonable refreshment. There will be some fine cold fowl and cheese and a bottle or two of ale. Ye will be welcome to enter and eat, for I am indebted to ye for diversions."

The appetite and conscience of me and Tobin was congenial to the proposition, though 'twas sticking hard in Danny's superstitions to think that a few drinks and a cold lunch should represent the good fortune promised by the palm of his hand.

"Step down the steps," says the man with the crooked nose, "and I will enter by the door above and let ye in. I will ask the new girl we have in the kitchen," says he, "to make ye a pot of coffee to drink before ye go. 'Tis fine coffee Katie Mahorner makes for a green girl just landed three months. Step in," says the man, "and I'll send her down to ye."