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The Drunkard
by [?]

I should have advised him about lemonade but he was holding forth himself in great style. I heard him say that bands were a great addition to a funeral. He put his arms in the position of someone holding a rifle in reverse and hummed a few bars of Chopin’s Funeral March. Crowley nodded reverently. I took a longer drink and began to see that porter might have its advantages. I felt pleasantly elevated and philosophic. Father hummed a few bars of the Dead March in Saul. It was a nice pub and a very fine funeral, and I felt sure that poor Mr. Dooley in Heaven must be highly gratified. At the same time I thought they might have given him a band. As Father said, bands were a great addition.

But the wonderful thing about porter was the way it made you stand aside, or rather float aloft like a cherub rolling on a cloud, and watch yourself with your legs crossed, leaning against a bar counter, not worrying about trifles but thinking deep, serious, grown-up thoughts about life and death. Looking at yourself like that, you couldn’t help thinking after a while how funny you looked, and suddenly you got embarrassed and wanted to giggle. But by the time I had finished the pint, that phase too had passed; I found it hard to put back the glass, the counter seemed to have grown so high. Melancholia was supervening again.

“Well,” Father said reverently, reaching behind him for his drink, “God rest the poor man’s soul, wherever he is!” He stopped, looked first at the glass, and then at the people round him. “Hello,” he said in a fairly good-humored tone, as if he were just prepared to consider it a joke, even if it was in bad taste, “who was at this?”

There was silence for a moment while the publican and the old women looked first at Father and then at his glass.

“There was no one at it, my good man,” one of the women said with a offended air. “Is it robbers you think we are?”

“Ah, there’s no one here would do a thing like that, Mick,” said the publican in a shocked tone.

“Well, someone did it,” said Father, his smile beginning to wear off.

“If they did, they were them that were nearer it,” said the woman darkly, giving me a dirty look; and at the same moment the truth began to dawn on Father. I supposed I might have looked a bit starry-eyed. He bent and shook me.

“Are you all right, Larry?” he asked in alarm.

Peter Crowley looked down at me and grinned.

“Could you beat that?” he exclaimed in a husky voice.

I could, and without difficulty. I started to get sick. Father jumped back in holy terror that I might spoil his good suit, and hastily opened the back door.

“Run! run! run!” he shouted.

I saw the sunlit wall outside with the ivy overhanging it, and ran. The intention was good but the performance was exaggerated, because I lurched right into the wall, hurting it badly, as it seemed to me. Being always very polite, I said “Pardon” before the second bout came on me. Father, still concerned for his suit, came up behind and cautiously held me while I got sick.

“That’s a good boy!” he said encouragingly. “You’ll be grand when you get that up.”

Begor, I was not grand! Grand was the last thing I was. I gave one unmerciful wail out of me as he steered me back to the pub and put me sitting on the bench near the shawlies. They drew themselves up with an offended air, still sore at the suggestion that they had drunk his pint.