An Irishman and a Jew


THE liner plunged down the first of the great Biscay seas and met the second with a crash and shudder that set in motion all movable objects within her. The sigh of human beings, each in his prison of paneled teak or painted iron, sounded through the Alhaurin like a passing ghost, while a loose water pipe, a chair sliding across the lounge, a falling shaving brush, and the crated locomotive at the bottom of No. 3 Hold mingled their sounds with a thousand others into one distant and all-pervasive groan.

Mr. Flynn, finding his feet suddenly higher than his head, was inspired to raise them still higher and to kick a tattoo against the springs of the empty bunk above him.

‘Danno, me boy,’ he said loudly, ‘ye’ve been shipped to Buenos Aires like an old maid’s dream. Ye’re dishonored forever, Danno, and the little yellow man that bought your soul will be driving you to market seven days a week. Or would they be eating horseflesh, now, in Brazil? God help you, you have the drink taken, and there’s none to listen to you!’

Danno Flynn heaved himself down his bunk until the small of his back was resting upon the foot of it. From this position he could reach the bell with his big toe; he rang it, propped up his heel on the rosette, crossed his legs, and fell asleep again.

His precarious balance was disturbed by the opening of the stateroom door. Mr. Flynn raised his knees to his chest, and a simultaneous and violent pitch of the ship rolled him head over heels so that he came to rest on all fours. With his dark skin, his hair falling over his eyes, and the black and gray of his unshaven bristles and untidy moustache, he looked remarkably like an excited sheep dog. The steward stared at this tousled quadruped, which stared back at him.

‘Wuff, wuff!’ barked Danno Flynn, suddenly appreciating his own fantastic appearance.

‘Is there anything you want, sir?’ stammered the steward, carefully keeping all but his head and one shoulder behind the door.

‘There is,’ said Danno. ‘Will ye tell the Canine Defense League of Connemara that I am shipped to Buenos Aires ? ’

‘It says on your card that you’re going to Santos, sir.’

‘Do you have the time now, steward?’ asked Danno, seeing that conversation with this literal-minded Englishman would be difficult.

‘Eight, o’clock —and the second day out from London, sir,’ answered the steward pointedly.

‘And where the devil are we?’

‘In the Bay.’

‘Be God, if it’s a bay,’ said Danno Flynn, ‘’tis no liking I will have for the ocean. Or is it a bay now beyond the western isles where the waves dance from the four corners of the world, and the heroes catting into them from the right hand and from the left as they sail to their long home?’

‘It’s the Bay of Biscay, sir,’ said the steward.

‘Then I’ll be having a beer.’

‘Sorry, sir! Bar’s shut!’

‘Ah, to hell with you!’ said Danno, rolling backwards and pulling the sheets over his head.

At midday the Alhaurin was a dripping nucleus of solidity between the low gray sky above her and the gray seas that she rode. The squalls blew up from the west, driving hard and low into the promenade decks. The spray and rain swept the main deck so that the hatches between the first and third class were low islands in a miniature surf that broke against them with every roll of the ship. There was no one about save an occasional oilskinned seaman or officer paddling grimly to duty. Under the lee of the smoking room two hardy Englishwomen were bundled up in chairs and regarding the Bay with well-bred contempt; they gave an impression of holding under their rugs Britannia’s shield and trident.

Mr. Flynn lurched out of the smoking room, attired in an old sweater and tweed trousers. He had neither shaved nor brushed his hair, and was wet, dirty, and unsteady as the Alhaurin herself. He greeted the ladies loudly.

‘Good morning to you!’

‘A nice, fresh morning,’ answered the elder Britannia cheerfully.

‘It is, ma’am. But it’s a poor ship, God help us!’

‘Oh dear!’ said the younger. ‘Don’t you think she’s safe?’

‘Safe, is it? She’d float with the gas that’s in the bottled beer,’ — Danno raised his hand to his mouth and produced a sound as sudden and alarming as a sergeant-major’s word of command, — ‘ and I ask you, ma’am, would ye have shipped to Buenos Aires and you knowing there’s not a barrel of beer in her?’

‘My dear,’ whispered the younger Britannia, ‘I’m afraid he’s a little — er —’

‘Good morning,’said the elder Britannia severely.

Danno Flynn took a turn round the promenade deck and looked in through the windows of the lounge and writing room. The Alhaurin was carrying two hundred first-class passengers to the Atlantic ports of South America, most of them enjoying a three weeks’ passage paid by an employer and without a worry except how to get the bar bill on to the expense account; but, under the circumstances, they were in no mood for conversation and glanced coldly at Danno’s wild, dripping, and cheerful head. He gripped the rails of the companion in both hands and slid from B deck to C deck, from C deck to D deck, and from D deck into a puddle of water on the main deck. In the hope of human society he splashed across to the immigrant saloon.

In the third-class were another happy group whose passages had been paid — Czech and Polish peasants contracted to work and expected to die in the Chaco — and an unhappy group of Central European Jews who had paid their own. The saloon stank of oilcloth, stale cucumbers, and sweat. Wooden benches ran along the walls, and opposite them were iron tables and uncompromising wooden chairs screwed severely into the floor.

On four benches Danno saw prostrate bodies ending in heavy knee-high boots. On another was a shapeless mound of greasy shawls that finally resolved itself into a Polish woman, her small son, and a bundle of pitiable possessions which she did not dare leave in the cabin. In the recess on one side of the steward’s pantry was a grave Jew in frock coat and skull cap staring at nothing and moving his lips; and in the other recess was a tall girl in a blue sweater and skirt with a red ribbon round her dark head. She was reading, and had bare, slim, impatient, and rather furry legs which ended in sandals.

‘Good morning to you,’ said Danno to the barman.

‘Good morning, sir.’

‘Have you beer, steward?’

‘Draft or bottled, sir?’

‘Now would ye believe that I must walk through six inches of raging ocean to quench my thirst when they have but to carry a barrel up a pair of ladders?’ asked Danno triumphantly. ‘I’ll have draft, me boy, and will you be taking one with me?’

‘Thank you, sir.’

‘And the lady, too. Will ye have a beer, ma’am, or a drop of what you fancy?’

‘Thank you,’ said the girl with a slight foreign accent, ‘but I don’t drink.’

‘Ah, and what would ye say to that?’ exclaimed Danno, unabashed.

He turned to the old man on the other side.

‘Will your reverence take a beer?’ he asked.

The Jew looked up, startled, and met Mr. Flynn’s dancing eyes. What had been said to him he did not know, but, seeing that he had to deal with a rowdy, aggressive, powerful, and incomprehensible Gentile, he assumed that it had been an insolence. He did not reply, and returned with dignity to his meditation.

‘Be God, ’tis an unsociable ship!’ said Danno Flynn.

‘He did n’t understand you,’ explained the girl. ‘My father speaks hardly any English.’

‘Like me grandad,’ Danno replied. ‘But he’d understand if you asked him what he would take — for it was not often he heard them words, he being the thirstiest man in Connemara. Beer?’ he asked very loudly. ‘Will ye take a beer?’

He swayed to the motion of the ship, the surface of the beer in his glass forming an acute angle to the level of the floor. The girl’s father, overcome by this monstrous prodigy of plane surfaces, collapsed upon the table with a groan.

Danno slid a hand under his shoulders and deposited him at full length on the bench with a rug beneath his head. His movements were so swift and confident that, though the girl had rushed simultaneously to her father, there was nothing for her to do but flutter anxiously around him.

’What is it? ’ she sobbed. ‘ He is wornout. Is there a doctor? Get me a doctor.’

‘I am a doctor meself,’ said Danno, ‘so let you not be troubling your pretty head. ’T is the seasickness, and nothing else at all. I should not have been disturbing his reverence the way he is, and I the last straw that turns the camel’s stomach.’

‘Will it pass? Are you sure it will pass?’

‘He’ll be easy when ’t is calm,’ answered Danno positively. ‘Is it the first time he is at sea?’

‘The first time that either of us is at sea,’ she replied.

‘Ah, to be sure! You’ll come from a far country.’

‘From Germany.’

‘And is it not a wonder,’ exclaimed Danno cordially, ‘that you are after leaving Germany and I Eire, and we meeting in the rainy ocean with no land under our feet at all?’

The smell of the saloon and the effort of listening to an unfamiliar dialect of English were too much for her.

‘Oh, please!’ she cried. ‘You will excuse me. I — I am tired! ’

She rushed into the open air. The wind seemed to pick up her slim, swaying body and carry it away.

‘To be sure, ’t is not all of us have voyaged to Liverpool with the cattle as I have meself,’ remarked Danno. ‘Will ye take a beer, steward?’

The Alhaurin slid sideways down an invisible slope and recovered her balance with a lurch like that of a self-conscious drunk. A crate of bottles glided across the floor of the pantry, and the steward grabbed the edge of his sink with both hands. Danno Flynn, seeing the back of his neck turn from brown to green, gave up hope of further conversation and returned to his cabin in the firstclass.


Danno spent the following day drinking beer with the immigrants from eleven to one and six to eleven. While the ship was in Lisbon and the bar closed, he slept; but as soon as the steward, halfway down the Tagus, reopened his hatch he let in the upper half of Mr. Flynn’s waiting body and began to serve his charges with Mr. Flynn’s free drinks. So it went on for three days, until steady irrigation with beer broke the drought in Danno’s interior. Thereafter he continued to spend his time in the third-class saloon and his hospitality was as promiscuous as ever, but he drank in half pints instead of pints; he shaved; he clipped his moustache; and he began to pay more attention to the slim Berta Feitel than to the bar.

The peasant immigrants did not worry themselves to account for the visitor and his streams of beer. If, having a firstclass ticket, he chose to drink in the third-class bar, they assumed — those of them who were intelligent enough to assume anything— that it was because the drinks were cheaper. To the Jews, however, he was a mystery. They could not understand why anyone should prefer the cheerless, reeking immigrant saloon to the luxury, envied and therefore exaggerated, of the first-class. Most of them, sitting in melancholy resignation before the punishment their God had inflicted on them, welcomed Mr. Flynn as a comparatively pleasant chastisement. A few were suspicious.

‘Oy, Berta! What has he been telling you? A doctor? That man? Of course he is no doctor! Did he tell you so, Berta?’

Her questioner laughed irritatingly, making a sound like fee-fee-fee through his little round mouth. He had a gross body, a pink and featureless face, and the habit of generally being right. She disliked him intensely—the more so since it occurred to her that there was an air about doctors, Jewish or Gentile, that Mr. Flynn certainly did not possess.

‘ Why should he not be? ’ asked a small dark chess-player, coming to the rescue. ‘He is an intellectual. I do not understand all he says, but he is an intellectual.’

‘Everyone you like you call an intellectual,’ said the fat man, nodding his head up and down with the air of one for whom human nature had no secrets.

‘At any rate he has no prejudice,’ Berta said.

‘But why does he come here?’ insisted the suspicious one. ‘Why does he try to make us drunk? Why does he listen to us —tell me that! Perhaps he is paid to listen to us.’

‘And perhaps he likes us,’ answered Berta impatiently. ‘Is it so very extraordinary?’

She was fascinated by Danno’s shimmer of charm, drunk or sober; it was a light-hearted quality uncommon among her own people or indeed among any city dwellers. And it rested and healed her to he with him, a man who had never felt any prejudice against her race, never thought about it, never heard of it — or, if he had heard of it, then as a newspaper story of distant happenings in a very distant Europe. She was sure that he had not realized the two different religions in the immigrant saloon.

She was, however, uneasily aware that she knew nothing whatever about the man. His exuberance puzzled her and prevented intimacy. She longed for her father to come on deck; having spent a wise and simple life between the schools and the synagogue, he had a peculiar gift of seeing to the heart of any human being and could have summed up Danno Flynn for her. But Mr. Feitel was still in his bunk, continually sick though the sea was calm, and Berta had no wisdom to fall back on but the experience of her own agitated youth.

When one evening Danno turned up in a boiled shirt and a dinner jacket, a hush descended upon the saloon. The peasants shuffled their preposterous boots, stared, and breathed very loudly. Such raiment was connected in their minds with the President of the Republic or a marriage or the excitement of a traveling salesman; they expected Mr. Flynn to unfurl a banner and pull a diamond ring or a bottle of medicine out of his pocket. Israel in exodus questioned its trust in him, questioned his motives. He was rich. He had no good right to be there.

The silence impressed even Danno. He was, for about the third time in his life, self-conscious. He had dressed himself up for a gala dinner in the firstclass and saw no reason for changing merely because he craved a beer. He met Berta’s ironical eyes, and flushed. It occurred to him that he had been guilty of wanting to be admired, that he could, after all, have drunk whiskey in his own smoking room.

‘But why would I not be showing meself to the darling,’ argued Danno loudly to himself, ‘seeing she could know me for a hundred years and never see me in the like of these clothes again?’

He drank a beer with the steward and departed hastily, wishing the saloon a noisy good-night.

Meanwhile Berta had silently vanished into the night. She was hurt by his impudence in appearing amongst them with this bold admission that he belonged to another world. The suspicions which she had ridiculed haunted her. Paid to be here — was it possible? She determined to find out what he was. This was the moment to ask questions when she was at her coldest and he off his guard; she knew instinctively that he desired admiration.

Danno emerged from the severe cubical deckhouse which contained the immigrants’ public rooms. The iron plates of the main deck and the tarpaulincovered hatches were flooded with moonlight. The Alhaurin, at this level a ship rather than a floating hotel, swished through the calm water while a band faintly sounded from somewhere in the towering terraces of the first-class and a light flashed on the horizon, reminding the traveler that even in the wastes of the Atlantic were the Azores.

Berta leaned over the rail, waiting. As the door of the saloon slammed, she turned and smiled invitingly at Danno.

‘How is your da?’ he asked.

‘Still sick. He cannot eat or get up.’

‘I’ll see him,’ said Danno.

‘It’s nothing,’ she answered swiftly. ‘It will pass. Stay here and talk to me.’

A strand of her black hair, fragrant in spite of the saloon and the peasants and the paintwork of a stuffy cabin below the waterline, blew gently against his face.

‘What land is that?’ she asked, pointing to the light.

‘T is Africa,’ he replied, ‘with Negro slaves, and they holding out a jewel to you that you shall pass no further on your journey to the west, but stop and be the bride of their great king.’

‘I would rather be where I am,’ said Berta dreamily.

Danno felt the wind cold against his unaccustomed shirt front as two drops of sweat shot down his chest from hair to hair like the balls on a pin table.

‘Then I would not be changing places with any king in the wide world,’ he said.

He laid his hand over hers. It did not return his pressure, but remained warm and unresisting while Abraham looked down approvingly — or so Berta hoped — upon his handmaiden.

‘You must know all the lands we pass so well,’ she suggested, hoping to find out whether he traveled regularly by the line.

’I was always a great reader,’ answered Danno cautiously, ‘and many’s the beating I had for it. If it was not my da had the hide off me for not attending to the sheep, ’t was Father Donnelly for not attending to my book.’

He told her a little of his boyhood in Connemara, of the green hills and white villages, of the glimpses of the Atlantic and the soft rain that drifted inland like smoke from the sea. As he talked, it seemed to her that her budding suspicion had been utterly foolish. She protested to herself that the curse of her race was to suspect, always to suspect.

‘So that is why you came here, down to the third-class!’ she cried with a warmth that surprised him. ’You have been poor. You like simple people — true people!’

‘And what more would I need to bring me here but the sight of your face?’ he answered.

‘But you did n’t know I was there. And sometimes — those first days — you did not speak to me.'

‘To be sure, I did not,’ he admitted penitently. ‘ But it was the sorrow of my heart at leaving Eire, and the thirst was on me would have floated the ship from under our feet. And, God help me, it was the barrel of beer that brought me to the third-class and no other thing at all.’

‘Have they no beer in the first-class?’ she asked.

‘Devil a drop!’

It could n’t be true. Dear God, he was lying to her! And he was n’t a doctor — that was now quite obvious, but she had overlooked it in her eagerness to trust him. They were right. He was paid to be there — some sort of immigration agent watching them, listening to them, making a filthy dossier for the police at their destinations. That wild exuberance of his was simple; it was as coarse an invitation to confidence as the overheartiness of a salesman.

‘You expect me to believe that? she cried. ‘That we — cattle — down here can get something that you cannot?’

Her face was drawn and her mobile mouth twitching with disgust. Danno Flynn stared at the explosive young woman, his features showing a sudden and comical consciousness of guilt.

‘You cannot harm us!’ she stormed.

‘ We are not afraid of you. Nothing can happen to us now, nothing any more. We — we snap our fingers!’

She burst into tears and ran from him. Even the beating of her feet upon the deck was angry.

'’T is the long voyage,’ said Danno,

‘and a young girl is a chancy thing and a vain. I should not have been telling her that I came for the beer.’

He climbed back to his own quarters and strolled into the smoking room in the certainty of finding the ship’s doctor. Part of the girl’s unaccountable moodiness was due, he thought, to worry about her father. Mr. Feitel ought to have been up and about long since, for the sea had been calm as a lake since they sailed from Lisbon.

Dr. Pulberry was in his usual chair and was, as usual, alone. His little red face and little white moustache were perched perkily upon the high butterfly collar of his mess uniform. His brusque and hearty manner did not gain for him all the free drinks that he felt to be his due; he accepted Mr. Flynn’s offer of a whiskey with gratitude, made a joke about an Irishman, and, finding it well received, became very communicative.

‘Yes, I’ve seen the old fellow,’ he said in answer to Danno’s questions. ‘I know those cases—have ’em every voyage! Nerves — funk — no stamina! Goes on being sick because it’s less effort than exercising a little will power!’

Dr. Pulberry, having retired from practice ten years since, considered that his job should be a sinecure. One patched up the crew. One discussed their ailments with the first-class passengers, especially the good-looking women. But one resented immigrants. At his age one resented them very strongly. If they did n’t have infectious diseases, they had diseases of malnutrition; and if they did n’t have those they were seasick.

‘Cannot ye give him a pill?’ asked Danno.

‘The usual sedatives. Of course! Certainly! But they don’t stop him. I ’ll try a better cure on him soon.’


On his visit to the immigrant saloon the next morning Danno discovered that communication had become very difficult. Those passengers who had spoken English to him were absorbed in chess or meditation or excited arguments — which ceased when he drew near. Those who did speak to him, all of them fairhaired, spoke in tongues so utterly incomprehensible that Danno shouted back to them in Irish. This amusement, however, palled under the contemptuous gaze of Berta’s large, clear eyes. She ignored his inquiries about her father by replying that he was better and instantly returning to her book.

Danno Flynn put a black curse upon the night that he had gone to the thirdclass in a dinner jacket, and passed two whole days moping in his own smoking room and hanging over the rail for a sight of Berta as she lay peacefully on the hatch of the main deck. Whether it was to emphasize the difference between herself and the shapeless bundles of peasant women or whether because she knew Danno would be looking, she made a habit of taking the sun for an hour a day in a yellow swimming suit. This delightful sight led Dr. Pulberry and other pillars of the bar to desert their usual chairs for chairs on the verandah.

‘Now I know why you went slumming! Pretty, eh?’ said the doctor, digging Danno in the ribs.

‘You should not be looking at her, Doctor,’ said Danno severely, ‘and her da dying on you.’

‘We’ll have him up this very afternoon,’ Dr. Pulberry answered, rubbing his hands. ‘Sedatives won’t do it, so we’ll use shock. Done it before! Always works! Come down with me about four o’clock and I’ll show you!’

‘Shock, is it?’ asked Danno gloomily. ‘If he’s a decent man, ’t would be enough for him to see his daughter parading herself the way an actress would not be doing in the moving pictures, and she paid a hundred pound a week for it.’

At four o’clock Danno accompanied the doctor into the maze of passageways below the third-class deck. They pushed past motionless peasant women, staring blankly at nothing, and cannoned off bands of Czech, Polish, and Rumanian children pointing fingers at each other round corners and shouting their international word — ‘Stikummup!'

Dr. Pulberry hammered smartly on a cabin door, and walked straight in. Mr. Feitel lay in a narrow lower berth, his shoulders imprisoned between the white rail of the bunk and the cheerless, boltstudded iron of the white bulkhead. His face was sunken and gray, and he was breathing deeply as if the tiny cabin contained all the air that he could ever reach. Berta sprang up from the opposite bunk and faced the doctor challengingly, the distrust and anxiety of her face changing, as soon as she saw Danno Flynn, to an expressionless mask in which her large eyes burned with anger.

‘Captain wants you at once!’ said Dr. Pulberry roughly to Mr. Feitel. ‘Up with you!’

Berta translated to her father, who struggled painfully and raised himself on one elbow.

‘What is it?’ she asked. ‘What have we done?’

‘No business of mine,’ said the doctor briskly. ‘You’re not allowed to land. Wireless from the Brazilian Government — and I expect you know why.’

Berta’s voice as she poured out the Yiddish translation to her father was like the cry of a whole people going up to heaven against injustice.

‘On deck in ten minutes!’ said the doctor, unmoved. ‘Come on, Flynn!’

He left the cabin brusquely. Danno remained behind watching the sick man, who sat up, swayed, and fell back again on to the pillow.

‘Whatever you want to let him alone,’ said Berta slowly, as if every syllable were a tense muscular act, ‘I will give you. Do you understand?’

‘I should not be mixing meself in this,’ murmured Danno thoughtfully, feeling Mr. Feitel’s pulse, ‘but if he goes on deck ’t will be the death of him.’

‘Leave him alone!’ Berta cried. ‘Don’t you believe me? I will come to you when you like.’

Danno glared at her, suddenly aware of her presence.

‘And are you not ashamed to be talking so with your da on his deathbed?’ he roared. ‘You will stand up now and do what I tell you. You will go to the cook and turn your rolling eyes on him and ask him for an ounce of sugar and a teaspoonful of baking powder.’

‘What do you mean? You ’re no doctor!’

‘I am in a manner of speaking, though ’t is sheep I treat the most of. ’


‘Sure, if you saw one stand on his hind legs,’ shouted Danno, exasperated by her tone, ‘you would know ’t is only human like the rest of us. Be off with you now!’

’I will not. He shall be on deck if I carry him on my back,’ she said. ’I know your sort. You only want a chance to say we were disobedient. Your sheep will go where they are told. They have learned that much.’

‘The devil is in the girl!’ said Danno. ‘Now will ye listen? The doctor is after telling you your da must see the captain. ’T is a lie — though, bejabers, the shock would have cured him if it were the seasickness he had! But ’t is not the sea — ’t is his stomach.’

‘What do you know?’ she asked contemptuously.

‘Am I not telling you I am a veterinary surgeon and the best sheep doctor in all Eire? And I know that if it were a sheep or a pig or a horse or a saint from heaven, and he seasick, he would be breathing fast and slow and jerky as if the soul of him were in torment, and not hungry for air and breathing deep, as is your da. ’T is what they call acidosis he has, and though ’t was the sea that started it, ’t is not the sea any longer nor the fear of the sea that turns his stomach.’

Berta stared at him, unable to take in all he said, unable as yet to escape from her fantastic vision of him, but aware that she was in the presence of kindliness and knowledge. Huge tears of relief spilled silently on to her cheeks.

‘Sure, if she has n’t murder in her eyes, ’t is crying they are! Will ye go to the cook now,’ he coaxed her, patting her hand, ‘and bring me a teaspoonful of baking powder and an ounce of sugar?’

Berta nodded, and vanished down the passage. Meanwhile Danno soothed, groomed, and massaged her father as if he had been a thoroughbred recovering from severe fright — which indeed he was. The old man thanked him in scraps of broken English and, when Berta returned with the remedy, took it trustfully and in absolute faith that it was going to stay down.

‘Now keep him quiet, and he’ll be better before night,’ said Danno. ‘I will tell the doctor ’t was the shock that did it, and he will be speaking of his cure from one end of the ship to the other, and that pleased with himself he will order special food for your da.’

‘But you’ll come and see him?’ asked Berta anxiously.

‘You will have him on deck under the awnings to-morrow afternoon, and I will see him then. And I will send you one of them canvas chairs for him,’ added Danno dryly, ‘so he shall not be sprawling on the hatches and the doctor and the proud English turning their opera glasses on him and jiggling their feet on the planks.’

By nightfall Mr. Feitel’s condition had shown a marked improvement. A breakfast of eggs was followed by a lunch of chicken — obtained through Danno’s outrageous flattery of the doctor — and at five o’clock he was sitting in a deckchair, watching the flying fishes in the strip of blue sky and blue water between the awning and the rail, and thankful for his return to so brilliant and curious a world.

A group of his compatriots gathered round him; they were oddly out of place in the South Atlantic, for they had no clothes but those in which they had left their cities, and they all wore cloth caps bought in the firm belief that a sea voyage demanded them. They seemed to have just stepped out of an office to visit a shop across the road.

‘All the same,’ said the chess-player, now determined to be a cynic, ‘he is here to watch us.’

‘To watch over us,’ Mr. Feitel corrected him dreamily. ‘To watch over us.’

‘He has nothing to do with immigration,’ added Berta indignantly.

’But what did he come here for?’ insisted the fat man. ‘Would you come down from the first-class for nothing? No! Would I? No! Would Berta? No! Why did he come here? Tell me that!’

He put his thumbs in the armholes of his vest, and walked two steps away and two steps back. For him, said his serious expression, there was logic, nothing but logic.

‘I do not know,’ Berta answered truthfully.

She was convinced, however, that she did know why he had returned again and again. She blushed. Mr. Feitel saw her embarrassment unmoved. He had long since resigned himself to the fact that, while his friends commiserated with him on his daughter’s thinness, she was devastatingly attractive to the Gentiles.

‘What is he?’ he asked.

‘He doctors animals,’ said Berta faintly.

‘Animals! Do animals have doctors? What kind of animals?’ exploded the fat man incredulously.

‘Sheep,’ answered Berta, waiting for the outburst of comment.

It came. When the hands had ceased to wave and the mouths to gabble, Mr. Feitel murmured: —

‘He doctors sheep? So gentle, so humble that even sheep he cares for? My daughter, the man should be a Jew.’

‘He is not,’ said Berta.

‘In the eyes of God he has a Jewish heart. Has any one of you seen hatred in him ? Has he ever shown that he knows a difference between Jew and Gentile?’

‘No,’ the fat man admitted. ‘But he is a fool.’

‘You have well said the man is a fool. To such God allows greatness, and from such shall come deliverance,’ said Mr. Feitel.


Danno Flynn appeared at the after end of the promenade deck. There was no immediate evidence of greatness in him, nor did he descend to them in a manner befitting the deliverer of Israel, for he slid down the rail of the ladder to the main deck; but he undeniably had an air, and he was not in the least put out by the eyes that, almost reverently, gazed at him.

‘Sure and I knew me old cock would be on deck!’ he exclaimed.

He seemed to slap Mr. Feitel on the back, but his patient felt the hand alight firmly, gently, giving strength.

The chess-player moved his lips, rehearsing a speech that he had just composed in his school English; he considered that there were still too many mysteries unsolved.

‘Pardon me, noble Mr. Doctor, will you have the kindness to tell me please whether it is your purpose to practise in Brazil?’

‘’T is not me purpose, ’t is the curse that is on me,’ answered Danno. ‘For, God help me, I am the biggest fool in Eire!’

Mr. Feitel smiled benignly and began to talk to himself in a soft singsong. Danno looked at him anxiously.

‘Now be off with you! ’ he said, waving his arms at the little group as if they had been an obstinate herd of sheep. ’And let you not be troubling his reverence with your foreign talk and him with no strength to listen to his own!’

Mr. Feitel’s friends hastily moved on. The deck had become for them a streei with a person in authority to prohibit loitering.

Berta laughed.

‘He is not light-headed,’ she said. ‘He is praying for you.’

‘’T is very civil,’Danno answered. ‘But he should be sleeping now.’

He stood behind the old gentleman’s chair and gently stroked the prominent veins of his temples. In two minutes Mr. Feitel was asleep.

‘Tell me,’ she asked, ‘do you know that we are Jews?’

‘Jews, is it?’ answered Danno with cordial surprise. ‘Then ’t is no great wonder they are saying the Irish are the thirteenth tribe. Or is it the twelfth? Be God, I am miscounting the tribes and holy apostles! All I know, ’t is the thirteenth that’s unlucky.’

‘What is the curse that is on you? Did something happen to you too to make you leave your country?’

There was no longer any tone of crossexamination in her voice; she asked with the trust of a child that she would be answered.

‘’T was like this, Biddy,’ replied Danno. ‘A little yellow man came to me house, and he telling me that he was spending a great fortune to raise sheep on the far mountains of Brazil, and begging me to work with him — for if the sheep did n’t die on him, ’t was only because the ewes were barren.

“‘I will not,” says I, “for what would I be doing in India?” “’T is not India,” he says, “’t is America.” “Then do you go to my uncle,” says I, “who is in Wyoming these thirty years and as good a man with the sheep as I am meself.” So he told me ’t was South America and pressed a thousand pound into me hand, but I would not take it.

“‘Will ye come so far as Dublin with me, Mr. Flynn?” he asks. “I will that,”

I said — for he was a friendly little yellow man and free with his money, God forgive him! And when we had drunk three parts of the whiskey in Dublin, he would have me come to London and drink French wines. And how many days we were in London I misremember, but I signed me name on a paper and when the drink passed from me I found meself in a first-class cabin on the raging ocean, with all the money in the world in me pocket and a two-year contract.'

‘But that is terrible! It’s criminal!’ she cried, all her pity for the exiled welling up.

‘It was surely!’ he laughed. ‘But ’t is no fool that I am after all, for would not a man be glad to leave his country for a sight of your sweet face?’

‘Then we’ll comfort each other, Daniel,’ she said frankly, linking her arm in his. ‘There is only a week more before we land, but it shall be a happy week for us.’

‘Let you not be talking so, Biddy!’ cried Danno, much shocked by the nearness of her and the openness of her speech. ‘Would I be telling you of your eyes and your hair and the shape of you like a young tree and it heavy with fruit? And would I be kissing you in dark places till I was drunk with the scent of you and the white skin that is of a queen surely, and would I let you go then, and you the world’s wonder and the love of my heart? I will not be parting from you and his reverence, I tell you. It’s a poor bargain I have to offer you, with no country of my own and no women to greet you in the street, saying, “There goes the beauty that is the wife of Danno Flynn.” But let you have patience for the two years, and you will not be lonely.’

‘I will not, surely,’ she answered, unconsciously falling into the lilt of his speech. ‘But if I do not go with you I shall be lonely to the end of my days, and the women crying for pity of me.'