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- John Bull's Other Island - 3/25 -


strongest possible hint to Haffigan that he is unwelcome] Will you soon be disengaged?

TIM [his brogue decaying into a common would-be genteel accent with an unexpected strain of Glasgow in it]. I must be going. Ivnmportnt engeegement in the west end.

BROADBENT [rising]. It's settled, then, that you come with me.

TIM. Ish'll be verra pleased to accompany ye, sir.

BROADBENT. But how soon? Can you start tonight--from Paddington? We go by Milford Haven.

TIM [hesitating]. Well--I'm afreed--I [Doyle goes abruptly into the bedroom, slamming the door and shattering the last remnant of Tim's nerve. The poor wretch saves himself from bursting into tears by plunging again into his role of daredevil Irishman. He rushes to Broadbent; plucks at his sleeve with trembling fingers; and pours forth his entreaty with all the brogue be can muster, subduing his voice lest Doyle should hear and return]. Misther Broadbent: don't humiliate me before a fella counthryman. Look here: me cloes is up the spout. Gimme a fypounnote--I'll pay ya nex choosda whin me ship comes home--or you can stop it out o me month's sallery. I'll be on the platform at Paddnton punctial an ready. Gimme it quick, before he comes back. You won't mind me axin, will ye?

BROADBENT. Not at all. I was about to offer you an advance for travelling expenses. [He gives him a bank note].

TIM [pocketing it]. Thank you. I'll be there half an hour before the thrain starts. [Larry is heard at the bedroom door, returning]. Whisht: he's comin back. Goodbye an God bless ye. [He hurries out almost crying, the 5 pound note and all the drink it means to him being too much for his empty stomach and overstrained nerves].

DOYLE [returning]. Where the devil did you pick up that seedy swindler? What was he doing here? [He goes up to the table where the plans are, and makes a note on one of them, referring to his pocket book as be does so].

BROADBENT. There you go! Why are you so down on every Irishman you meet, especially if he's a bit shabby? poor devil! Surely a fellow-countryman may pass you the top of the morning without offence, even if his coat is a bit shiny at the seams.

DOYLE [contemptuously]. The top of the morning! Did he call you the broth of a boy? [He comes to the writing table].

BROADBENT [triumphantly]. Yes.

DOYLE. And wished you more power to your elbow?

BROADBENT. He did.

DOYLE. And that your shadow might never be less?

BROADBENT. Certainly.

DOYLE [taking up the depleted whisky bottle and shaking his head at it]. And he got about half a pint of whisky out of you.

BROADBENT. It did him no harm. He never turned a hair.

DOYLE. How much money did he borrow?

BROADBENT. It was not borrowing exactly. He showed a very honorable spirit about money. I believe he would share his last shilling with a friend.

DOYLE. No doubt he would share his friend's last shilling if his friend was fool enough to let him. How much did he touch you for?

BROADBENT. Oh, nothing. An advance on his salary--for travelling expenses.

DOYLE. Salary! In Heaven's name, what for?

BROADBENT. For being my Home Secretary, as he very wittily called it.

DOYLE. I don't see the joke.

BROADBENT. You can spoil any joke by being cold blooded about it. I saw it all right when he said it. It was something--something really very amusing--about the Home Secretary and the Irish Secretary. At all events, he's evidently the very man to take with me to Ireland to break the ice for me. He can gain the confidence of the people there, and make them friendly to me. Eh? [He seats himself on the office stool, and tilts it back so that the edge of the standing desk supports his back and prevents his toppling over].

DOYLE. A nice introduction, by George! Do you suppose the whole population of Ireland consists of drunken begging letter writers, or that even if it did, they would accept one another as references?

BROADBENT. Pooh! nonsense! He's only an Irishman. Besides, you don't seriously suppose that Haffigan can humbug me, do you?

DOYLE. No: he's too lazy to take the trouble. All he has to do is to sit there and drink your whisky while you humbug yourself. However, we needn't argue about Haffigan, for two reasons. First, with your money in his pocket he will never reach Paddington: there are too many public houses on the way. Second, he's not an Irishman at all.

BROADBENT. Not an Irishman! [He is so amazed by the statement that he straightens himself and brings the stool bolt upright].

DOYLE. Born in Glasgow. Never was in Ireland in his life. I know all about him.

BROADBENT. But he spoke--he behaved just like an Irishman.

DOYLE. Like an Irishman!! Is it possible that you don't know that all this top-o-the-morning and broth-of-a-boy and more-power-to- your-elbow business is as peculiar to England as the Albert Hall concerts of Irish music are? No Irishman ever talks like that in Ireland, or ever did, or ever will. But when a thoroughly worthless Irishman comes to England, and finds the whole place full of romantic duffers like you, who will let him loaf and drink and sponge and brag as long as he flatters your sense of moral superiority by playing the fool and degrading himself and his country, he soon learns the antics that take you in. He picks them up at the theatre or the music hall. Haffigan learnt the rudiments from his father, who came from my part of Ireland. I knew his uncles, Matt and Andy Haffigan of Rosscullen.

BROADBENT [still incredulous]. But his brogue!

DOYLE. His brogue! A fat lot you know about brogues! I've heard you call a Dublin accent that you could hang your hat on, a brogue. Heaven help you! you don't know the difference between Connemara and Rathmines. [With violent irritation] Oh, damn Tim Haffigan! Let's drop the subject: he's not worth wrangling about.

BROADBENT. What's wrong with you today, Larry? Why are you so bitter?

Doyle looks at him perplexedly; comes slowly to the writing table; and sits down at the end next the fireplace before replying.

DOYLE. Well: your letter completely upset me, for one thing.

BROADBENT. Why?

LARRY. Your foreclosing this Rosscullen mortgage and turning poor Nick Lestrange out of house and home has rather taken me aback; for I liked the old rascal when I was a boy and had the run of his park to play in. I was brought up on the property.

BROADBENT. But he wouldn't pay the interest. I had to foreclose on behalf of the Syndicate. So now I'm off to Rosscullen to look after the property myself. [He sits down at the writing table opposite Larry, and adds, casually, but with an anxious glance at his partner] You're coming with me, of course?

DOYLE [rising nervously and recommencing his restless movements]. That's it. That's what I dread. That's what has upset me.

BROADBENT. But don't you want to see your country again after 18 years absence? to see your people, to be in the old home again? To--

DOYLE [interrupting him very impatiently]. Yes, yes: I know all that as well as you do.

BROADBENT. Oh well, of course [with a shrug] if you take it in that way, I'm sorry.

DOYLE. Never you mind my temper: it's not meant for you, as you ought to know by this time. [He sits down again, a little ashamed of his petulance; reflects a moment bitterly; then bursts out] I have an instinct against going back to Ireland: an instinct so strong that I'd rather go with you to the South Pole than to Rosscullen.

BROADBENT. What! Here you are, belonging to a nation with the strongest patriotism! the most inveterate homing instinct in the world! and you pretend you'd rather go anywhere than back to Ireland. You don't suppose I believe you, do you? In your heart--

DOYLE. Never mind my heart: an Irishman's heart is nothing but his imagination. How many of all those millions that have left Ireland have ever come back or wanted to come back? But what's the use of talking to you? Three verses of twaddle about the Irish emigrant "sitting on the stile, Mary," or three hours of Irish patriotism in Bermondsey or the Scotland Division of Liverpool, go further with you than all the facts that stare you in the face. Why, man alive, look at me! You know the way I nag, and worry, and carp, and cavil, and disparage, and am never satisfied and never quiet, and try the patience of my best friends.

BROADBENT. Oh, come, Larry! do yourself justice. You're very


John Bull's Other Island - 3/25

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