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"He needs a name," one of the women called out. "You have to give him a name, Joe."
Corrigan looked around him. "Ah, what else is he but a Mick, of course? We'll call him Mick."
Mick moved over and stared down approvingly at his namesake. "He looks happy enough to be a
Mick," he agreed.
One of the men across the table started to sing, "When Irish eyes are smiling . . ." He looked at Corrigan
and raised a hand invitingly for him to take it from there.
Corrigan couldn't. He was too exhausted, and the drink was hitting him the wrong way . . . and besides,
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he didn't remember the words. Then Marvin Minsky's line came to him, from the day when Corrigan and
Evelyn had visited Boston. Grinning faces on every side waited for him to continue the song. He tossed
up a hand, acknowledging defeat, and grinned.
"You've probably just been ripped off. . . ."
Chapter Twenty-one
Corrigan sometimes said that Europeans had exported Puritanism and the work ethic to America in
order to be rid of both, and then get back to the business of enjoying life. The Christmas week that
followed became one long round of eating, drinking, dancing, and more drinking, that persisted through
into the New Year. By custom, annual holidays east of the Atlantic tended to be generous, and most
people saved a healthy portion of them for the year's end. It seemed that nobody was at work who didn't
have to be, and Evelyn lost track of the homes that were visited, and the pubs and hotel lounges sampled
in the annual tribal loyalty-reaffirmation rites. Like many visitors to Ireland, she had a feeling of
rediscovering the basics of simple warmth and spontaneous familiarity that can be too easily forgotten
when pursuit of wealth and what passes for success becomes obsessive. Even allowing that she was
being a bit romantic and impractical for the modern world, she suspended her disbelief willingly and
delighted in fond reconstructions of bygone times, doubtless illusory, sparkling with wisdom and elegance
that had probably never existed; but, after all, wasn't this supposed to be the most romantic time of her
life?
What marred it a little was Corrigan saying scoffingly that she sounded like a tourist. For him this was
just a break. He was becoming impatient to get back to the arena. Americans, it was often
said especially those with Irish roots that were imaginary could be more Irish than the Irish. It was
sometimes true the other way around, too. Mick was not a lot of help in sustaining her romantic images of
unsullied Irish charm and simplicity, either.
One evening in one of the seafront hotels, the customers sitting around the lounge began taking it in turns
to sing solo. Every one of them seemed to have a party piece, which the rest would listen to
appreciatively and applaud loudly a far cry from dingy downtown bars where people went to get
drunk, laid, or lost in anonymity. At one point, Evelyn felt her eyes misting as she listened to a wistful,
soaring tenor voice evoking visions of homey farm cottages and green hillsides swept with rain.
"Can everyone over here sing?" she whispered, leaning across to Corrigan and Mick.
"Ah, it's the drink that does it. He'll be croaking like a rusty gate by morning," Mick told her, ruining the
whole effect.
"Most of those songs were written by people who'd been away from Ireland so long that they forgot
what it was like," Corrigan said.
"Or never been there, more like," Mick agreed.
"Six months over here, and you'd be writing the same about Pittsburgh," Corrigan told Evelyn.
They did visit Trinity College, finally, with its stiffly aristocratic frontages of gray, columned stone, staring
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down over an inner maze of interlocking lawns and cobbled courts. Evelyn was fascinated by the famous
Long Room chamber of the Old Library, built in 1724, with its wood paneling, carvings, and gallery,
containing hundreds of thousands of volumes going back to medieval times and before. Jonathan Swift,
Oliver Goldsmith, George Berkeley, and Oscar Wilde had been students here, and again, walking among
the ceiling-high shelves of cracked leather bindings and yellowing folios, Evelyn found herself reliving
images of a time of tastes and sensitivities that had passed even with the brash intrusion of a gaudily
modern gift-and-souvenir shop, underneath on the ground floor.
They shopped in O'Connell Street, had lunch in the open, airy environment with the sun actually putting
in an appearance that day, reassuring the faithful of its existence of the glass-enclosed mall by Stephen's [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]