A Little Cloud
EIGHT years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and wished him
godspeed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once by his travelled air, his well-
cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few fellows had talents like his and fewer still could
remain unspoiled by such success. Gallaher's heart was in the right place and he had
deserved to win. It was something to have a friend like that.
Little Chandler's thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting with Gallaher,
of Gallaher's invitation and of the great city London where Gallaher lived. He was called
Little Chandler because, though he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave
one the idea of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame was
fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took the greatest care of
his fair silken hair and moustache and used perfume discreetly on his handkerchief. The
half-moons of his nails were perfect and when he smiled you caught a glimpse of a row
of childish white teeth.
As he sat at his desk in the King's Inns he thought what changes those eight years had
brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby and necessitous guise had
become a brilliant figure on the London Press. He turned often from his tiresome writing
to gaze out of the office window. The glow of a late autumn sunset covered the grass
plots and walks. It cast a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit
old men who drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all the moving figures-- on the
children who ran screaming along the gravel paths and on everyone who passed
through the gardens. He watched the scene and thought of life; and (as always
happened when he thought of life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took
possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the
burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had bought them in
his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in the little room off the hall, he had
been tempted to take one down from the bookshelf and read out something to his wife.
But shyness had always held him back; and so the books had remained on their
shelves. At times he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.
When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk and of his fellow-
clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the feudal arch of the King's Inns, a neat
modest figure, and walked swiftly down Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning
and the air had grown sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood
or ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or squatted like
mice upon the thresholds. Little Chandler gave them no thought. He picked his way
deftly through all that minute vermin-like life and under the shadow of the gaunt spectral
mansions in which the old nobility of Dublin had roystered. No memory of the past
touched him, for his mind was full of a present joy.