Mrs. Delaney Quotes in The Drunkard
Between business acquaintances and clerical contacts, there was very little [Mr. Dooley] didn’t know about what went on in town, and evening after evening he crossed the road to our gate to explain to Father the news behind the news. He had a low, palavering voice and a knowing smile, and Father would listen in astonishment, giving him a conversational lead now and again, and then stump triumphantly in to Mother with his face aglow and ask: “Do you know what Mr. Dooley is after telling me?”
Drink, you see, was Father’s great weakness. He could keep steady for months, even for years, at a stretch, and while he did he was as good as gold. […] He laughed at the folly of men who, week in week out, left their hard-earned money with the publicans; and sometimes, to pass an idle hour, he took pencil and paper and calculated precisely how much he saved each week through being a teetotaller. […] Sooner or later, [his] spiritual pride grew till it called for some form of celebration. Then he took a drink […]. That was the end of Father. […] Next day he stayed in from work with a sick head while Mother went off to make his excuses at the works, and inside a forthnight he was poor and savage and despondent again. Once he began he drank steadily through everything down to the kitchen clock. Mother and I knew all the phases and dreaded all the dangers.
I knew Father was quite capable of lingering [at the pub] till nightfall. I knew I might have to bring him home, blind drunk, down Blarney Lane, with all the old women at their doors, saying: “Mick Delaney is on it again.” I knew that my mother would be half crazy with anxiety; that next day Father wouldn’t go out to work; and before the end of the week she would be running down to the pawn with the clock under her shawl.
“But I gave him no drink,” he shouted, aghast at the horrifying interpretation the neighbours had chosen to give his misfortune. “He took it while my back was turned. What the hell do you think I am?” “Ah,” she replied bitterly, “everyone knows what you are now. God forgive you, wasting our hard-earned few ha’pence on drink, and bringing up your child to be a drunken corner-boy like yourself.”