THE CROCK OF GOLD is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest novels in the Irish comic tradition. Fantasy, satire and delicious humour propel the magical narrative through a world peopled by policemen, philosophers, tinkers and leprechauns. Yet, the intent of it is all is serious. Or is it? Delve into this mystical fairytale world and rediscover a classic by a great author of the past.
The main characteristic of the breakfast room was one of severe simplicity. The carpet of green drappled brown, the curtains to match, and the furniture of oak, polished and dark. On the white cloth of the table an appetizing breakfast was set out in silver and china, and a vase of flowers showed that the little gentleman was not unmindful of the requirements of an artistic temperament. Even the Times, carefully cut and warmed, was neatly folded by the silver ringed napkin, and Dormer, standing stiff and lean by his master's chair, was calmly satisfied that no fault could be found with his work. For the past fifteen years, save on occasions of foreign travel, the same etiquette had been observed, the same actions performed, for, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, the habits of Tait were fixed and determined.
He was a pleasant creature of thirty-four years, small in stature, clean-shaven and brown-locked. His plump little body was clothed in a well-brushed smoking suit of maroon-colored cloth, his neat feet encased in slippers of red morocco, and he scanned the room through a gold-mounted pince nez. Neat and firm as he was, women did not care for him in the least, and he returned the compliment by heartily disliking the female sex. Yet with men he was a great favorite, and the members of his club liked to hear the sententious speeches of this little man, delivered with point and deliberation in the smoking room from eleven till midnight. When the clock struck twelve he invariably went to bed, and no persuasion or temptation could induce him to break this excellent rule.
Table Of Contents
The Crock of Gold
HERE ARE LADIES
The Insurrection in Dublin
IRISH FAIRY TALES
It was really a scratch party of nobodies, and they assembled as usual in the drawing-room on this especial evening, to play and not to work. Mrs. Taine laid aside her eternal knitting; Miss Bull dispensed with her game of "Patience;" Mr. Granger sang his one song of the early Victorian Epoch--sometimes twice when singers were scarce; and Mr. Harmer wore his antiquated dress-suit. On these festive occasions it was tacitly understood that all were to be more or less "dressy," as Mrs. Jersey put it, and her appearance in "the diamonds" signalized the need of unusual adornment. These jewels were the smallest and most inferior of stones; but diamonds they undeniably were, and the boarders alluded to them as they would have done to the Kohinoor.
In her black silk gown, her lace cap, and "the diamonds" Mrs. Jersey looked--so they assured her--quite the lady.
Was he a lady? No one ever asked that leading question, as it would have provoked an untruth or a most unpleasant reply. She admitted in expansive moments to having seen "better days," but what her actual past had been--and from her looks she had one--none ever discovered. The usual story, produced by an extra glass of negus, varied so greatly in the telling that the most innocent boarder doubted. But Mrs. Jersey was always treated with respect, and the boarders called her "Madame" in quite a French way. Why they should do so, no one ever knew, and Mrs. Jersey herself could not have explained. But the term had become traditional, and in that conservative mansion tradition was all-powerful.
Few friends presented themselves on this particular Friday evening, for it was extremely foggy, and none of them could afford cabs. Even those who patronized the nearest bus line, had some distance to walk before they knocked at the Jersey door, and thus ran a chance of losing their way. Either in light or darkness the house was hard to find, for it occupied the corner of a particularly private square far removed from the Oxford Street traffic. As a kind of haven or back-water, it received into its peace those who found the current of the River of Life running too strong. Decayed ladies, disappointed spinsters, superannuated clerks, retired army officers, bankrupt dreamers--these were the derelicts which had drifted hither. Mrs. Jersey called these social and commercial failures "paying guests," which flattered their pride and cost nothing. She was something of a humbug, and always ready with the small change of politeness.