She swallowed a
draught of tea
from her cup held by nothandle and,
having wiped her
fingertips smartly on the blanket, began to search the text
with the hairpin till she reached the word.
--Met him what? he asked.
--Here, she said. What does that mean?
He leaned downward and read near her polished thumbnail.
--Yes. Who's he when he's at home?
--Metempsychosis, he said, frowning. It's Greek:
from the Greek. That
means the transmigration
--O, rocks! she said. Tell us in plain words.
He smiled, glancing askance at her mocking
eyes. The same young
eyes. The first night after the charades.
Dolphin's Barn. He turned over the
smudged pages. Ruby:
the Pride of the Ring. Hello. Illustration. Fierce
Italian with carriagewhip. Must be Ruby pride of the on the floor naked.
Sheet kindly lent. The monster Maffei desisted and flung his victim from him
with an oath. Cruelty behind it all. Doped animals. Trapeze
Had to look the other way. Mob gaping. Break your neck and we'll break
our sides. Families of them. Bone them young so they metamspychosis.
That we live after death. Our souls. That a man's soul after he dies,
--Did you finish it? he asked.
--Yes, she said. There's nothing smutty in it. Is she in love with the first
fellow all the time?
--Never read it. Do you want another?
--Yes. Get another of Paul de Kock's. Nice name he has.
She poured more tea into her cup, watching it flow sideways.
Must get that Capel street library book renewed or they'll write to
Kearney, my guarantor. Reincarnation: that's the word.
--Some people believe, he said, that we go on living in another body after
death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived
before on the earth thousands of years ago or some other planet. They say
we have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives.
The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea. Better
remind her of the word: metempsychosis. An example would be better. An
The Bath of the Nymph over the bed. Given away with the Easter
number of Photo Bits : splendid masterpiece in art colours. Tea before you
put milk in. Not unlike her with her hair down: slimmer. Three and six I
gave for the frame. She said it would look nice over the bed. Naked
nymphs: Greece: and for instance all the people that lived then.
He turned the pages back.
--Metempsychosis, he said, is what the ancient Greeks called it. They used
to believe you could be changed into an animal or a tree, for instance. What
they called nymphs, for example.
Her spoon ceased to stir up the sugar. She gazed straight before her,
inhaling through her arched nostrils.
--There's a smell of burn, she said. Did you leave anything on the fire?
--The kidney! he cried suddenly.
He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket and, stubbing his toes
against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping
hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork's legs. Pungent smoke shot up
in an angry jet from a side of the pan. By prodding a prong of the fork
under the kidney he detached it and turned it turtle on its back. Only a little
burnt. He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy
trickle over it.
Cup of tea now. He sat down, cut and buttered a slice of the loaf. He
shore away the burnt flesh and flung it to the cat. Then he put a forkful into
his mouth, chewing with discernment the toothsome pliant meat. Done to a
turn. A mouthful of tea. Then he cut away dies of bread, sopped one in the
gravy and put it in his mouth. What was that about some young student
and a picnic? He creased out the letter at his side, reading it slowly as he
chewed, sopping another die of bread in the gravy and raising it to his