“That night I lay behind a certain ditch. The moon shone on the nape of my neck. The good landlord passed me by on the road, he and his good wife, chattering and happy as a pair of lovers. I groped for the gun. The queerest feeling came over me. I did not even raise it. I had no nerve. I quaked behind the ditch. His footsteps and her footsteps were like cracks of this hammer on my head. I knew, then, in that minute, that I was no good, and that Gobstown was for ever lost.... What happened me? Who can say that for certain? Many a time have I wondered what came over me in that hour. I can only guess.... Nobody belonging to me had ever been rack-rented. I had never seen any of my own people evicted. No great judge of assize had ever looked down on me from his bench to the dock and addressed to me stern words. I had never heard the clang behind me of a prison door. No royal hand of an Irish constabularyman had ever brought a baton down on my head. No carbine had ever butted the soft places of my body. I had no scars that might redden with memories. The memories I had and that might give me courage were not memories of landlords. There was nothing of anger in my heart for the Gobstown landlord, and he went by. I dragged my legs out of the ditch and drowned my cousin’s gun in a boghole. After it I dropped in the handful of cartridges. They made a little gurgle in the dark water like blood in a shot man’s throat. And that same night I went home, put a few things in a red handkerchief, and stole out of Gobstown like a thief. I walked along the roads until I came to this town, learned my trade, became a respectable shoemaker, and—tell your mother I never use anything only the best leather. There are your boots, Padna, tips and all ... half-a-crown. Thanks, and well wear!”
The Rector came round the gable of the church. He walked down the sanded path that curved to the road. Half-way down he paused, meditated, then turning gazed at the building. It was square and solid, bulky against the background of the hills. The Rector hitched up his cuffs as he gazed at the structure. Critical puckers gathered in little lines across the preserved, peach-like cheeks. He put his small, nicely-shaped head to one side. There was a proprietorial, concerned air in his attitude. One knew that he was thinking of the repairs to the church, anxious about the gutters, the downpipe, the missing slates on the roof, the painting of the doors and windows. He struck an attitude as he pondered the problem of the cracks on the pebble-dashed walls. His umbrella grounded on the sand with decision. He leaned out a little on it with deliberation, his lips unconsciously shaping the words of the ultimatum he should deliver to the Select Vestry. His figure was slight, he looked old-world, almost funereal, something that had become detached, that was an outpost, half-forgotten, lonely; a man who had sunk into a parish where there was nothing to do. He mumbled a little to himself as he came down to the gate in the high wall that enclosed the church grounds.