`Of all the good ones ever I heard,' he said, `that emphatically takes the biscuit.'

Corley's stride acknowledged the compliment. The swing of his burly body made his friend execute a few light skips from the path to the roadway and back again. Corley was the son of an inspector of police, and he had inherited his father's frame and gait.' He walked with his hands by his sides, holding himself erect and swaying his head from side to side. His head was large, globular, and oily; it sweated in all weathers; and his large round hat, set upon it sideways, looked like a bulb which had grown out of another. He always stared straight before him as if he were on parade, and when he wished to gaze after someone in the street, it was necessary for him to move his body from the hips. At present he was about town. Whenever any job was vacant a friend was always ready to give him the hard word. He was often to be seen walking with policemen in plain clothes, talking earnestly. He knew the inner side of all affairs and was fond of delivering final judgements. He spoke without listening to the speech of his companions. His conversation was mainly about himself: what he had said to such a person and what such a person had said to him, and what he had said to settle the matter. When he reported these dialogues he aspirated the first letter of his name after the manner of Florentines.

Lenehan offered his friend a cigarette. As the two young men walked on through the crowd Corley occasionally turned to smile at some of the passing girls, but Lenehan's gaze was fixed on the large faint moon circled with a double halo. He watched earnestly the passing of the grey web of twilight across its face. At length he said:

`Well... tell me, Corley, I suppose you'll be able to pull it off all right, eh?'

Corley closed one eye expressively as an answer.

`Is she game for that?' asked Lenehan dubiously. `You can never know women.'

`She's all right,' said Corley. `I know the way to get around her, man. She's a bit gone on me.'

`You're what I call a gay Lothario,' said Lenehan. `And the proper kind of a Lothario, too!'

A shade of mockery relieved the servility of his manner. To save himself he had the habit of leaving his flattery open to the interpretation of raillery. But Corley had not a subtle mind.

`There's nothing to touch a good slavey,' he affirmed. `Take my tip for it.'

`By one who has tried them all,' said Lenehan.

`First I used to go with girls, you know,' said Corley, unbosoming; `girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the tram somewhere and pay the tram, or take them to a band or a play at the theatre, or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that way. I used to spend money on them right enough,' he added, in a convincing tone, as if he was conscious of being disbelieved.

But Lenehan could well believe it; he nodded gravely.

`I know that game,' he said, `and it's a mug's game.'

`And damn the thing I ever got out of it,' said Corley.

`Ditto here,' said Lenehan.

`Only off of one of them,' said Corley.

He moistened his upper lip by running his tongue along it. The recollection brightened his eyes. He, too, gazed at the pale disc of the moon, now nearly veiled, and seemed to meditate.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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