Hill, reminiscing about her childhood days, looks out the window of her
father’s Dublin home. She and siblings used to play in a field nearby with
neighborhood children from the Devine, Waters, and Dunn families.
has changed. Her mother, brother Ernest, and Tizzie Dunn are dead. The rest of
the Hill children are young adults. Houses now occupy the field where the
children played. The Waters family has moved back to England. The Smith home has
not changed. The old photo of a priest, who had been friends at school, still
hangs above the harmonium. Her father shows the photo to visitors, stating, “He
is in Melbourne now.”
is about to leave her childhood home and her job at a retail store, where Miss
Gavin always orders her around.
her new home in a far-off land, she will be a married woman who is treated with
respect. Her father will not be there to threaten her or treat her the way he
did her mother. He used to not treat her as badly as he treated Ernest and
Harry. Lately, though, he has been threatening her. Harry usually spends a lot
of time out in the country on his church-decorating business.
Saturday-night arguments they have are over money. She gives all of her pay,
and Harry gives what he can to their father. But getting money back from him is
trial. After a time, he yields. But he expects her to buy Sunday dinner.
addition to her job, she keeps the hose and cares for the children in the
spite of her tough life, she has hesitations about going to Buenos Aires,
Argentina, with. Frank is kind, Eveline believes. After they met, he nicknamed
her Poppens and accompanied her home from work. He took her to see The Bohemian
Girl, an opera about a young woman abducted by the leader of a gypsy band.
Frank would also tell her stories about all the lands he visited serving aboard
ships of the Allen Line. When her father found out about the courtship, he
forbade her from seeing Frank again. Then she had to meet Frank in secret.
her lap are two letters, one to Harry and one to her father. She remembers that
there were times when her father was good company. Only recently, when she was
“laid up” in bed, he read to her and made her toast. Years before,
when the family had gone on a picnic, he wore his wife’s bonnet to make
looking out the window, Eveline hears the song of an Italian organ grinder
coming from down the street, the same song he played on the night her mother
died. The song reminds Eveline of the promise she made to her mother to keep
the family together as long as possible. But she believes she has a right to
escape with Frank, a right to be happy.
is time to leave. Eveline is with Frank, who is holding her hand. Soldiers are
all around with brown bags. The ship calls for passengers with a whistle.
Eveline asks God for guidance. Should she go aboard with Frank or turn back?
Frank proceeds, he calls back to her. But Eveline “set her white face to
him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or
farewell or recognition.”