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A Very Fine Quality
"I won't beat about the bush. I'm talking of the job as principal of the school here. It's a very fine position for a young man. You'd be among your own people. If you decide to marry and settle down, I'm in a position to put other advantages your way."
This whole proposition was amazing. Master Leddy was the principal of the school. He had been principal as long as I remembered. He had taught me, and manv before me. I had visited him just three days before. His wife had let me in. "Is that young Moran?" Master Leddy called down. He must have recognized my voice.
"Make him a good cup of tea." Then he came heavily down the stairs in his stockinged feet. "You couldn't have come in a better time. We'll be able to walk up the road together." Physically, he had deteriorated since I'd last seen him — his face was puffy, the white hair thinned, and there was a bruise on one cheekbone, where he must have fallen. "It's a very nice thing to see old pupils coming back. Though not many of them bring me honour as you do, it's still a very nice thing when they come to see me. Loyalty is a fine quality. A very fine quality."
He spoke the whole of the slow walk to the village. I walked at a snail's pace by his side, embarrassed, ashamed, confused. I had once looked up to him in pure admiration. He had shone like a clear star. I had been in love with what he stood for. It seemed horrible that he had come to this.
"I always refer to you as my best pupil," he said. "When the whole business seems to be completely hopeless, I always point to you, Moran: that's one good job I did. Let the fools talk."
Outside the door of Ryan's Bar he took quick leave of me. "I won't invite you inside," he said. "I say to all my pupils: Stay away from drink. I am a poor example myself, but I want to bring no one with me. God bless and guard you, Moran. Come and see me again before you head back to the city." With that he left me.
What Reegan was saying was shocking. I knew that politicians had nothing to do with the appointment of teachers. It was the priest who ran the school. But I knew Reegan's reputation and was wary. "You must be joking," I said from the boat, "Isn't Master Leddy the principal?"
"He is now, but he won't be for long — not if I have anything to do with it. If you can give me your word that you'll take the job, I can promise you that the job is as good as yours."
(to be continued) 421
Ex. 708. A. Read the story Give a complex analysis of all the grammatical phenomena.
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