(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

The first time Dermot remembered coming into an Irish port he was so young that he had to keep reminding himself to look for his Granny. He, his younger sister Eithne, and his mother came to Dublin each year to spend the summer at Granny’s house. Dermot remembered only that there had been a monkey and a cat there the summer before.

After the trip by boat across the Irish Sea, they rode in a carriage, a train, and then a tram before they reached Sandycove, where Grandpapa was leaning over the gate waiting to meet them. To Dermot and his mother, the cottage at Sandycove was really home, a place they loved as they could never love their home in England.

Besides such delights as Paddy-monkey and Pucker the cat, Dermot was glad to see once more the comfortable dining room with its loaded table. He loved the china, the little bone spoon with which he ate his egg, the different foods, and the corner where Grandpapa kept the well-worn books he taught Dermot to read.

Granny’s garden was all mixed up in his mind with the Garden of Eden. That summer he spent most of his time there, playing with Paddy-monkey who was chained near the kitchen door, hunting for snails among the plants, investigating the farther reaches of the orchard that he had not known when he was smaller, and helping the gardener chase the half-wild cats that tore down the bushes.

There were two things he did not like about Sandycove. One was the walk far out on the pier in wild weather, while the nurse wheeled Eithne. The other was to be surrounded by Granny’s gushing friends before and after church. He felt closer to his Grandpapa when the old gentleman stubbornly refused to stand in front of the church with the women but waited instead in a park across the way.

Often on Sunday afternoons, Dermot’s cousins from Dalkey came to visit, sometimes accompanied by Uncle Ben, a boisterous retired mariner who was also, Dermot discovered, a strict puritan. Two of Uncle Ben’s four children came often: Con, a strapping lad of twenty-one years, and Eileen, a lovely girl a few years younger. They were tremendously alive. Dermot, who had always been considered delicate, was exuberant when he was with his cousins.

The McManuses lived at Delgany on a cliff running down to the sea. Their house was full of all kinds of wonders, such as a telescope, the dried jaws of a whale, a painted wooden pig, and a bathroom with no taps. Ben and his family lived a carefree life that left Dermot breathless; it was so unlike the precise life he lived in England. Uncle Ben could answer Dermot’s questions in more exact detail than anyone else, excepting perhaps Grandpapa; and even Grandpapa was likely to go on after the interesting part had been answered.

That year Uncle Ben, Con, and Eileen took Dermot in a boat to an island out from their home. There, while they were having a picnic, they looked up to see a ring of goats ranged...

(The entire section is 1204 words.)