(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

James Bryden, an Irish immigrant suffering from blood poisoning, is advised by his doctor to take a long sea voyage to recover his health. He decides that he would like to see Ireland again, and the doctor agrees that a long visit to Bryden’s native Irish village of Duncannon will speed his convalescence.

Bryden enjoys his return home. The cozy village is so different from his life in the Bowery of New York City, where he has a job in a barroom. As he grows stronger, he begins to appreciate the slow, deliberate rhythms of village life. Absent are the hectic, demanding city routines; people are comfortable and relaxed, although most are poor and have few prospects for improving their lives. They say little about themselves and want to know all about the United States, having heard of the high wages a man can make, even if the hours of labor are long.

A soothing sense of home spurs Bryden’s recovery. He is welcomed by Mike Scully, one of the few villagers who has prospered, who provides Bryden with a place to live. In truth, all Bryden wants is to be left alone. Gaining strength, he finds that he is not interested in the villagers. Both their troubles and their curiosity about him leave him unmoved. At such times, he feels that he belongs back in the Bowery, even if it is a slum, but his returning health is enough to keep him rooted in Duncannon. He is in no hurry to return to the rigors of his Bowery existence.

Satisfying his...

(The entire section is 524 words.)