—The bard's noserag. A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can't you?
He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly.
—God, he said quietly. Isn't the sea what Algy calls it: a grey sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oniopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks. I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look.
Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet. Leaning on it he looked down on the water and on the mailboat clearing the harbour mouth of Kingstown.
—Our might mother, Buck Mulligan said.
He turned abruptly his great searching eyes from the sea to Stephen's face.
—The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said. That's why she won't let me have anything to do with you.
—Someone killed her, Stephen said gloomily.
—You could have knelt down, damn it, Kinch, when your dying mother asked you, Buck Mulligan said. I'm hyperborean as much as you. But to think of your mother begging you with her last breath to kneel down and pray for her. And you refused. There is something sinister in you…
He broke off and lathered again lightly his farther cheek. A tolerant smile curled his lips.
—But a lovely mummer, he murmured to himself. Kinch, the loveliest mummer of them all.
He shaved evenly and with care, in silence, seriously.
Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown grave-clothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of the of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver in fits of loud groaning vomiting.
Buck Mulligan wiped again his razorblade.
—Ah , poor dogsbody, he said in a kind voice. I must give you a shirt and a few noserags. How are the secondhand breeks?
—They fit well enough, Stephen answered.
Buck Mulligan attacked the hollow beneath his underlip.
—The mockery of it, he said contentedly, secondleg they should be. God knows what poxy bowsy left them off. I have a lovely pair with a hair stripe, grey. You'll look spiffing in them. I'm not joking, Kinch. You look damned well when you're dressed.
—Thanks, Stephen said. I can't wear them if they are grey.
—He can't wear them, Buck Mulligan told his face in the mirror. Etiquette is etiquette. He kills his mother but he can't wear grey trousers.
He folded his razor neatly and with a stroking palps of fingers felt the smooth skin.
Stephen turned his gaze from the sea and to the plump face with its smokeblue mobile eyes.
—That fellow I was with in the Ship last night, said Buck Mulligan, says you have g.p.i. He's up in the Dottyville with Conolly Norman. General paralysis of the insane.
He swept the mirror a half circle in the air to flash the tidings abroad in the sunlight now radiant on the sea. His curling shaven lips laughed and the edges of white glittering teeth. Laughter seized all his strong wellknit trunk.
—Look at yourself, he said, you dreadful bard.
Stephen bent forward and peered at the mirror held out to him, cleft by a crooked crack, hair on end. As he and others see me. Who chose this face for me? This dogsbody to rid of vermin. It asks me too.
—I pinched out of the skivvy's room. Buck Mulligan said. It does her all right. The aunt always keeps plain-looking servants for Malachi. Lead him not into temptation. And her name is Ursula.
Laughing again, he brought the mirror away from Stephen's peering eyes.
—The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in the mirror, he said. If Wilde were only alive to see you.
Drawing back and pointing, Stephen said with bitterness:
—It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant.