the fishgods of Dundrum. Printed by the weird sisters in the year of the big wind.
He turned to Stephen and asked in a fine puzzled voice, lifting his brows:
—Can you recall, brother, is mother Grogan's tea and water pot spoken of in the Mabinogion or is it in the Upanishads?
—I doubt it, said Stephen gravely.
—Do you now? Buck Mulligan said in the sane tone. Your reasons, pray?
—I fancy, Stephen said as he ate, it did not exist in or out of the Mabinogion. Mother Grogan was, one imagines, a kinswoman of Mary Ann.
Buck Mulligan's face smiled with delight.
—Charming, he said in a finical sweet voice, showing his white teeth and blinking his eyes pleasantly. Do you think she was? Quite charming.
Then, suddenly overclouding all his features, he growled in a hoarsened rasping voice as he hewed again vigorously at the loaf:
—For old Mary Ann
She doesn't care a damn,
But, hissing up her petticoats…
He crammed his mouth with fry and munched and droned.
The doorway was darkened by an entering form.
—The milk, sir.
—Come in, ma'am, Mulligan said. Kinch, get the jug.
An old woman came forward and stood by Stephen's elbow.
—That's a lovely morning, sir, she said. Glory be to God.
—To whom? Mulligan said, glancing at her. Ah, to be sure.
Stephen reached back and took the milkjug from the locker.
—The islanders, Mulligan said to Haines casually, speak frequently of the collector of prepuces.
—How much, sir? asked the old woman.
—A quart, Stephen said.
He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk, not hers. Old shrunken paps. She poured again a measureful and a tilly. Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger. She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out. Crouching by a patient cow at daybreak in the lush field, a witch on her toadstool, her wrinkled fingers quick at the squirting dugs. They lowed about her whom they knew, dewsilky cattle. Silk of the kine and poor old woman, names given her in old times. A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning. To serve or to upbraid, whether he could not tell: but scorned to beg her favor.
—It is indeed, ma'am, Buck Mulligan said, pouring milk into their cups.
—Taste it, sir, she said.
He drank at her bidding.
—If we could only like on good food like that, he said to her somewhat loudly, we wouldn't have the country full of rotten teeth and rotten guts. Living in a bogswamp, eating cheap food and the streets paved with dust, horsedung and consumptives' spits.
—Are you a medical student, sir? the old woman asked.
I am, ma'am, Buck Mulligan answered.
Stephen listened in scornful silence. She bows her old head to a voice that speaks to her loudly, her bonesetter, her medicineman; me she slights. To the voice that will shrive and oil for the grave there is of her but her woman's unclean loins, of man's flesh made not in God's likeness, the serpant's prey. And to the loud voice that now bids her be silent with wondering unsteady eyes.
—Do you understand what he says? Stephen asked her.
—Is it French you are talking, sir? the old woman said to Haines.
Haines spoke to her again in a longer speech, confidently.
—Irish, Buck Mulligan said. Is there Gaelic on you?
—I thought it was Irish, she said, by the sound of it. Are you from the west, sir?
—I'm an Englishman, Haines answered.
—He's English, Buck Mulligan said, and he thinks we ought to speak Irish in Ireland.
—Sure we ought to, the old woman said, and I'm ashamed I don't speak the language myself. I'm told i's a grand language by them that knows.
—Grand is no name for it, said Buck Mulligan. Wonderful entirely. Fill us out some more tea, Kinch. Would you like a cup, ma'am?