—We thought you were someone else.
In his broad bed nuncle Richie, pillowed and blanketed, extends over the hillock of his knees a sturdy forearm. Cleanchested. He washed the upper moiety,
He lays aside the lapboard whereon he drafts his bills of costs for the eyes of the Master Goff and Master Shapland Tandy, filing consents and common searches and a writ of Duces Tecum. A bogoak frame over his bald head: Wilde's Requiescat. The drone of his misleading whistle brings Walter back.
—Malt for Richie and Stephen, tell mother. Where is she?
—Bathing Crissie, sir.
Papa's little bedpal. Lump of love.
—No, uncle Richie…
—Call me Richie. Damn you lithia water. It lowers. Whusky!
—Uncle Richie, really…
—Sit down or by the law Harry I'll knock you down.
Walter squints vainly for a chair.
—He has nothing to sit down on, sir.
—He has noweher to put it, you mug. Bring in our Chippendale chair. Would you like a bit of something? None of your damned lawdeedaw air here; the rich of the rasher fried with a herring? Sure? So much the better. We have nothing in the house but backache pills.
He drones bars of Ferrando's aria de sortita. The grandest number, Stephen, in the whole opera. Listen.
His tuneful whistle sounds again, finely shaded, with rushes of the air, his fists bigdrumming on his padded knees.
This wind is sweeter.
Houses of decay, mine, his and all. You told Clongowes gentry you had an uncle a judge and an uncle a general in the army. Come out of them, Stephen. Beauty is not there. Nor in the stagnant bay of Marsh's library where you read the fading prophecies of Joachim Abbas. For whom? The hundredheaded rabble of the cathedral close. A hater of his kind ran from them to the wood of madness, his mane foaming in the moon, his eyeballs stars. Houyhnhnm, horsenostrilled. The oval equine faces. Temple, Buck Mulligan, Foxy Campbell. Lantern jaws. Abbas father, furious dean, what offence laid fire to their brains? Paff! Descende, calve, ut ne nimium decalveris. A garland of grey hair on his cominated head see him me clambering down to the footpace (descende), clutching a monstance, basiliskeyed. Get down, bald poll! A choir gives back menace and echo, assisting about the altar's horns, the snorted Latin of jackpriests moving burly in the albs, tonsured and oiled and gelded, fat with the fat of the kidneys of wheat.
And at the same instant perhaps a priest round the corner is elevating it. Dringdring! And two streets off another locking it into a pyx. Dringdring! And in a ladychapel another taking housel all to his own cheek. Dringdring! Down, up, forward, back. Dan Occam thought of that, invincible doctor. A misty English morning the imp hypostasis tickled his brain. Bringing his host down and kneeling he heard twine with his second heard (now I am lifting) their two bells (he is kneeling) twang in diphthong.
Cousin Stephen, you will never be a saint. Isle of saints. You were awfully holy, weren't you? I prayed to the Blessed Virgin that you might not have a red nose. You prayed to the devil in Serpentine avenue that the fubsy widow in front might lift her clothes still more from the wet street. O si, certo! Sell your soul for that, do, dyed rags pinned round a squaw. More teel me, more still! On top of the Howth tram alone crying to the rain: naked women! What about that, eh?
What about what? What else were they invented for?
Reading two pages apiece of seven books every night, eh? I was young. You bowed to yourself in the mirror, stepping forward to applause earnestly, striking face. Hurray for the Goddamned idiot! Hray! No-one saw: tell no-one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W. Remember your epiphanies on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria? Someone was to read them there after a few thousand years, a mahamanvantara. Pico della Mirandola like. Ay, very like a whale. When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one geels that one is at one with one who once…
The grainy sand had gone from under his feet. His boots trod again on damp crackling mast, razorshells, squeaking peb-