Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of
lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown,
ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He
held the bowl aloft and intoned:
--_Introibo ad altare Dei_.
Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:
--Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about
and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the
awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent
towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat
and shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned
his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking
gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light
untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak.
Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and then covered the
--Back to barracks! he said sternly.
He added in a preacher's tone:
--For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine: body and soul
and blood and ouns. Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One
moment. A little trouble about those white corpuscles. Silence, all.
He peered sideways up and gave a long slow whistle of call, then paused
awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there
with gold points. Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered
through the calm.
--Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do nicely. Switch off
the current, will you?
He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering
about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and
sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages.
A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.
--The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!
He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to the parapet,
laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily
halfway and sat down on the edge of the gunrest, watching him still as
he propped his mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and
lathered cheeks and neck.
Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.
--My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a
Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself.
We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out
He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:
--Will he come? The jejune jesuit!
Ceasing, he began to shave with care.
--Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.
--Yes, my love?
--How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?
Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right shoulder.
--God, isn't he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous Saxon. He thinks
you're not a gentleman. God, these bloody English! Bursting with money
and indigestion. Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you
have the real Oxford manner. He can't make you out. O, my name for you
is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade.
He shaved warily over his chin.
--He was raving all night about a black panther, Stephen said. Where is
--A woful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?
--I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear. Out here in the dark
with a man I don't know raving and moaning to himself about shooting a
black panther. You saved men from drowning. I'm not a hero, however. If
he stays on here I am off.
Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down
from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets hastily.
--Scutter! he cried thickly.
He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into Stephen's upper
--Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.
Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a
dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly.
Then, gazing over the handkerchief, he said:
--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 oinopa
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 harbourmouth of
--Our mighty mother! Buck Mulligan said.
He turned abruptly his grey searching eyes from the sea to Stephen's
--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 graveclothes 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 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 by 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 damn well when you're dressed.