Cranly smiled and said kindly:
— The captain has only one love: sir Walter Scott. Isn't that so, captain?
— What are you reading now, captain? Dixon asked. THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR?
— I love old Scott, the flexible lips said, I think he writes something lovely. There is no writer can touch sir Walter Scott.
He moved a thin shrunken brown hand gently in the air in time to his praise and his thin quick eyelids beat often over his sad eyes.
Sadder to Stephen's ear was his speech: a genteel accent, low and moist, marred by errors, and, listening to it, he wondered was the story true and was the thin blood that flowed in his shrunken frame noble and come of an incestuous love?
The park trees were heavy with rain; and rain fell still and ever in the lake, lying grey like a shield. A game of swans flew there and the water and the shore beneath were fouled with their green-white slime. They embraced softly, impelled by the grey rainy light, the wet silent trees, the shield-like witnessing lake, the swans. They embraced without joy or passion, his arm about his sister's neck. A grey woollen cloak was wrapped athwart her from her shoulder to her waist and her fair head was bent in willing shame. He had loose red-brown hair and tender shapely strong freckled hands. Face? There was no face seen. The brother's face was bent upon her fair rain-fragrant hair. The hand freckled and strong and shapely and caressing was Davin's hand.
He frowned angrily upon his thought and on the shrivelled mannikin who had called it forth. His father's jibes at the Bantry gang leaped out of his memory. He held them at a distance and brooded uneasily on his own thought again. Why were they not Cranly's hands? Had Davin's simplicity and innocence stung him more secretly?
He walked on across the hall with Dixon, leaving Cranly to take leave elaborately of the dwarf.
Under the colonnade Temple was standing in the midst of a little group of students. One of them cried:
— Dixon, come over till you hear. Temple is in grand form.
Temple turned on him his dark gipsy eyes.
— You're a hypocrite, O'Keeffe, he said. And Dixon is a smiler. By hell, I think that's a good literary expression.
He laughed slyly, looking in Stephen's face, repeating:
— By hell, I'm delighted with that name. A smiler.
A stout student who stood below them on the steps said:
— Come back to the mistress, Temple. We want to hear about that.
— He had, faith, Temple said. And he was a married man too. And all the priests used to be dining there. By hell, I think they all had a touch.
— We shall call it riding a hack to spare the hunter, said Dixon.
— Tell us, Temple, O'Keeffe said, how many quarts of porter have you in you?
— All your intellectual soul is in that phrase, O'Keeffe, said Temple with open scorn.
He moved with a shambling gait round the group and spoke to Stephen.
— Did you know that the Forsters are the kings of Belgium? he asked.
Cranly came out through the door of the entrance hall, his hat thrust back on the nape of his neck and picking his teeth with care.
— And here's the wiseacre, said Temple. Do you know that about the Forsters?
He paused for an answer. Cranly dislodged a figseed from his teeth on the point of his rude toothpick and gazed at it intently.
— The Forster family, Temple said, is descended from Baldwin the First, king of Flanders. He was called the Forester. Forester and Forster are the same name. A descendant of Baldwin the First, captain Francis Forster, settled in Ireland and married the daughter of the last chieftain of Clanbrassil. Then there are the Blake Forsters. That's a different branch.
— From Baldhead, king of Flanders, Cranly repeated, rooting again deliberately at his gleaming uncovered teeth.
— Where did you pick up all that history? O'Keeffe asked.
— I know all the history of your family, too, Temple said, turning to Stephen. Do you know what Giraldus Cambrensis says about your family?
— Is he descended from Baldwin too? asked a tall consumptive student with dark eyes.
— Baldhead, Cranly repeated, sucking at a crevice in his teeth.
— PERNOBILIS ET PERVETUSTA FAMILIA, Temple said to Stephen.
The stout student who stood below them on the steps farted briefly. Dixon turned towards him, saying in a soft voice:
— Did an angel speak?
Cranly turned also and said vehemently but without anger:
— Goggins, you're the flamingest dirty devil I ever met, do you know.
— I had it on my mind to say that, Goggins answered firmly. It did no one any harm, did it?
— We hope, Dixon said suavely, that it was not of the kind known to science as a PAULO POST FUTURUM.
— Didn't I tell you he was a smiler? said Temple, turning right and left. Didn't I give him that name?
— You did. We're not deaf, said the tall consumptive.
Cranly still frowned at the stout student below him. Then, with a snort of disgust, he shoved him violently down the steps.
— Go away from here, he said rudely. Go away, you stinkpot. And you are a stinkpot.
Goggins skipped down on to the gravel and at once returned to his place with good humour. Temple turned back to Stephen and asked:
— Do you believe in the law of heredity?
— Are you drunk or what are you or what are you trying to say? asked Cranly, facing round on him with an expression of wonder.
— The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with enthusiasm, is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death.
He touched Stephen timidly at the elbow and said eagerly:
— Do you feel how profound that is because you are a poet?
Cranly pointed his long forefinger.
— Look at him! he said with scorn to the others. Look at Ireland's hope!
They laughed at his words and gesture. Temple turned on him bravely, saying:
— Cranly, you're always sneering at me. I can see that. But I am as good as you any day. Do you know what I think about you now as compared with myself?
— My dear man, said Cranly urbanely, you are incapable, do you know, absolutely incapable of thinking.
— But do you know, Temple went on, what I think of you and of myself compared together?
— Out with it, Temple! the stout student cried from the steps. Get it out in bits!
Temple turned right and left, making sudden feeble gestures as he spoke.
— I'm a ballocks, he said, shaking his head in despair. I am and I know I am. And I admit it that I am.
Dixon patted him lightly on the shoulder and said mildly:
— And it does you every credit, Temple.
— But he, Temple said, pointing to Cranly, he is a ballocks, too, like me. Only he doesn't know it. And that's the only difference I see.