Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 1 - Telemachus

He drank at her bidding.

— If we could live 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.

— Look at that now, she said.

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 all there is of her but her woman's unclean loins, of man's flesh made not in God's likeness, the serpent'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 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 am 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 it'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?

— No, thank you, sir, the old woman said, slipping the ring of the milkcan on her forearm and about to go.

Haines said to her:

— Have you your bill? We had better pay her, Mulligan, hadn't we?

Stephen filled again the three cups.

— Bill, sir? she said, halting. Well, it's seven mornings a pint at twopence is seven twos is a shilling and twopence over and these three mornings a quart at fourpence is three quarts is a shilling. That's a shilling and one and two is two and two, sir.

Buck Mulligan sighed and, having filled his mouth with a crust thickly buttered on both sides, stretched forth his legs and began to search his trouser pockets.

— Pay up and look pleasant, Haines said to him, smiling.

Stephen filled a third cup, a spoonful of tea colouring faintly the thick rich milk. Buck Mulligan brought up a florin, twisted it round in his fingers and cried:

— A miracle!

He passed it along the table towards the old woman, saying:

— Ask nothing more of me, sweet. All I can give you I give.

Stephen laid the coin in her uneager hand.

— We'll owe twopence, he said.

— Time enough, sir, she said, taking the coin. Time enough. Good morning, sir.

She curtseyed and went out, followed by Buck Mulligan's tender chant:

— Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet.

He turned to Stephen and said:

— Seriously, Dedalus. I'm stony. Hurry out to your school kip and bring us back some money. Today the bards must drink and junket. Ireland expects that every man this day will do his duty.

— That reminds me, Haines said, rising, that I have to visit your national library today.

— Our swim first, Buck Mulligan said.

He turned to Stephen and asked blandly:

— Is this the day for your monthly wash, Kinch?

Then he said to Haines:

— The unclean bard makes a point of washing once a month.

— All Ireland is washed by the gulfstream, Stephen said as he let honey trickle over a slice of the loaf.

Haines from the corner where he was knotting easily a scarf about the loose collar of his tennis shirt spoke:

— I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you will let me.

Speaking to me. They wash and tub and scrub. Agenbite of inwit. Conscience. Yet here's a spot.

— That one about the cracked lookingglass of a servant being the symbol of Irish art is deuced good.

Buck Mulligan kicked Stephen's foot under the table and said with warmth of tone:

— Wait till you hear him on Hamlet, Haines.

— Well, I mean it, Haines said, still speaking to Stephen. I was just thinking of it when that poor old creature came in.

— Would I make any money by it? Stephen asked.

Haines laughed and, as he took his soft grey hat from the holdfast of the hammock, said:

— I don't know, I'm sure.

He strolled out to the doorway. Buck Mulligan bent across to Stephen and said with coarse vigour:

— You put your hoof in it now. What did you say that for?

— Well? Stephen said. The problem is to get money. From whom? From the milkwoman or from him. It's a toss up, I think.

— I blow him out about you, Buck Mulligan said, and then you come along with your lousy leer and your gloomy jesuit jibes.

— I see little hope, Stephen said, from her or from him.

Buck Mulligan sighed tragically and laid his hand on Stephen's arm.

— From me, Kinch, he said.

In a suddenly changed tone he added:

— To tell you the God's truth I think you're right. Damn all else they are good for. Why don't you play them as I do? To hell with them all. Let us get out of the kip.

He stood up, gravely ungirdled and disrobed himself of his gown, saying resignedly:

— Mulligan is stripped of his garments.

He emptied his pockets on to the table.

— There's your snotrag, he said.

And putting on his stiff collar and rebellious tie he spoke to them, chiding them, and to his dangling watchchain. His hands plunged and rummaged in his trunk while he called for a clean handkerchief. God, we'll simply have to dress the character. I want puce gloves and green boots. Contradiction. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. Mercurial Malachi. A limp black missile flew out of his talking hands.

— And there's your Latin quarter hat, he said.

Stephen picked it up and put it on. Haines called to them from the doorway:

— Are you coming, you fellows?

— I'm ready, Buck Mulligan answered, going towards the door. Come out, Kinch. You have eaten all we left, I suppose. Resigned he passed out with grave words and gait, saying, wellnigh with sorrow:

— And going forth he met Butterly.

Stephen, taking his ashplant from its leaningplace, followed them out and, as they went down the ladder, pulled to the slow iron door and locked it. He put the huge key in his inner pocket.

At the foot of the ladder Buck Mulligan asked:

— Did you bring the key?

— I have it, Stephen said, preceding them.

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