A darkbacked figure under Merchants' arch scanned books on the hawker's cart.
— Certainly, sir. Is it in the city?
— O, yes, Blazes Boylan said. Ten minutes.
The blond girl handed him a docket and pencil.
— Will you write the address, sir?
Blazes Boylan at the counter wrote and pushed the docket to her.
— Send it at once, will you? he said. It's for an invalid.
— Yes, sir. I will, sir.
Blazes Boylan rattled merry money in his trousers' pocket.
— What's the damage? he asked.
The blond girl's slim fingers reckoned the fruits.
Blazes Boylan looked into the cut of her blouse. A young pullet. He took a red carnation from the tall stemglass.
— This for me? he asked gallantly.
The blond girl glanced sideways at him, got up regardless, with his tie a bit crooked, blushing.
— Yes, sir, she said.
Bending archly she reckoned again fat pears and blushing peaches.
Blazes Boylan looked in her blouse with more favour, the stalk of the red flower between his smiling teeth.
— May I say a word to your telephone, missy? he asked roguishly.
* * * * *
— Ma! Almidano Artifoni said.
He gazed over Stephen's shoulder at Goldsmith's knobby poll.
Two carfuls of tourists passed slowly, their women sitting fore, gripping the handrests. Palefaces. Men's arms frankly round their stunted forms. They looked from Trinity to the blind columned porch of the bank of Ireland where pigeons roocoocooed.
— Anch'io ho avuto di queste idee, ALMIDANO ARTIFONI SAID, quand' ero giovine come Lei. Eppoi mi sono convinto che il mondo e una bestia. E peccato. Perche la sua voce . . . sarebbe un cespite di rendita, via. Invece, Lei si sacrifica.
— Sacrifizio incruento, Stephen said smiling, swaying his ashplant in slow swingswong from its midpoint, lightly.
— Speriamo, the round mustachioed face said pleasantly. Ma, dia retta a me. Ci rifletta.
By the stern stone hand of Grattan, bidding halt, an Inchicore tram unloaded straggling Highland soldiers of a band.
— Ci riflettero, Stephen said, glancing down the solid trouserleg.
— Ma, sul serio, eh? Almidano Artifoni said.
His heavy hand took Stephen's firmly. Human eyes. They gazed curiously an instant and turned quickly towards a Dalkey tram.
— Eccolo, Almidano Artifoni said in friendly haste. Venga a trovarmi e ci pensi. Addio, caro.
— Arrivederla, maestro, Stephen said, raising his hat when his hand was freed. E grazie.
— Di che? Almidano Artifoni said. Scusi, eh? Tante belle cose!
Almidano Artifoni, holding up a baton of rolled music as a signal, trotted on stout trousers after the Dalkey tram. In vain he trotted, signalling in vain among the rout of barekneed gillies smuggling implements of music through Trinity gates.
* * * * *
Miss Dunne hid the Capel street library copy of The Woman in White far back in her drawer and rolled a sheet of gaudy notepaper into her typewriter.
Too much mystery business in it. Is he in love with that one, Marion? Change it and get another by Mary Cecil Haye.
The disk shot down the groove, wobbled a while, ceased and ogled them: six.
Miss Dunne clicked on the keyboard:
— 16 June 1904.
Five tallwhitehatted sandwichmen between Monypeny's corner and the slab where Wolfe Tone's statue was not, eeled themselves turning H. E. L. Y.'S and plodded back as they had come.
Then she stared at the large poster of Marie Kendall, charming soubrette, and, listlessly lolling, scribbled on the jotter sixteens and capital esses. Mustard hair and dauby cheeks. She's not nicelooking, is she? The way she's holding up her bit of a skirt. Wonder will that fellow be at the band tonight. If I could get that dressmaker to make a concertina skirt like Susy Nagle's. They kick out grand. Shannon and all the boatclub swells never took his eyes off her. Hope to goodness he won't keep me here till seven.
The telephone rang rudely by her ear.
— Hello. Yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, sir. I'll ring them up after five. Only those two, sir, for Belfast and Liverpool. All right, sir. Then I can go after six if you're not back. A quarter after. Yes, sir. Twentyseven and six. I'll tell him. Yes: one, seven, six.
She scribbled three figures on an envelope.
— Mr Boylan! Hello! That gentleman from SPORT was in looking for you. Mr Lenehan, yes. He said he'll be in the Ormond at four. No, sir. Yes, sir. I'll ring them up after five.
* * * * *
Two pink faces turned in the flare of the tiny torch.
— Who's that? Ned Lambert asked. Is that Crotty?
— Ringabella and Crosshaven, a voice replied groping for foothold.
— Hello, Jack, is that yourself? Ned Lambert said, raising in salute his pliant lath among the flickering arches. Come on. Mind your steps there.
The vesta in the clergyman's uplifted hand consumed itself in a long soft flame and was let fall. At their feet its red speck died: and mouldy air closed round them.
— How interesting! a refined accent said in the gloom.
— Yes, sir, Ned Lambert said heartily. We are standing in the historic council chamber of saint Mary's abbey where silken Thomas proclaimed himself a rebel in 1534. This is the most historic spot in all Dublin. O'Madden Burke is going to write something about it one of these days. The old bank of Ireland was over the way till the time of the union and the original jews' temple was here too before they built their synagogue over in Adelaide road. You were never here before, Jack, were you?
— No, Ned.
— He rode down through Dame walk, the refined accent said, if my memory serves me. The mansion of the Kildares was in Thomas court.
— That's right, Ned Lambert said. That's quite right, sir.
— If you will be so kind then, the clergyman said, the next time to allow me perhaps . . .
— Certainly, Ned Lambert said. Bring the camera whenever you like. I'll get those bags cleared away from the windows. You can take it from here or from here.
In the still faint light he moved about, tapping with his lath the piled seedbags and points of vantage on the floor.
From a long face a beard and gaze hung on a chessboard.
— I'm deeply obliged, Mr Lambert, the clergyman said. I won't trespass on your valuable time . . .
— You're welcome, sir, Ned Lambert said. Drop in whenever you like. Next week, say. Can you see?
— Yes, yes. Good afternoon, Mr Lambert. Very pleased to have met you.
— Pleasure is mine, sir, Ned Lambert answered.
He followed his guest to the outlet and then whirled his lath away among the pillars. With J. J. O'Molloy he came forth slowly into Mary's abbey where draymen were loading floats with sacks of carob and palmnut meal, O'Connor, Wexford.
He stood to read the card in his hand.